Wrestlers deal with stout field at Powerade Christmas tournament


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It's not often a PIAA  champion is seeded fourth in a wrestling tournament. Even at the Powerade Christmas tournament, which began Friday at Canon-McMillan High School.

But Derry sophomore George Phillippi faced that situation in the 120-pound weight class.

"Five of the top eight seeds are state champions, and the other three placed high in their state," said Phillippi, after advancing to the semifinals with a 3-2 victory against Alex Mackall of Ohio's Walsh Jesuit. "It's a really tough bracket."

Phillippi, who won a PIAA Class AA title last year as a freshman, will face Parkland's Ethan Lizak, the No. 1 seed and two-time PIAA Class AAA champion, in the semifinals today.

The other two semifinalists at 120 are Latrobe's Luke Pletcher, a PIAA Class AAA champion who is seeded No. 2, and No. 3 seed Sean Russell, a Georgia state champion from Collins Hill.

The WPIAL had 29 wrestlers advanced to the semifinals.

Franklin Regional's Brandon Yant pulled the biggest upset, when he recorded a 1-0 victory in the 160-pound quarterfinals against top-seed Jake Henson of Pope, Ga. Yant also knocked off No. 8 seed Garrett Zuver of Saegertown in the second round.

Peters Township's Phillip Mary advanced to the 126-pound semifinals with a 4-3 win against No. 4 seed Lucas Simpkins of Ripley, W.Va. Mary also knocked off the No. 5 seed Bret Shurina of Virginia's Eastern View, 5-4, in the second round.

Bethel Park's Nino Bonaccorsi earned a berth in the 132-pound semifinals with a 2-0 upset of No. 5 seed Bryan Ramey of Virginia's Eastern View. Bonaccorsi also defeated No. 4 seed Tyler Haskin of Pope, Ga., 6-2, in the second round.

"I just took it one match at a time and wrestled my match. I'm really looking forward to the semifinals," said Bonaccorsi, a freshman.

Canon-McMillan's Malachi Krenzelak upset No. 4 seed Michael Roquet of Collins Hill, Ga., 6-3, at 145 pounds. Krenzelak then earned a semifinal berth with a 3-2 victory against Peters Township's Sammy Florentino.

Franklin Regional leads with 143 points and Latrobe is second with 121.

Yant will be joined in the semifinals by six teammates Devan Brown (106), Spencer Lee (113), Tyler Smith (132), Michael Kemerer (138), Josh Maruca (145), and Josh Shields (152).

Pletcher is one of five semifinalists for Latrobe. The others are Ethan McCoy (113), Luke Pletcher (120), Dom Scalise (160), and Zack Zavatsky (182).

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