Cranberry Wins Four Individual Crowns, St. Marys Wins Team Title at Inaugural District 9 Wrestling League Championships

Kenn Staub

Kenn Staub

Published January 7, 2024 2:36 am
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CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Cranberry had a tournament-leading four individual champions at the inaugural District 9 Wrestling League Championships on Saturday, though St. Marys, by virtue of its one champ and 10 other placers, proved to be the top team.

Mounting the top step of the podium for the Berries were Aiden Thompson (107 pounds), Dalton Wenner (114 pounds), Elijah Brosius (127 pounds), and Devyn Fleeger (152 pounds).

(Pictured above, St. Marys won the team title at the inaugural District 9 Wrestling League Championships)

Thompson was the first champion of the day, pinning Brockway’s Gage Park in the second period (3:26).

The Berries’ grappler fought off his back to get the fall, reversing Park after he had laid Thompson out and scored two near fall points earlier in the stanza.

“I think I wrestled pretty good, I did good on top and bottom, not so much neutral (when both grapplers were on their feet),” said Thompson. “This (win) gives me some extra confidence because I didn’t do too good my last tournament (he was 0-2 at the Powerade tournament the previous week).”

Wenner, ranked fourth in the state by PA Power Wrestling (PAPW), made it two in a row for the Berries, sticking Jordan Hankey of Brookville in the first period (0:43).

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Said Wenner, “We wrestled in a few tough tournaments already and I thought we were well prepared. Hankey is a good kid (wrestler). I just went out there and wrestled how I knew how to wrestle.”

The Berries won their third title in the first four weight classes when Elijah Brosius shut out St. Marys’ Aiden Beimel, 5-0.

PAPW has Brosius ranked eighth at his weight and Beimel 10th.


(Elijah Brosius stands atop the podium after winning the 127-pound title)

Said Brosius, “I think it went pretty good. My first couple of matches were pretty easy, I mean I was just trying to get some takedowns before the finals because I knew that one was going to be tough. I wrestled him (Beimel) before and I kind of just went through it (the bout), didn’t think about positions, and scored when the chance was there.”

Fleeger pinned Avery Bittler of St. Marys quickly in the first period (21 seconds) for his title.

“It was a pretty good tournament. I struggled a little bit at the beginning but ended up pinning my way through (all four of his wins were by fall), it was pretty fun. I had a pretty tough kid (Bittler) and I ended up getting a quick pin, (and) caught him on his back.  I locked him up, and got the pin,” Fleeger said.

Both Fleeger and Bittler hold state rankings per PAPW, the former 21st and the latter 25th.

Brookville acquitted itself well, with three Raiders claiming titles – Cole Householder at 145 pounds, Easton Belfiore at 189 pounds, and Gavin Hannah at 215 pounds.

State-ranked grapplers Householder and Jaden Wehler of St. Marys wrestled a tight final.

Wehler sent the bout into sudden victory with an escape that made the score 4-4 late in the third period. The overtime period was scoreless until less than 10 seconds remained, with Householder recording a takedown to walk off with the win.

Householder entered the bout as PAPW’s fifth-ranked 145-pounder and Wehler, who dropped weight for this event, was 20th at 152 pounds.

Said Householder, “The first couple of rounds I picked up some falls (all three of his prior matches ended with pins), and then in the finals I wrestled a tough match. I just knew that if I stuck to the gameplan I could get him in the third [period] or even overtime.”
Belfiore, PAPW’s 17th-ranked 189-pounder, dominated his final against Punxsutawney’s Landon Martz, jumping out to a 9-1 lead before notching a pin at the midpoint of the second period (3:06).

“I thought it went pretty good, especially the finals. I got better as the day went on. In the finals, I didn’t want to fight his (Martz’s) strengths, shooting in on his hips and letting him get his hips on me. I figured the best approach was to wear him down with some heavy snaps and then a low leg,” said Belfiore.

Hannah followed Belfiore’s bout with a fall of his own halfway through the second (2:57), sticking Ethan Ott of St. Marys after a dominating first period.

Said Hannah, “I was pretty good on my feet, I feel like it went a little better when I was on top working. I couldn’t pin people as well as I could usually.”

Brockway and DuBois each had a pair of champions.

The sibling duo of Weston (121) and Parker (139) Pisarchick claimed both titles for the Rovers.

Weston, ranked sixth in PAPW’s 2A state poll, faced off against Punxsutawney’s Dyson Gould, positioned 18th in 3A, in the finals, Pisarchick scoring a fall in the first (1:06).

Said Pisarchick, “I’d say I wrestled pretty well this weekend. I was a little sloppy trying to out-muscle people, so I had to focus more on my technique. The final was a good match.”

Parker Pisarchick, ranked seventh by PAPW, decisioned Cranberry’s Dane Wenner, 18th in the same poll, 6-2.

“It started off good. I really wanted to get my offense going. I knew the final was going to be a tough match. The first period I really didn’t get much going and then the second period I figured out what I was doing and then I dug deep and just won the match,” said Pisarchick.

For DuBois, Samson Deeb (133 pounds) and Zach Gallagher (285 pounds) earned gold medals.

Deeb had to go into the ultimate ride out (the fourth overtime) to get his gold, escaping in the “seventh period” to beat Colton Ross of Brockway, 3-2.

Teammate Gallagher, ranked 10th by PAPW in the 3A 285-pound poll, pinned Central Clarion’s Josh Beal early in the second period (2:16) to claim the last title of the day.

Central Clarion and St. Marys had one champion apiece.

The Wildcats’ 160-pounder Jake Henry won his weight class by pinning St. Marys’ Jace Meyer in the final period (5:16).

Said Henry, “I was doing good at taking shots, not shooting with my head down. My cradle was my signature move today.”
Andrew Wolfanger was the only one of the Dutch’s five finalists to walk away with a title.

Wolfanger, ranked eighth in the state at 172 pounds by PAPW, majored DuBois’s Carter Wilson in their championship bout, 8-0.

“I came in and just did what I was supposed to do, took care of business. I mean I was a little nervous at first, but I just went out and wrestled like I’m supposed to and took care of business,” said Wolfanger.

In addition to its champion and four runner-ups, St. Marys had six grapplers finish in third, helping them to a team-winning score of 217 points – 11 better than second-place Brookville (206 points).

Commented Dutch coach Garrett Hurd, “All the guys wrestled well, they were pumped. I think our first loss last night kind of drove a lot of them (to General McClane 39-25). They wrestled hard. We had some losses that were upsetting to a few of our wrestlers, but it’s just going to fuel them to work harder and keep training – get better to beat some of these kids that we’re going to see at districts (the postseason District 9 tournament).

Rounding out the top-5 in the nine-team field were Cranberry in third (168 points), Brockway fourth (149 points), and DuBois fifth (147.5 points).

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