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Dapper Dan Classic is one of wrestling's great annual events, featuing high school stars



When discussing annual wrestling events that bring out the best of competitors and pique the interest of fans and wrestlers alike, several tournaments come to mind. The Midlands, the NCAA Division I Championships, the U.S. Senior Nationals, and of course, the Olympic Games, all fit this category. There is another "oldie but goodie" going on this weekend that fits the bill. Coming out of the tough wrestling state of Pennsylvania and entering its 27th edition.is the annual Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic.In the old days, it was called the Pittsburgh Press Old Schoolboy Classic. It comes to the University of Pittsburgh's Fitzgerald Fieldhouse on Saturday, March 24th and is sure to be another barn burner. This annual event pits the USA's best high school state champions against Pennsylvania's finest in what has proven to be an unpredictable but exciting display of who is eventually "gonna be who" once their high school careers are over. Why is this event important and so widely respected? Consider just a short sample of some of the names whom have competed and went on to win NCAA, World, or Olympic glory. Names dating all the way back from the 1970's include legends such as Mark Churella, Dave Schultz, Bobby Weaver, Randy Lewis, Andre Metzger, and Kenny Monday. The 80's brought us stars like Jim Gibbons, Greg Elinsky, Jim Jordan, Rob Koll, Carlton Haselrig, Kurt Angle, and Nick Purler. The 90's were no less spectacular, with current day stars like Teague Moore, T.J. Jaworsky, Cary Kolat, Chris Bono, Joe Williams, Cael Sanderson, and Brad Vering. Classic alumni have won over 70 NCAA Div. I titles An undefeated high school record might get you selected to compete in the Dapper Dan Classic, but once you get there, nothing is safe. Throw the records out the window, as upsets have become part of the folklore that has become the Dapper Dan. This year's event features a USA squad that is completely loaded. The 12 weights have a combined high school record of 2090-100 and 43 state titles. The Pennsylvania squad has several quality competitors who will surely give the U.S. squad all that they can handle with a 1644-195 record and 18 state titles (remember, this is Pennyslvania, and the local boys always wrestle well on the home mats). On paper, it would appear the the U.S. team has a clear cut advantage with superstarts like Harry Lester (Ohio), Steve Mocco (New Jersey), Corey Cooperman (New Jersey), Kyle Ott (Ohio), and Marcus LeVesseur (Minnesota) all looking to go out in style at the Dapper Dan. These great champions have made a major impact, not only within their states, but by earning top honors at the Asics Tiger Junior Nationals and other major post-season events. Some key match ups could occur at 125 where the USA's Cory Cooperman (Blair Academy) tangles with 2x Pennyslvania Champ Evan Sola of Conrad Weiser High School. Sola enters the event with a 160-7 record and two state titles. Cooperman was second in last summer's Junior Nationals and is the National Prep champion. 3x California champ Alex Tirapelle of Clovis High School faces 2x Pennsylvania champ Ron Doppelheuer of Connelsville High School. If the name is familiar, another Tirapelle won a NCAA Div. I title just a few days ago. Other key matches will see Minnesota's Marcus LeVesseur, himself a 4x state champ, face off against 3x Pennsylvania champ Justin Nestor of Reynolds High School. LeVesseur has performed well in USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior programs, and is an exciting athlete who can put some points on the scoreboard. Probably the most sought after recruit in the country, who remains undecided on where he will attend college, will wrestle Heavyweight for the USA squad. This top prep star is Steve Mocco of Blair Academy in New Jersey. Mocco sports a 211-1 career record that saw him win four national prep titles, as well as dominant performances in winning the last two Junior National freestyle