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HIGH SCHOOL REVIEW FOR DECEMBER 18: Six is enough for Blair this time

By Rob Sherrill, W.I.N. High School Editor

Blairstown (N.J.) Blair Academy's Super Six couldn't get the job done a week ago at the Walsh Jesuit Ironman Invitational, when the Bucs finished second to Lakewood St. Edward High.

But with a more diffused field at the Beast of the East Tournament Saturday and Sunday in Newark, Del., Blair's six finalists - even with only two champions this time - proved more than enough.

Ironman champions Kellen Russell and Max Shanaman were upset in the finals at 130 and 135, respectively, but Mario Mason (140) and surprising Corey Peltier (171) won titles as Blair romped past Nazareth (Pa.) High, 243-162.5, in the team standings.

Blair, the only team in the field with more than one champion, had eight place-winners and Nazareth seven. Wingate (Pa.) Bald Eagle Area High finished a surprising third with 133.5 points, and Manahawkin (N.J.) Southern Regional High (127) and Chesapeake (Va.) Great Bridge High (125.5) rounded out the top five.

Upsets were the order of the weekend in every weight class, as you'll discover in our analysis below.

103: Owings Mills (Md.) McDonogh School picked off the tournament's first champion, top-seeded Nick Schenk outlasting second seeded Pat Owens of Fort Washington (Pa.) Germantown Academy, 3-1, in overtime. Owens scored victories over Blair's Tony Buxton, 9-3 in the quarterfinals and Wilmington St. Mark's High's Sean Dolan, 4-2, in the semifinals.

112: The semifinals we predicted indeed took place and went according to form, top-seeded Eric Olanowski of Virginia Beach (Va.) Floyd E. Kellam High beating Lewistown (Pa.) High's Matt Snyder, 6-2, and Blair freshman Chris Villalonga beating Broadview Heights (Ohio) Brecksville High's Kyle Lang, 7-5. Olanowski beat Villalonga, 5-2, for the title, while Lang beat Snyder, 7-3, for third place.

119:The tournament's toughest weight lived up to its billing and in the end it was double Junior National runner-up Fred Santaite of Allendale (N.J.) Northern Highlands High proving he indeed has what it takes to withstand the rigors of 119. The fourth-seeded Santaite stunned the home crowd with a 5-4 semifinal victory over Connor McDonald of Georgetown Sussex Central High, making his 3-2 finals win over Ironman champion Chris Sheetz of Pennsburg (Pa.) Upper Perkiomen High seem almost anticlimactic.

Sheetz, seeded No. 3, was impressive, too, beating Andrew Williams of Yorktown (Va.) Tabb High 15-10 in the quarterfinals and second-seeded Frank Perrelli of Morristown Delbarton High, 3-2, in the semifinals. Williams added a consolation semifinal pin over McDonald, who defaulted to sixth place. The surprise of the weight was unseeded junior Mike Holcomb of Kellam. The Group 3A state runner-up at 103 last year, Holcomb beat New England champions Joey O'Connor of Plaistow (N.H.) Timberlane High and Aaron Kalil of Salem (N.H.) High and Blair's Garrett Frey en route to finishing fifth.

125: An all-New Jersey final saw Hightstown (N.J.) Peddie School junior Dan White top Montvale St. Joseph High's John Trumbetti, 7-4, as the top two seeds met. White pinned all four opponents prior to the final and Trumbetti also was impressive, not allowing a point in five matches. The surprise of the weight was Reynolds senior Robbie Miller, left for dead after losing, 5-0, to Lewistown's Matt Bonson in the round of 16. All the No. 13 seed did was win six straight in the consolations to finish third, beating in-state rivals Jason DeLuca of Dillsburg Northern High, Bonson and Grant Lowther of Washington Trinity High along the way.

130: Middletown (Pa.) High's Tyler Nauman scored the first finals upset, 3-2, over Ironman champion Russell. Nauman got to the finals by beating Upper Perkiomen's Shane Smith 4-0 in the quarterfinals and Nazareth's Bobby Ward, who won a 2-1 overtime shocker over three-time Virginia champion Collin Dozier of Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox High, 10-3 in the semifinals. Catoosa (Okla.) freshman Ben Morgan hit the wall in the quarterfinals, where he was pinned by Lewistown's Mike Robinson, then was eliminated 10-3 by Tabb's Ben Canning. Robinson, who always seems to save his best wrestling for this event, finished third.

135: Delbarton's Trevor Melde didn't allow a point until his 6 2 finals victory over Ironman champion Shanaman. Fourth-seeded Chris Diaz of Camden Wyoming Caesar Rodney High looked to be a disappointment after losing 6-5 to Middletown's Josh Long in his opening match. Diaz avenged that loss five matches later as he won seven straight consolation matches to take third place.

