Dapper Dan wrestling event picks U.S. all-stars

WRESTLING NOTEBOOK

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Kyle Snyder has not wrestled a high school match in the 2013-14 season, but was still chosen for the United States all-star team for the 40th annual Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic.

Snyder posted a 179-0 record and won Maryland state titles the past three years at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, but decided to skip his senior year to begin training for the Olympics in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I've accomplished all I can at the high school level," said Snyder, who won a Junior World Freestyle title in 2013. "My goal is to wrestle in the 2016 Olympics. With that in mind, I decided to start training at the Olympic Training Center."

Snyder is now attending Coronado High School in Colorado Springs and will graduate in May, but is not allowed to compete at the high school level.

"I've been training and living here since July 21," said Snyder, who accepted a scholarship to Ohio State University. "I live in dorms with eight others who are currently living and training here. We also have quite a few other wrestlers pop in at various times. I've met quite a few former and current Olympians. I've really enjoyed the experience."

Area wrestling fans got a chance to see Snyder at the 2012 Powerade Christmas Tournament. He completely dominated the 220-pound weight class, capped by an impressive 16-6 win against Thomas Haines of Solanco (Pa.) in the title match. Haines, a three-time PIAA Class AAA champion, has moved up to the 285-pound weight class this year.

"I've wanted to wrestle in the Classic since I was a freshman," Snyder said. "I was hoping the committee would pick me. I can't wait. I have a ton of family and friends, even my coach, coming up from Maryland to see me wrestle. It will be the final match of my high school career."

Snyder is one of 13 wrestlers chosen to represent the U.S. all-stars March 16 at Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House. The U.S. team will face Pennsylvania's all-star team in the feature match at 6 p.m. A team of WPIAL all-stars will face the Oklahoma all-stars in the preliminary match at 4 p.m.

Snyder is one of five three-time state champions on the U.S. squad. The others are: Josh Albers (134-0 at 132 pounds) of Illinois; Tyler Berger (152-3 at 145) of Oregon; Ryan Blees (141-5 at 160) of North Dakota; and Chip Ness (138-1 at 195) of Georgia.

The U.S. squad also features a three-time national prep school champion in Joe McKenna (115-7 at 138) of New Jersey.

The Classic is produced and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Dapper Dan Charities and local volunteers. Proceeds support a youth wrestling program for inner-city children through the Dapper Dan Youth Sports Leagues at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania. The reserved seat ticket price is $15 and general admission is $10.

Tickets can be purchased at Wright Automotive Group on Route 19, Monroeville Chrysler Jeep, Canon-McMillan High School or by calling Dapper Dan Charities at 412-263-3850. For more information or to order tickets, visit www.wrestlingclassic.com.

PIAA qualifiers

Six teams from the WPIAL and one City League squad qualified for the 2014 PIAA team tournament with hopes of claiming one of the two titles.

Franklin Regional (19-1), Latrobe (12-2), North Allegheny (13-1) and Allderdice (9-5) qualified for the 20-team Class AAA bracket. Burrell (12-3), South Fayette (20-1) and Jefferson-Morgan (15-3) qualified for the Class AA bracket, which also has 20 teams.

Allderdice, the City League's lone representative, qualified for the Class AAA bracket for the third consecutive year by winning the City League title. Allderdice will face North Allegheny at 7 p.m. today at Carrick, with the winner earning a trip to Hershey. North Allegheny is making its third consecutive PIAA appearance.

Jefferson-Morgan will make its second PIAA Class AA appearance in three years. The Rockets will face District 10 runner-up Fort LeBoeuf at 7 p.m. today on the road, with the winner going to Hershey.

Franklin Regional, Latrobe, Burrell and South Fayette receive a bye until the first round starts Thursday. The remainder of the tournament will be held at Giant Center in Hershey and will conclude Saturday.

Burrell will make its 10th PIAA appearance. The Buccaneers have a 19-14 record in PIAA matches and have been a top-four finisher four times. Franklin Regional and South Fayette are making their second PIAA appearances.

Hershey pains

The PIAA team tournament has not been kind to the WPIAL. Only three WPIAL teams have won a PIAA title since the tournament began in 1999.

* Canon-McMillan won back-to-back PIAA Class AAA titles in 2012 and 2013.

* Connellsville claimed the Class AAA title in 2005 after placing second in 2000 and 2004.

* Burrell captured the Class AA title in 2008.

Only three other WPIAL teams have made an appearance in the finals: Kiski Area (2003) and Trinity (2002) placed second in Class AAA, and Shady Side Academy was runner-up in 2001 and 2009.

Looking ahead

The WPIAL individual section tournaments in Class AA will be Feb. 15. Chartiers-Houston (Section 1), Charleroi (2), and Avonworth (3) will host the three qualifiers.

The section tournaments in Class AAA will be Feb. 22. The sites for the four tournaments are Gateway (Section 1), Baldwin (2), Fox Chapel (3) and Moon (4).

The top five finishers in each weight class from each section advance to the WPIAL championships. The WPIAL Class AA tournament will be Feb. 21-22 at Chartiers Valley. The Class AAA WPIAL/Southwest Regional will be Feb. 27-March 1 at Canon-McMillan.

The Class AA Southwest Region tournament will return to Cambria County's War Memorial Arena Feb. 28-March 1. The PIAA tournament, Class AAA and AA, will be March 6-8 at Giant Center.

U.S. All-Star team

113 Brian Rossi, Lockport, Ill. (110-16)

120 Nathan Boston, Woodford County, Ky. (153-1, 2-time state champ)

126 Steve Micic, Hanover Central, Ind. (136-5, 2-time state champ)

132 Josh Albers, Dakota, Ill. (134-0, 3-time state champ)

138 Joe McKenna, Blair Academy, N.J. (115-7, 3-time national prep champ)

145 Tyler Berger, Crook County, Ore. (152-3, 3-time state champ)

152 Bryce Brill, Mount Carmel, Ill. (136-5, 2-time state champ)

160 Ryan Blees, Bismarck, N.D. (141-5, 3-time state champ)

170 Bo Nickal, Allen, Texas. (140-7, 2-time state champ)

182 Johnny Sebastian, Bergen Catholic, N.J. (110-16, 2-time state champ)

195 Chip Ness, Buford, Ga. (138-1, 3-time state champ)

220 Kyle Snyder, Good Counsel, Md. (179-0, 3-time state champ)

285 Nick Nevills, Clovis, Calif. (150-5, 2-time champ)


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