One will look completely different and the other will be the exact same challenge.
That’s the flavor for this weekend’s Northeast Regional wrestling tournaments.
The Class 3A Northeast Regional Tournament has a much different look compared to the last several years, starting with the location. It has been moved about three miles away, switching back to Liberty High School in Bethlehem after being held at Freedom for the last six years.
A new district also joined the party with District 12 replacing District 4. That led to all the brackets swelling to 14 wrestlers instead of 11 in the past.
“Regionals are brutal. It is what it is. It (the change) made it a little tougher,” Wyoming Valley West coach Drew Feldman said. “District 12 is definitely better than District 4, but I don’t see it being much of a change. To get through you have to wrestle at your top level because everyone’s tough down at regionals; it doesn’t matter what district you’re from.”
District 12 is Philadelphia, consisting of the Philadelphia Catholic League and the not as powerful Philadelphia Public League.
The PCL is led by District 12 team champion La Salle, which crowned six champions at the D12 tournament and advanced nine of its 11 wrestlers to the regionals.
Father Judge is another tough school from the district. All 10 of its wrestlers moved on to regionals with three district champs including 138-pounder Joe Galasso, who claimed the Outstanding Wrestler Award, and freshman Tim McCall (106 pounds), who became the first freshman in school history to claim a district title.
Another PCL squad, Archbishop Wood, is coached by PIAA Hall of Famer Vic Stanley. Stanley stepped down after the 1996-97 season with Wood and coached at three other schools before retiring after coaching La Salle in 2010-11. Wood has two regional participants.
Meanwhile, the Class 2A regional at Williamsport High School will give Wyoming Valley Conference wrestlers fits as always as the only changes have been some participants.
There are 26 WVC participants in the 2A tourney led by 10 from Lake-Lehman, which ran away with the District 2 team title. Eighteen of the 26 are first-timers in the event, including nine of Lehman’s participants.
There’s no disadvantage for the newcomers, it’s all about being prepared said Meyers coach Ron Swingle.
“Everyone coaches a little differently, but I think you need to be wrestling your personal best, need to minimize your mistakes,” the longtime coach said. “If you don’t give away points and gain points, you’re going to win. There’s just no other way around it. I think all the coaches, they’re looking for their kids to wrestle their best match and then win or lose, most of us are pretty good with it.”
The 3A tournament begins at 4:30 p.m. today with the preliminary round. The semifinals are slated for 11 a.m. Saturday and the finals scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The top three will advance to the PIAA Championships March 7-9 at Giant Center in Hershey.
The 2A regional starts at 6 p.m. today with just the quarterfinals being held today. Wrestling begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with the semifinals. The finals and third-place matches are slated for 4:30 p.m. The top three placewinners will advance to states.