140: If you were told that one Blair wrestler would win both the Ironman and the Beast and you had to guess which one, chances are Mario Mason wouldn't have been your choice. But that's why they wrestle the matches. In what likely will be the toughest weight class in any scholastic tournament this season, Mason recorded two victories for the ages, 5-2 over Dallas (Texas) Bishop Lynch's Luke Silver in the semifinals and 3-2 over St. Mark's Tommy Abbott for the title. As the fourth and fifth seeds, Silver and Tulsa Union's Jamal Parks met, unbelievably, in the quarterfinals, Silver beating Parks for the second time in two weeks, 3-1. Abbott edged Upper Perkiomen's Zack Kemmerer, 3-2, in the other semifinal. Parks beat Kemmerer 6-4 in the consolation semifinals, leading one to wonder when the last time Kemmerer finished as low as fifth in any tournament, let alone during the scholastic season.

145: Ahead only 2-1 after two periods, Ironman champion Alex Meade of Caesar Rodney joined Mason and Christiansburg (Va.) High Cody Gardner to make it a double as he beat New Jersey champion Frank Molinaro of Southern, 10-4, en route to the Outstanding Wrestler award. The upsets started in the quarterfinals as Newville Big Spring High's Mallie Shuster toppled Catoosa's Dallas Bailey, 9-3, and Christiansburg's Andrew Clement beat Tulsa Union's Seth Vernon, 3-1. Shuster capped an impressive run by beating Vernon and Bald Eagle Area's Grant Paswall in the consolations to finish third.

152: Molinaro didn't win the Beast, but Southern teammate Luke Lanno did, the No. 9 seed surviving an upset-laden weight. Lanno supplied the first stunner himself, 7-5, over Blair's top-seeded Eric Medina in the quarterfinals. He also outlasted Bishop Lynch's Johnny Koepp, 9-8, in the semifinals and another surprise finalist, North Andover (Mass.) Brooks School's Sean Bilodeau, 7-5, in the title match. Bilodeau stunned second-seeded Tim Darling of Nazareth, 12-7, in the other semifinal, and Koepp dropped Darling to fourth place, 6-4, in the third-place match.

160: This weight was true to form until the semifinals, with Bear Caravel Academy's Luke Rebertus beating top-seeded Brandon Hatchett of Oviedo (Fla.) High 1-0, then losing, 4-3, in the final to Bald Eagle Area junior Quentin Wright. Wright beat Nazareth's Thad Frick, 10-5, in the other semifinal. Unheralded Ethan Headlee of Waynesburg (Pa.) Central High became one of three unseeded wrestlers to place, pinned Kennesaw (Ga.) Carl Harrison High's Josh Condon and beating Hatchett, 1-0, in three overtimes en route to fourth place.

171: Without a clear favorite, this weight class was there for the taking, and Peltier, the second-lowest seed (No. 7) to win a title, pinned top-seeded Kyle Kiss of Oakhurst (N.J.) Ocean Township for the title. Second-seeded Jesse Robbins of Oviedo was eliminated after just four rounds, suffering back-to-back overtime losses. Reynolds' Lawrence Beckman, after losing 8-4 to Fairfax (Va.) Robinson High's Matt Jones in the quarterfinals, rebounded to take third place over Clint Podish, the second unseeded Waynesburg wrestler to finish fourth in successive weights.

189: Dover High's Jamelle Jones gave the hosts a second champion, coming out of a top bracket that was true to form. Jones prevailed, 3-1, over Great Bridge's Scott Cust, who finished third, in the semifinals. The bottom bracket was anything but. Brecksville's Mike Pushpak pounded second-seeded Jeff Siciliano of Ocean Township, 8-0, in the first round and went on to become the only unseeded wrestler to reach the finals, where he was pinned by Jones.

215: Christiansburg's Cody Gardner and Blair's Jared Platt wrestled their third one-point match in five months, Gardner making it 3-for-3 with a 2-1 tie-breaker win. Youngstown (Ohio) Boardman High's Justin Powell finished third after being pinned by Platt in the semifinals.

285: Our finals pick, Woodberry Forest (Va.) School's Jake Marcey, seeded only sixth, against Nazareth's Mike Mutch, came to fruition, though the match never took place as Mutch forfeited.

The team race

The formula we thought would win it for Blair at the Ironman won it this time. A miss is as good as a mile in a tournament of this size, and five points either way doesn't make much of a difference in our team rankings. Great Bridge continues to impress and Bald Eagle Area and Reynolds had better tournaments than we expected, while Cumberland Valley and Ocean Township were the most surprising schools to come up a little short. The fact that this was the opening weekend for non prep New Jersey schools, however, was a factor.

Our top 15 and their actual finishes:
1. Blair Academy, 208 (243, 1st)
2. Nazareth, 172.5 (162.5, 2nd)
3. Bishop Lynch, 148.5 (66, 25th)
4. Great Bridge, 134 (125.5, 5th)
5. Christiansburg, 133.5 (106.5, 7th)
6. Southern, 123 (127, 4th)
7. Caesar Rodney, 121.5 (100, 10th)
8. Ocean Township, 113 (76, 20th)
9. Cumberland Valley, 109 (88.5, 12th)
10. Upper Perkiomen, 105.5 (120, 6th)
11. Tulsa Union, 104.5 (83, 16th)
12. Lewistown, 99 (100.5, 9th)
13. Oviedo, 98.5 (69, 21st)
14. Bald Eagle Area, 91 (133.5, 3rd)
15. Catoosa, 90 (83, 16th)

For more W.I.N. high school coverage, go to:

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