A record 3,368 wrestlers are entered into this weekend’s NHSCA National High School Wrestling Championships, being held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The total includes 36 wrestlers from the Wyoming Valley Conference and Wyoming Seminary.
The 25th annual event, which begins today and wraps up Sunday, is divided into a four-division format — freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors — and 10 of the 14 WVC programs will be represented.
The local squad with the most participants is Wyoming Valley West with nine, followed by Hazleton Area (six), Wyoming Seminary (five), Tunkhannock (four), Coughlin and Wyoming Area (three each), Crestwood (two), Dallas, GAR, Hanover Area and Pittston Area with one apiece.
The freshman division, which consists of 603 entries and 39 state champions from this past season, will have six participants from the WVC, including Hazleton Area state qualifier Jimmy Hoffman and teammates Chris Lasecki, Jacob Maurer and Anthony Martoccio. Wyoming Valley West’s Bobby Lipski and Wyoming Area’s Kenny Beyer round out the local wrestlers.
The local sophomore group is the largest of the four with 12 athletes wrestling, including Wyoming Area state qualifier Charlie Johnson and teammate Pat Heck. Tunkhannock’s Dakota Quick, Jake Richards, Bill Manley and Mike Manley; Wyoming Seminary’s Ryan Guers and Chris Weiler; Hanover Area’s Kyle Holmgren; Coughlin’s Mike Brown; Wyoming Valley West’s Jon Lagoski and Hazleton Area’s Keith Lowery are also scheduled to wrestle. The sophomore brackets consist of 16 two-time state champs from around the country.
A pair of WVC state qualifiers — Wyoming Valley West’s Cody Cordes and Dallas’ Ryan Monk — are part of the 11 local juniors heading to Virginia. They are joined by Crestwood’s Dylan Miale and Dan Ritz; Wyoming Seminary’s Aaron Klimovich, Gregory Kleinsmith and Michael Rogers; Wyoming Valley West’s James Wright; Coughlin’s Bobby Hawkins; Hazleton Area’s Derek Spachman and Zac Faust of GAR. There are seven juniors who are returning as defending champions in the event.
Five Wyoming Valley West wrestlers make up the seven WVC seniors participating this weekend as 2013 state qualifier Travis Roper and 2014 state medalist Nate Cheek will be joined by teammates Alex Tirko, James Donovan and Ian Moran. Coughlin’s Billy Poray and Pittston Area’s Kevin Wesolowski round out the entries.
A total of 615 wrestlers are entered into the senior tournament from around the nation and Germany. They have combined to win 374 state championships, including 10 four-time state champs.
The freshman and sophomore finals will be held at 5 p.m. Sunday, while the junior and senior finals conclude the championships Sunday at 7 p.m.