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POWERade field includes 22 nationally ranked wrestlers

Josh Lowe

12/26/2013
Josh Lowe, InterMat High School Analyst
josh@intermatwrestle.com

The best regular season tournament in the best state for wrestling comes to Canon McMillan High School just south of Pittsburgh this Friday and Saturday. The 46-team field includes over 100 wrestlers that competed in their respective state tournaments last year, as well as 22 nationally ranked wrestlers and a pair of Fab 50 teams.

Chance Marsteller (Photo/Rob Preston)
Leading the teams at the POWERade Christmas Wrestling Tournament are No. 10 Franklin Regional, Pa., and No. 45 Greater Latrobe, Pa. This year's field features a pair of wrestlers ranked first in the country: Spencer Lee (Franklin Regional, Pa.) at 113 pounds and Chance Marsteller (Kennard Dale, Pa.) at 170; along with four others ranked second nationally: Luke Pletcher (Greater Latrobe, Pa.) at 120 pounds, Sam Krivus (Hempfield Area, Pa.) at 132, Jason Nolf (Kittanning, Pa.) at 145, and Thomas Haines (Solanco, Pa.) at 285.

The tournament's toughest weight is the 120-pound weight class, which features five nationally ranked wrestlers, including four of the nation's top eight in the weight class. Ranked second in the country is defending POWERade champion Pletcher, who won the 106 pound title in this tournament and in the PIAA Class AAA state tournament last year. He has victories in the last two months over those other ranked wrestlers: beating No. 3 Sean Russell (Collins Hill, Ga.) in overtime in the Super 32 Challenge semifinal; defeating No. 4 Ethan Lizak (Parkland, Pa.), who has won state in Class AAA the last two years, in the tiebreaker two weekends ago at the King of the Mountain; and upending No. 8 George Phillippi (Derry Area, Pa.), who won state in Class AA last year as a freshman, in the Super 32 Challenge final.

The additional nationally ranked wrestler in this weight class is No. 11 Jake Gromacki (Erie Cathedral Prep, Pa.), a three-time Class AAA state placer and twice a FloNationals placer. The other three seeded wrestlers in this weight class are Cadet freestyle All-American Alex Mackall (Walsh Jesuit, Ohio), two-time state champion Jordan Allen (Huntington, W.Va.), and two-time National Prep top three finisher Ryan Friedman (St. Paul's, Md.). A dangerous unseeded wrestler is junior Ricky Cavallo (Hempfield, Pa.), who has already placed twice in this tournament.

Based on seeds, the quarterfinals in order of bracket position would be: Lizak vs. Friedman, Phillippi vs. Mackall (a Super 32 quarterfinals rematch), Allen vs. Pletcher, and Gromacki vs. Russell.

Two other weight classes in this tournament have three nationally ranked wrestlers: 132 and 138 pounds. The 132-pound weight class is led by national No. 2 Sam Krivus (Hempfield Area, Pa.), a two-time Super 32 Challenge champion who also has PIAA Class AAA and FloNationals titles in the 2013 calendar year. He is the weight class's top seed; while fellow PIAA Class AAA state champion Tyler Smith (Franklin Regional, Pa.), ranked No. 7 nationally and a Junior freestyle All-American, is the second seed. Freshman sensation Cameron Coy (Penn Trafford, Pa.), ranked No. 19 nationally, enters the tournament unseeded.

Others to watch in the 132 pound weight class include two-time state finalist Bryan Ramey (Eastern View, Va.), state placer Nolan Whitely (Walsh Jesuit, Ohio), and National Prep champion Jack Mutchnik (St. Paul's, Md.). These wrestlers are seeded fifth through seventh respectively.

The 138 pound weight class is led by national No. 3 Michael Kemerer -- a three-time Super 32 Challenge finalist (2011 champion), two-time POWERade finalist (2011 champion), and two-time state runner-up. He is the top seed in the weight class, with the next two seeds being No. 13 Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh Central Catholic, Pa.) and No. 7 Brock Zacherl (Brookville, Pa.). Joseph was POWERade champion in 2011, joined Kemerer as a Junior freestyle All-American this past summer, and is a two-time state placer; while Zacherl is a two-time state placer and was a Super 32 Challenge runner-up this fall.

The next three seeds in this weight class are dangerous wrestlers as well: Ryan Skonieczny (Akron SVSM, Ohio), a three-time state placer and state runner-up last year; Michael Kostandaras (Walsh Jesuit, Ohio), a two-time state placer; and Jake Adcock (Pope, Ga.), a 2012 state champion and Cadet National double All-American this past summer. Not seeded in this weight class is Hayden Hidlay (Mifflin County, Pa.), who was a Cadet National double runner-up this past summer after qualifying for state at 113 in Class AAA as a freshman.

The only additional weight class with multiple nationally ranked wrestlers comes at 126 pounds, which is led by No. 3 Ryan Millhof (Collins Hill, Ga.) and No. 10 Dalton Macri (Canon McMillan, Pa.). Macri is the top seed, while two-time Super 32 Challenge champion Millhof is the second seed. The other key challenger in this weight would be state placer A.C. Headlee (Waynesburg, Pa.), the weight class's third seed.

Every other weight class except 220 pounds features one nationally ranked wrestler: No. 4 Devin Brown (Franklin Regional, Pa.) at 106, No. 1 Spencer Lee (Kennard Dale, Pa.) at 113, No. 2 Jason Nolf (Kittanning, Pa.) at 145, No. 12 Josh Shields (Franklin Regional, Pa.) at 152, No. 17 Dom Scalise (Greater Latrobe, Pa.) at 160, No. 1 Chance Marsteller (Kennard Dale, Pa.) at 170, No. 5 Zack Zavatsky (Greater Latrobe, Pa.) at 182, No. 3 Chip Ness (Buford, Ga.) at 195, and No. 2 Thomas Haines (Solanco, Pa.) at 285.

All of those wrestlers but for Scalise are the top seeds in their weight class, while Scalise is seeded fifth at 160 pounds (Jake Henson of Pope, Ga., is seeded first). Lee, Nolf, Marsteller, Zavatsky, and Ness all won Super 32 Challenge titles this past year, while Haines was champion in 2011.

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