Martin, Huskies Looking For First Win at State Duals

| February 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

There are many accomplishments in the seven-year history of the Mifflin County wrestling program – four District 6 Class AAA Dual meet championships, three District 6 tournament crowns, and a Northwest Regional title.

Even with all the accolades, one team goal on coach Kirby Martin’s to-do list hasn’t happened yet – a win at state duals. Last week’s stunning performance at the District 6 Duals gives the Huskies another chance to notch a win at Hershey. In three previous appearances, the Purple and Black are 0-6 at the Giant Center.

“We still have not one a match down there. It is getting to the point where it’s frustrating because yes, it’s great getting there, but you still want to make ripples at that tournament,” Martin said. “Getting a win down there is one of our top goals.

Standing in the way of that victory is a formidable foe in Nazareth. The Blue Eagles are the defending state champions who demolished Spring Grove 60-3 on Monday in preliminary round action. Nazareth has a tradition dating back to the fifties when Harold Wilson won the first state title for the school in 1954. The program owns two state team championships (2006 and 2017) along with 23 state champions, 50 state finalists, and 97 individual PIAA medals.

The Blue Eagles are 16-3 on the season with two of their losses coming to top-ranked and District 11 rival Bethlehem Catholic. The other loss was to a team from Maryland by one point. To say that Nazareth, ranked fourth in the state, is loaded is an understatement.

Coach Dave Crowell has a lineup stacked with talent featuring seven state-ranked wrestlers led by senior Sammy Sasso, ranked first at 152 and a returning PIAA champion heading to Ohio State. Also ranked are Andreo Ferraina (No. 24 at 106), Andrew Smith (No. 12 at 113), Sean Pierson (No. 10 at 126), Ryan O’Grady (No. 14 at 138), Nate Stefanik (No. 14 at 152), and Cade Wilson (No. 3 at 195).

In addition to Sasso, Pierson, Wilson and Andrew Cerniglia (132), back after missing the regular season due to injury, earned individual medals at states a year ago.

It goes without saying, but Martin knows the challenges his squad faces Friday evening.

“Nazareth is an elite program in Pennsylvania. They have a hall-of-fame coach. They are a powerhouse,” Martin said. “I really respect how they go about their business. Their kids are well-coached and handle themselves off the mat. I have a tremendous amount of respect for who they are and how they wrestle. It’s always an honor and a privilege to wrestle Dave Crowell and one of his teams or kids.”

The Huskies (11-5) are wrestling their best at the right time thanks to a brutal schedule featuring King of the Mountain, Powerade, and the Ultimate Warrior Tournament, as well as an always rugged Mid-Penn Commonwealth slate. The evidence of their toughness was on full display last week in wins over heavily favored Central Mountain (36-35) and BEA (36-33) to claim district honors.

No. 15 Mifflin County has three ranked wrestlers in the fold – junior Christian Fisher (No. 14 at 113), freshman Trey Kibe (No. 9 at 152), and PIAA champion Trent Hidlay (No. 1 at 170). The Blue Eagles defeated the Huskies 31-30 in the first round of the 2016 state duals.

Giving up a forfeit at 106 is not an ideal situation when facing a team like Nazareth which is why Martin must get significant contributions not only from his big five but everyone up and down the lineup. Even in a loss, the key is not to give up bonus points. If he can get the same performances from Derek Burk, Logan Wise, John Retherford, Josh Snook, and Bronson Smith-Price like he did last Saturday, Martin may get that elusive win at state duals.

“We have to wrestle our best match. We have to wrestle with a lot of energy and intensity. We’ll have to weather the storm at times because they have some awesome wrestlers,” Martin said. “The weekend at district duals was outstanding, but representing this county and the kids that are in our program, have been through the program, and are coming up through, to be at the state tournament, whether team or individual event, is the highest level you can reach. We want to continue to set a standard for the younger wrestlers coming up that this is something we are capable of year in and year out if we sacrifice and work hard.”

First-round action with Nazareth gets underway at 8 p.m. Thursday evening at the Giant Center in Hershey. Win or lose; the Huskies face either Central Dauphin or third-ranked Kiski Area in the quarterfinals (2 p.m.) or the consolations (10 a.m.) on Friday. The Rams defeated the Huskies in the regular season 35-26.

Here are the probable lineups for the Nazareth match. Look for the Huskies to move people up for this dual meet, maybe from 152 on up to 220. What I have below will change during the match. This the regular lineup for both teams during the season.

#4 Nazareth Blue Eagles (16-3) vs. #15 Mifflin County Huskies (11-5)

106: Forfeit vs. No. 24 Andreo Ferraina, Fr. (18-12)
113: No. 14 Christian Fisher, Jr. (24-6) vs. No. 12 Andrew Smith, So. (17-5)
120: Derek Burk, So. (16-12) vs. Blaine Wilson, So. (23-12)
126: Logan Wise, Sr. (22-10) vs. No. 10 Sean Pierson, Jr. (31-6)
132: Josh Snook, Jr. (6-16) vs. Andrew Cerniglia, So. (2-1)
138: John Retherford Jr. (13-11) vs. No. 14 Ryan O’Grady, Sr. (21-9)
145: Brycen Hassinger, Fr. (9-14) vs. Connor Herceg, So. (23-9)
152: No. 9 Trey Kibe, Fr. (28-5) vs. No. 14 Nate Stefanik, So. (18-6)
160: Cole Baker, Sr. (2-17) vs. No. 1 Sammy Sasso, Sr. (31-1)
170: No. 1 Trent Hidlay Sr. (29-0) vs. Jake Dressler, So. (15-13)
182: Jacob Krepps, So. (17-12) vs. Zach Keifer, Sr. (11-7)
195: Dylan Grassmyer, Jr. (2-6) vs. No. 3 Cade Wilson, Sr. (28-4)
220: Kross Todaro, Sr. (20-9) vs. Stephen Schott, So. (18-9)
285: Bronson Smith-Price, So. (10-12) vs. Justyce Searock, jr. (13-15)

Category: High School Wrestling

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