A Look At The Class Aaa Wrestling Contenders

Posted: March 16, 1989

The weight classes have been realigned and there are 13 classes instead of 12, but otherwise the scene remains the same as the Pennsylvania high school wrestling season comes to a climax.

If the pungent smell of perspiration is softened by the sweet aroma of chocolate, and if the street lights are shaped like Kisses, it must be Hershey, site of the PIAA championships, which run today through Saturday at HersheyPark Arena.

Here is a preview of what to expect at the Class AAA level. Top contenders, their schools and their records - along with District 1 qualifiers, in order of finish at the districts - are listed for each weight class.

103 POUNDS. Chris Thatcher (Tunkhannock) 32-1, Chad Billy (Northampton) 26-5-1, Brian Kapusta (Greensburg-Salem) 32-0, Charlie Bey (Bradford) 28-1.

District 1: Jason Marks (Upper Perkiomen) 32-2, Chris Ruyak (Pottstown) 32-2, Chris Barone (Council Rock) 30-6.

Thatcher, who placed sixth at 98 pounds last year, suffered his first loss in the Northeast Regional final against Billy. Kapusta and Bey square off in the first round. Marks, second at 98 last season, is considered by many to be the favorite. Pick: Thatcher.

112 POUNDS. Ty Moore (North Allegheny) 32-1, Jeff Stepanic (Connellsville) 30-2, Brad Silimperi (Nazareth) 28-2, Jeff Cervone (Meadeville) 30-2, Pete Rinella (Lock Haven) 28-2, Mark Eckenrode (Dover) 29-4, Rob Weiss (Erie McDowell) 28-1.

District 1: Chad Bailey (Harry S. Truman) 30-1, Jim Barrett (William Tennent) 27-4, Terry Hickman (Central Bucks East) 32-6.

This is one of the strongest weights in state-tournament history, with six returning place-winners, including two defending champions. Two-time gold medalist Moore, last season's winner at 105, suffered the first loss of his career in the Southwest Regional final against Stepanic. That left his career record at 104-1. Silimperi, last year's champion at 98, lost to Moore in the 98-pound final in '87. Weiss was second and Eckenrode sixth at 105 last year; Rinella was third and Stepanic fifth at 98 a season ago. Despite the awesome competition, Bailey cannot be counted out. Neither can Barrett, who is 0-4 vs. Bailey, 27-0 vs. all others. Pick: Moore.

119 POUNDS. John Richey (Connellsville) 31-4, Mark Oldhouser (Red Lion) 31-1, Mike Recker (Northampton) 33-4, Roger McLaughlin (Solanco) 24-4, Scott Forry (Spring Grove) 28-1.

District 1: Matt Finnacchio (North Penn) 28-2, Mike Krafchik (West Chester East) 33-2, Brad Rozanski (Upper Perkiomen) 34-2.

Two-time defending champion Dave Foley of Bethlehem Freedom, who figured to be the favorite, failed to survive the Northeast Regionals, which were won by Recker. McLaughlin upset the previously undefeated Oldhouser in the Southcentral Regionals. Richey won the tough Southwest Regionals. Forry is as massive as a 119-pounder can be. All three District 1 representatives are capable of placing. Pick: Recker, but watch out for Rozanski.

125 POUNDS. Mike Herceg (Nazareth) 31-5, Joey Wildasin (South Western) 27-0, Don Suranofsky (Northampton) 26-4-1, Thad Picone (Easton) 30-5.

District 1: Chris Carr (Upper Darby) 29-0, Damian Pizzo (Methacton) 26-8, Randy Zarroli (Council Rock) 30-7.

Wildasin, a two-time finalist and the defending champion at 119, is the overwhelming favorite. Picone won the rugged Northeast Regionals, which also included Herceg and Suranofsky. If not for Wildasin, Carr might be the pretourney choice. Pick: Wildasin.

130 POUNDS. Shawn Brown (Wyoming Valley West) 30-2-1, Steve Krouse (Lock Haven) 29-0, Mike Yancosky (Mount Pleasant) 33-0, Mike Laury (Northampton) 31-3, Brian Willoughby (Red Land) 31-0.

District 1: Tim Alderfer (Souderton) 32-2, Mike Rugg (Quakertown) 27-7, Joe Speck (Wissahickon) 28-8.

Brown (third), Krouse (fifth) and Willoughby (sixth) each placed at 119 last season. Yancosky might be a year away from a state title. Laury surprised Brown in the Northeast Regional final. Alderfer could be a factor. So could Rugg, even though he has bowed to Alderfer three times in the last three weeks. Pick: Krouse.

135 POUNDS. Moss Grays (Easton) 31-1, Barry Anderson (Meadeville) 33-0, Dave Thomas (Waynesburg) 26-1, Jeff Witwer (Garden Spot) 31-0.

District 1: Bart DeRemer (Quakertown) 32-3, Skip Beltz (Pottstown) 27-8, Chris Shivery (Chichester) 29-2.

Look for a final pitting Grays, who placed third at 132 last year, against Anderson. Thomas, a sophomore, is still developing. Witwer placed fifth at the Class AA (small-school) level a year ago. DeRemer is dangerous, although he did not appear to be in peak form during last weekend's Southeast Regionals at Coatesville. Pick: Grays.

140 POUNDS. Tom Best (Williamsport) 29-1, Dave DiSora (Easton) 32-1, Don Lemley (Waynesburg) 33-2-1, Kim Morgan (Trinity) 22-2-1, Tom Stallings (McCaskey) 29-0-1.

