The road to Hershey gets under way today for Lackawanna League and Wyoming Valley Conference wrestlers. Once again, the Kingston Armory will host the District 2 Class AAA and AA individual championships, which begin at 5 p.m. and continue tomorrow with championship bouts tentatively scheduled to start at 3 p.m.
There will be lots of exciting wrestling going on over these next two days and wrestlers will be looking to extend their seasons for at least another week. In Class AAA, the top four finishers in each weight class will advance to next weekend’s Northeast Regional tournament at Bethlehem Liberty High School. In Class AA, the top three will advance to the Northeast Regional at Williamsport High School.
In today’s edition of The Times-Tribune, I took a look at West Scranton senior Kamron VanWert, who is one of the best 285-pound wrestlers in the entire state but is still looking to capture his first district title.
Also in today’s edition, I broke down each weight class in both tournaments, complete with top seeds, defending champions and predictions. If you didn’t get a chance to see, I’ve listed those capsules below so be sure to take a look.
It should be a very entertaining weekend. If you can’t make it, I’ll be updating as best I can so be sure to follow along on Twitter @sportsTT!
Top seeds: 1-Stefhen Caple (West Scranton, Sr., 30-2, 2-Willie Evanitsky (Scranton, Fr., 26-7), 3-Noah Sirianni, Abington Heights, Jr., 21-8), 4-Patrick Clarke (Coughlin, Fr., 30-7)
Prediction: Caple over Evanitsky. Caple’s wrestled at 113 for the majority of the season and has only wrestled one match at 106. But he has the big district-title match experience.
2014 champion: Caple
Top seeds: 1-Jacob Burgette (Scranton, Fr., 29-9), 2-Chris Lasecki (Hazleton Area, So., 24-8), 3-Dakota Conner (Berwick, Sr., 22-11), 4-Tom Bachman (Tunkhannock, Jr., 14-15)
Prediction: Conner over Burgette. Conner will probably face Lasecki in the semis and has beaten him twice this season. If he faces Burgette in the final, he has the senior experience that should put him over the top.
2014 champion: Alex Tirko, Wyoming Valley West
Top seeds: 1-James Wright (Wyoming Valley West, Sr., 24-10), 2-Jake Richards (Tunkhannock, Jr., 26-9), 3-Jimmy Forsette (West Scranton, Jr., 30-5), 4-Anthony Martoccio (Hazleton Area, So., 23-14)
Prediction: Forsette over Wright. Forsette won a district title in 2013 and rolled in the regular season last season before struggling to a 5th-place finish at districts. He’s put together another strong season, once again.
2014 champion: Jimmy Hoffman, Hazleton Area
Top seeds: 1-Jimmy Hoffman (Hazleton Area, So., 30-5), 2-James Fayocavitz (Abington Heights, Sr., 22-5), 3-Kyle Stoll (Delaware Valley, So., 23-8), 4-Josh Brown (Coughlin, Fr., 25-12)
Prediction: Hoffman over Fayocavitz. Hoffman is a returning state qualifier, ranked 10th in the state and hasn’t lost since Jan. 10.
2014 champion: Bobby Hawkins, Coughlin
Top seeds: 1-Rui Evanitsky (Scranton, Jr., 34-3), 2-Bobby Hawkins (Coughlin, Sr., 33-5), 3-P.J. Testino (Delaware Valley, Sr., 22-7), 4-Bubba Novak (West Scranton, So., 23-13)
Prediction: Evanitsky over Hawkins. Evanitsky has been on a tear, not losing since Dec. 20. He also defeated Hawkins by a 20-9 major decision at the district duals.
2014 champion: Jalen Palmer, Delaware Valley
Top seeds: 1-William Pearn (Delaware Valley, Sr., 22-9), 2-Dan Ritz (Crestwood, Sr., 31-1), 3-Bill Manley (Tunkhannock, Jr., 28-8), 4-Aidan McNally (Scranton, Jr., 24-9)
Prediction: Ritz over McNally. Ritz is a three-time Northeast Regional qualifier despite having not won a district title. He should get the job done this year.
2014 champion: Billy Poray, Coughlin
Top seeds: 1-Chase Gallik (Wallenpaupack, Sr., 30-3), 2-Dan Mitchell (West Scranton, Sr., 26-4), 3-Mike Manley (Tunkhannock, Jr., 22-5), 4-Xavier Barber (Dallas, So., 18-1)
Prediction: Gallik over Mitchell. Gallik has a pair of runner-ups and a third-place finish in his previous three district tournaments. He’s been dominant this year mostly at 152 and 160 and 24 of his 30 wins have come by pin. Looks like it’s his time.
2014 champion: Nathan Cheek, Wyoming Valley West
Top seeds: 1-Kazim Bakhriyev (Scranton, Sr., 29-5), 2-Jake Cole (Coughlin, Fr., 24-14), 3-Kyle Kroptavich (West Scranton, Sr., 29-6), 4-Nick Carr (Abington Heights, Jr., 24-4)
Prediction: Bakhriyev over Cole. Bakhriyev was victorious at district duals, 8-5, and is 17-1 in his last 18 bouts, his only loss a 9-5 decision against Mike Labriola, a returning state medalist from national power Bethlehem Catholic.