titles. There is plenty of speculation of where he will end up after high school. Mocco hasn't been tested over the past two years, and surely will go down as a fan favorite at this year's Dapper Dan. In addition to the USA vs. Pennsylvania bout, there is another dual meet on the card each year. This season, the dual features a team from wrestling-rich Minnesota against stars from the WPIAL (a strong league in Western Pennsylvania). Minnesota is one of wrestling hotbeds (as evidenced by the success of the Univ. of Minnesota on the college level), and Western Pennsylvania always produces top talent for the college ranks. A special preliminary bout, between nationally respected girls high school stars Lisa Bisers and Erin Tomeo, both Pennsylvania natives, adds a new chapter to this spectacular high school showcase. There are a number of other senior All-Star meets held during this time of the year, but none have the tradition of excellence that the Dapper Dan Classic brings to wrestling. USA Team Weight/Name/School/ State/Record/State titles/College signed with 112 - Kyle Ott, St. Paris Graham, Ohio, 135-2, 3 X, University of Illinois 119 - Nick Simmons, Williamston, Michigan, 211-0, 4 X, Michigan State University 125 - Cory Cooperman, Blair Academy, New Jersey, 171-13, 4 x Prep, University of Minnesota 130 - Harry Lester, CuyuhogaValley Christian Academy, Ohio, 166-2, 4 X, Iowa State University 135 - Mark Manchio, Sterling, New Jersey, 125-2, 3 X, University of Northern Iowa 140 - Alex Tirapelle, Clovis, California, 190-23, 3 X, University of Illinois 145 - Marcus LeVesseur, Bloomington Kennedy, Minnesota, 218-12, 4 X, University of Minnesota 152 - Matt Nagel, Frazee, Minnesota, 217-18, 5 X, University of Minnesota 160 - Derk Brown, Bristow, Oklahoma, 141-13, 3 X, West Point Academy 171 - Shane Webster, Crater, Oregon, 160-6, 3 X, University of Oregon 189 - Jake Rosholt, Sandpoint, Idaho, 145-8, 3 X, Oklahoma State University Hwt - Steve Mocco, Blair Academy, New Jersey, 211-1, 4 X Prep, Undecided     Pennsylvania Team Weight/Name/School/Record/State titles/College signed with 112 - Jim Collins, Northern Lebanon, 131-15, 1 X, Lock Haven University 119 - Adam Smith, Newport, 132-14, 1 X, Penn State University 125 - Evan Sola, Conrad Weiser, 160-7, 2 X, University of North Carolina 130 - Gino Fortebuono, Easton, 136-23, 1 X, Undecided 135 - Dewitt Driscoll, Connellsville, 140-21, 1 X, Penn State University 140 - Ron Doppelheuer, Connellsville, 144-20, 2 X, Undecided 145 - Justin Nestor, Reynolds, 153-11, 3 X, University of Pittsburgh 152 - Rocky Mantella, Council Rock, 144-12, 1 X, Indiana University 160 - Troy Letters, Shaler, 145-5, 2 X, Lehigh University 171 - Travis Frick, Nazareth, 118-29, 1 X, Lehigh University 189 - Joel Edwards, Upper Darby, 116-26, 1 X, Undecided Hwt - Ric San Doval, Shady Side Academy, 125-12, 2 X, University of Pennsylvania WPIAL Team Weight/Name/School/Career Record 112 - Aaron Olszewski, Belle Vernon, 96-16 119 - Dan Pacitti, Moon, 105-17 125 - Shawn Cully, Seneca Valley, 123-27 130 - Ron Tarquinio, West Allegheny, 150-19 135 - Ted Demianczyk, Fort Cherry, 99-29 140 - Don Rush, Avella, 114-26 145 - Ryan Powell, Trinity, 113-26 152 - Will Durkee, Shady Side Academy, 110-22 160 - Matt Lebe, Jeannette, 134-10 171 - Mike DeBartolo, Upper St. Clair, 77-16 189 - Brandon Lehmeier, Shaler, 117-29 Hwt - Lanfer Simpson, Waynesburg, 74-20 Minnesota Team Weight/Name/School/Record/State Place 112 - Phil Wohlman, Renville, 28-9, State Entrant 119 - Jesse Jensan, Brooklyn Center, 42-3, 2nd AA 125 - Jafari Vanier, Bloomington Kennedy, 40-2, 1st AAA 130 - Dave Kerzman, Paynesville, 42-1, 2 x 1st A 135 - Jamell Tidell, Bloomington Kennedy, 45-1, 2x 1st AAA 140 - Dustin Spaltz, Lewistown Altura, 38-2, 3rd A (1st in 2000) 145 - Ty Eustice, Blue Earth, 45-0, 4 x 1st AA 152 - Jeremy Larson, Filmore Central, 35-0, 1st AA 160 - Kelly Flaherty, Big Lake, 36-0, 1st AA 171 - Ryan Flaherty, Big Lake, 38-0, 1st AA 189 - Jon Wheelock, Janesville, 36-0, 1st A 275 - Max Lossen, Winona, 37-0, 1st AAA
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