District 1: Brian Campbell (Pottstown) 33-1, Sam Mantenga (Chichester) 27-2, Russ Stankina (Methacton) 32-3.

Best, a three-time runner-up, could end his high school career by finally winning a gold medal. His only loss this season came on a disqualification. DiSora, who might be the second-best wrester in the weight class, suffered his first loss in the Northeast Regional final against Best. Morgan defeated Lemley in the Southwest Regional final. Stallings is the Southcentral kingpin. All three District 1 grapplers could have an impact on the tourney. Pick: Best.

145 POUNDS. Chad Pines (Cedar Cliff) 27-0, Mike Miller (Nazareth) 32-1, Romy O'Daniel (Canon-McMillan) 25-4-1, Kevin Harris (Keystone Oaks) 34-0, Matt Stehman (Shamokin) 23-4.

District 1: Greg Stefanowski (Neshaminy) 13-1-1, Mike Chase (Council Rock) 25-5, Marc Petroski (Springfield-Delco) 29-2.

Pines defeated Miller in last year's 138-pound consolation final. Miller's only loss this season was to Rich Catalano, one of the favorites at 152. Stehman, a Delaware state champion last season, faces Harris in the first round. O'Daniel is erratic but extremely capable. District 1 is represented by a trio of solid performers. Pick: Pines.

152 POUNDS. Rich Catalano (North Allegheny) 28-1, Jeff Martin (Warwick) 30-2, J. J. Rusnak (Altoona) 25-5, Jerry Ogurkis (Dallas) 28-1, Jim Brasco (Hempfield) 29-2.

District 1: Mike Stocku (Ridley) 34-2, Tony DeHaven (Conestoga) 27-2, Rob Weneck (Norristown) 28-4-1.

Catalano, the runner-up at 138 last year, could be tough to beat. His lone loss this season came on an injury default. Martin was the 145-pound silver medalist a year ago. Rusnak's father is the Altoona coach. Ogurkis won the Northeast Regional. Brasco was second to Catalano in the Southwest. DeHaven cannot be overlooked. Pick: Martin.

160 POUNDS. Ray Brinzer (North Allegheny) 32-0, Rob Harris (Abington Heights) 30-0, Greg Hopkins (Waynesburg) 28-4, Mark Brous (Shikellamy) 25-5-1, Steve Elicker (South Western) 28-3, John Klingaman (Dallastown) 22-4.

District 1: Guy Horton (Neshaminy) 23-3, Jim Richards (Springfield-Delco) 33-1, Dave Scarpill (Central Bucks East) 32-4.

Brinzer, the defending champion at 155, may be better on his feet than any other wrestler in Pennsylvania. Harris' perfect record speaks for itself. Elicker nipped Klingaman, 2-1, in the Southcentral Regional. Hopkins lost to Brinzer in the Southwest. Brous does not have an impressive record, but he has competed as high as 189 pounds this season. Richards' first loss was a shocker: Horton pinned him inside of a minute in the Southeast Regional final. Pick: Brinzer.

171 POUNDS. Kevin Smith (Easton) 32-0, Ken Bauer (North Allegheny) 29-4-1, Terry Naugle (Juniata) 26-1.

District 1: Chris Kwortnik (North Penn) 34-0, Tim Timperio (Radnor) 26-4, Steve Bell (Upper Darby) 28-3-1.

If would take an upset of mammoth proportions to prevent Kwortnik from winning his third straight state championship. The only one with even a remote chance appears to be Smith, who placed fourth at 167 a year ago. Bauer won the Southwest Regional. Naugle struck gold in the Southcentral. Pick: Kwortnik.

189 POUNDS. Jeff Liebel (Erie Prep) 29-2, Jim Schoffstall (Big Spring) 29-1, Tac Thomas (Red Lion) 32-0, Mike Kraft (Penn Hills) 22-0, Damon Mazoff (Clearfield) 26-3, Lee Robinson (Waynesburg) 34-2.

District 1: Tyrone Howard (Bensalem) 26-1, Marcus Smith (Norristown) 29-4, Jason Hillaert (Neshaminy) 23-9.

Most of the top contenders are in the same half of the bracket. Liebel, who lost in overtime to Kwortnik early in the season, opens against Robinson. Kraft, who was fifth at 167 last year, faces Schoffstall, who was sixth at 185, in the first round. Mazoff, fifth at 185 in last season's Class AA meet, won the Northwest Regional. Thomas beat Schoffstall en route to the Southcentral title. Howard, who is in the weaker bracket, has a real shot to place. Pick: Thomas.

HEAVYWEIGHT. Joe Daubert (Indian Valley) 24-2-1, Skip Pighetti (Bald Eagle) 30-0-1, Jeff Holanbush (Lower Dauphin) 27-2, Bucky Greely (Coughlin) 31-1, Matt Meenan (Williamsport) 24-4-1.

District 1: Mark Scotti (Souderton) 32-1, Shawn Wolfrom (Pennridge) 31-4, John Dollard (Sun Valley) 28-5.

Daubert, the defending Class AA state champion, is 0-2-1 vs. Pighetti, undefeated against everyone else. Pighetti placed fifth at heavyweight last season. Greely pinned Meenan in 46 seconds in the Northeast Regional final. Holanbush is the Southcentral kingpin. Scotti is small for a heavyweight, but they do not come any more rugged. Pick: Pighetti.

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