2014 champion: Niyaz Bakradze, Scranton
Top seeds: 1-Cody Cordes (Sr., Wyoming Valley West, 28-3), 2-Andrew Burgette (Scranton, Jr., 32-5), 3-Dalton Ray (Tunkhannock, Jr., 34-0), 4-Gabe Laucella (Delaware Valley, Jr., 13-15)
Prediction: Cordes over Ray. This could be one of the tournament’s best matches with Cordes ranked ninth in the state and Ray 10th. Ray is undefeated after missing last season but Cordes is the defending champ and a state qualifier.
2014 champion: Cordes
Top seeds: 1-Niyaz Bakradze (Scranton, Sr., 33-3), 2-Cole Dixon (Dallas, Jr., 21-11), 3-Carson Kinney (Hazleton Area, So., 21-10), 4-Nathan Maczuga (Berwick, Sr., 16-16)
Prediction: Bakradze over Dixon. Bakradze moved up this year after winning the 152-pound title last year. He’s been just as good and should win another crown.
2014 champion: Connor Martinez, Dallas
Top seeds: 1-Jared Wehrmann (Wallenpaupack, Sr., 30-4), 2-Derek Spachman (Hazleton Area, Sr., 26-6), 3-Chris Duncan (Delaware Valley, Sr., 23-11), 4-Damian Foshay (Honesdale, Sr., 18-7)
Prediction: Wehrmann over Spachman. These two met at district duals with Wehrmann winning, 7-3. He’s also the defending champ and a state qualifier.
2014 champion: Wehrmann
Top seeds: 1-Matt Wagner (Delaware Valley, Sr., 29-2), 2-Jerome Haupt (Wallenpaupack, Sr., 29-6), 3-James Geiger (Dallas, Jr., 25-9), 4-Sam Rice (Tunkhannock, Fr., 17-17)
Prediction: Wagner over Haupt. Wagner might be the safest bet of either tournament. He’s a two-time defending champ and has dominated all season. He should easily get the three-peat.
2014 champion: Wagner
Top seeds: 1-Kyle Hartman (Wallenpaupack, Sr., 28-6), 2-Jake Vaxmonsky (Pittston Area, Sr., 28-3), 3-A.J. Sieber (Delaware Valley, Sr., 17-10), 4-Payton Phillips (Wyoming Valley West, Sr., 14-10)
Prediction: Vaxmonsky over Hartman. This could be a very interesting final and could go either way. But Vaxmonsky is ranked 10th in the state and he beat Hartman in last year’s district and Northeast Regional tournaments.
2014 champion: Jason Manning, West Scranton
Top seeds: 1-Ryan Monk (Dallas, Sr., 30-3), 2-Kamron VanWert (West Scranton, Sr., 33-1), 3-Naheem Kenzakoski (Coughlin, So., 14-18), 4-John McCarthy (Delaware Valley, Fr., 10-6)
Prediction: VanWert over Monk. This could be one of the best matches of the tournament. VanWert is ranked fourth in the state, while Monk is sixth. VanWert lost to Monk in last year’s district final and has yet to beat him. But he’s been on a mission to win his first district crown and has been dominant. Gut feeling says he’ll get it done.
2014 champion: Monk
Top seeds: 1-Jacob O’Brien (Montrose, So., 21-2), 2-Colin Pasone (Meyers, So., 14-0), 3-Jeff Bennett (Hanover Area, So., 26-6), 4-George Mrsich (Western Wayne, So., 17-17)
Prediction: Pasone over O’Brien. This bracket should shape out to be a rematch of last year’s final, which Pasone won by a 17-5 major decision. Hard to bet against an undefeated defending champ who’s ranked sixth in the state.
2014 champion: Pasone
Top seeds: 1-Garrett Kolb (Lake-Lehman, Fr., 20-15), 2-Mike Dempsey (Meyers, Jr., 17-8), 3-Brandon Judge (Valley View, Fr., 30-8), 4-A.J. Sluko (Scranton Prep, So., 14-11)
Prediction: Judge over Kolb. This is a tough bracket and anybody could win it. But Judge is on a roll since New Year’s Day, going 21-1 with 11 pins.
2014 champion: A.J. Luton, GAR
Top seeds: 1-Brett Uhrin (Valley View, So., 34-3), 2-R.J. Driscoll (Lake-Lehman, So., 19-13), 3-Tony Tlatenchi (GAR, Sr., 9-14), 4-Zakee Nettles (Hanover Area, So., 16-13)
Prediction: Uhrin over Driscoll. Could be a good matchup with Driscoll taking runner-up in this bracket last year. But Uhrin has had the better season, collecting 21 pins while wrestling between 120 and 126.
2014 champion: Patrick Heck, Wyoming Area
Top seeds: 1-Charlie Johnson (Wyoming Area, Sr., 28-0), 2-David Austin (Blue Ridge, Jr., 16-15), 3-Francisco Lopez (Elk Lake, So., 18-13), 4-Braden McIntosh (Western Wayne, Fr., 17-18)
Prediction: Johnson over Austin. He’s the defending champ and hasn’t lost all season, collecting 16 pins on the way. He should cruise to another title.
