Preview: D4/D9 AAA Wrestling Championships

Zak Lantz

HYDE -- The 2020 District 4/9 AAA Wrestling Championships will take place Saturday at Clearfield Area High School, with nine schools vying for the team title and each individual aiming at advancing to the North West AAA Regional tournament next weekend in Altoona. Punxsutawney is joined by Bradford, Clearfield, Cranberry, DuBois, Selinsgrove, Shikellamy, St. Marys and Williamsport at the event that combines District 4 and District 9.

(Editor's Note: All pairings are preliminary and could, therefore, be adjusted before the tournament actually begins. What's provided here reflects the most recent brackets.)

Moving through the lighter weights, Punxsy's first competitor will be at 126 pounds, where Ben Skarbek (junior, 11-4) was ranked third. Skarbek, returning to action after missing time due to a mid-season injury, is penciled in against Cranberry junior Evan Hepler (9-13), the sixth seed, in the quarter-finals round. Clearfield sophomore Nolan Barr (22-10) is the top seed at 126.

At 132 pounds, freshman Brady Smith (14-6) is the Chucks' representative, and he's also slotted into the third spot entering the weekend. His quarter-final pairing comes against Selinsgrove freshman Sylvan Martin (11-14), the sixth seed. DuBois senior Trenton Donahue (25-6) is the top seed at 132.

Up next, at 138 pounds, the Chucks will send junior Garrett Fischer (5-14) to the mats, where he gets a tough draw right out of the gates against top-seeded Shikellamy senior Cade Balestrini (26-3) in the quarters. Fischer is the eighth seed.

At 152 pounds, it's another tough draw for the Chucks, as Punxsy sophomore Vincenzo Scott (3-10) is slated to meet undefeated DuBois senior, and top seed, Ed Scott (30-0) in the quarters. Scott recently broke the all-time pinfall record in District 9 at a dual meet in Punxsutawney.

In the 160-pound classification, Punxsy's Grant Miller (14-9), a freshman, received a fourth seed and is penciled into a quarter-final match-up with St. Marys junior Nick Crisp (6-1). The top seed at 160 is Selinsgrove junior Coy Bastian (29-2).

The Chucks' next wrestler, at 182 pounds, is junior Joshua Miller (10-11). He received the sixth-seed distinction and will meet fellow junior and DuBois representative Garrett Starr (15-5) in the quarter-finals. Bradford senior Derek Sunafrank (22-6) is the top seed at 182.

Junior Garrett Eddy (17-4) is up next for Punxsy at 195 pounds, and he's the Chucks' top-ranked wrestler, entering the tournament as the second seed. Eddy will square off with Bradford sophomore Michael Gow (3-11) in the quarters with hopes of working his way through to meet top-seeded junior Jeremy Garthwaite (24-4) of St. Marys.

The final Punxsy wrestler to hit the mats in the quarters will be sixth-seeded sophomore Hunter Harris (8-14) at 285. He'll face third-ranked Alex O'Harah (21-9), a senior from DuBois, in that match. The top seed at 285 is Clearfield sophomore Oliver Billotte (30-3).

The top seeds in weight classes where Punxsy isn't represented are as follows: 106 -- Cael Nasdeo (Williamsport, freshman, 22-5); 113 -- Brendan Orr (DuBois, sophomore, 20-10); 120 -- Aiden Gaugler (Selinsgrove, sophomore, 27-5); 145 -- Roman Morrone (Williamsport, sophomore, 27-8); 170 -- Hayden Kovalick (Clearfield, sophomore, 22-12); and 220 -- Nate Schon (Selinsgrove, junior, 30-0).