2014 champion: Johnson
Top seeds: 1-Patrick Heck (Wyoming Area, Jr., 28-7), 2-Zack Meckes (Valley View, Jr., 28-4), 3-Brett Toth (Western Wayne, Sr., 15-7), 4-Brian Gomez (Meyers, Jr., 19-17)
Prediction: Heck over Meckes. Heck is a two-time defending district champ (106 in 2013, 120 in 2014) and pinned Meckes at district duals.
2014 champion: Austin Harry, Lake-Lehman
Top seeds: 1-Josh Sayre (Lake-Lehman, Sr., 24-7), 2-Tyler Patronick (Meyers, Sr., 8-3), 3-Kendrick Beyer (Wyoming Area, So., 21-7), 4-Blake Chew (Elk Lake, So., 15-4)
Prediction: Sayre over Beyer. Sayre defeated Beyer, 7-0, on Jan. 14 and has won his last 12 matches.
2014 champion: Morgan Fuller, Western Wayne
Top seeds: 1-Harrison Clookey (Western Wayne, So., 21-13), 2-Dalton Hogle (Blue Ridge, Sr., 23-5), 3-Patrick Parks (Montrose, Sr., 16-6), 4-Jake Napierkowski (Mountain View, Jr., 13-11)
Prediction: Hogle over Clookey. They split their two meetings this season with Clookey getting a pin at the Lackawanna League tournament and Hogle getting a decision last month. Hogle has two third-place district finishes in his career.
2014 champion: Gino Setta, Meyers
Top seeds: 1-Jimmy Stuart (Lake-Lehman, Sr., 28-10), 2-Zachary Briggs (Wyoming Area, Jr., 29-5), 3-Matthew Judge (Valley View, Sr., 32-5), 4-Gino Setta (Meyers, Jr., 29-4)
Prediction: Judge over Setta. This is another one that could go either way. Judge was runner-up in Class AAA’s 152-pound tournament, while Setta is won the AA title at 145 last season. Briggs could also emerge as a repeat champ.
2014 champion: Briggs
Top seeds: 1-Quince Hutchings (Meyers, Sr., 26-11), 2-Josh Brown (Western Wayne, Sr., 28-9), 3-Rocco Pacini (Lackawanna Trail, 20-11), 4-Adam Buczynski (Wyoming Area, So., 24-14)
Prediction: Brown over Hutchings. These two met at district duals with Brown winning, 14-8. He’s also won his last 10 matches.
2014 champion: Bobby Wright, Lake-Lehman
Top seeds: Derek Dragon (Lake-Lehman, Sr., 34-4), 2-Derek Fisher (Nanticoke, Sr., 22-9), 3-Jude Polit-Moran (Wyoming Area, Sr., 28-7), 4-Ivan Balavage (Scranton Prep, Fr., 27-8)
Prediction: Dragon over Polit-Moran. Dragon is ranked sixth in the state and the two-time defending champ in this bracket.
2014 champion: Dragon
Top seeds: 1-T.J. Cistrunk (Meyers, Sr., 25-3), 2-Trent Phillips (Lackawanna Trail, Jr., 25-10), 3-Blaise Cleveland (Elk Lake, Sr., 31-5), 4-Joe Tomasetti (Western Wayne, Jr., 15-14)
Prediction: Cistrunk over Phillips. Cistrunk won a district title as a sophomore and is ranked 17th in the state
2014 champion: Brady Butler, Lake-Lehman
Top seeds: 1-Zac Faust (GAR, Sr., 29-3), 2-Dakota Swoyer (Western Wayne, Jr., 27-10), 3-Bruce Parola (Scranton Prep, So., 17-13), 4-Chris Graf (Blue Ridge, So., 11-8)
Prediction: Faust over Swoyer. Faust won the past two 220-pound titles. He’s also ranked seventh in the state and shouldn’t have a problem winning another title.
2014 champion: Austin Swoyer, Western Wayne
Top seeds: 1-Thor Balavage (Scranton Prep, Jr., 33-1), 2-Cole Fuller (Western Wayne, Fr., 33-6), 3-Evan Aldrich (Blue Ridge, Jr., 9-3), 4-Nick Hannon (Hanover Area, So., 18-10)
Prediction: Balavage over Fuller. Balavage has rolled over his competition, his only loss coming in the championship match of the Tunkhannock-Kiwanis tournament in December. He’s also pinned Fuller twice this season.
2014 champion: Zac Faust, GAR
Top seeds: 1-Saul Wilkins (GAR, Sr., 29-4), 2-Zach Venesky (Valley View, Sr., 31-5), 3-Jordan Hannon (Lackawanna Trail, Sr., 18-4), 4-Brett Havens (Nanticoke, Sr., 14-8)
Prediction: Wilkins over Venesky. Wilkins is ranked third in the state and is the defending district and Northeast Regional champ.
2014 champion: Wilkins