XP goes extinct... sort of


The Southeast Regional will take place Friday night (6 p.m.) with the pigtail round and Saturday (10 a.m.) for 12 area wrestlers. The top five finishers from the South meet the top five from the North with the elite final four advancing to the PIAA State Championships next week.

Spring-Ford and Great Valley each have four wrestlers still competing while Owen J. Roberts has three and Phoenixville two.

Leading the contingent are three South champions in Spring-Ford's second-seeded Matt Moley (103 pounds) and Owen J. Roberts' second-seeded Dan Hoffman (145) and second-seeded Billy Kropp (215). Kropp, however, is a late scratch due to a torn ACL.

Moley is still unbeaten (37-0), but he will have his work cut out this weekend against North champion Rick Rappo of Council Rock South (36-2) and Upper Perkiomen's Chris Sheetz (36-2).

Hoffman (28-6) must get past Upper Perkiomen's Brent Fiorito (37-6), the North titlist; Council Rock South's Chris Chambers (38-3) and Pennridge's Kyle Wireman (23-8).

Kropp saw his season end with a 28-4 record. The other leaders at 215 are Perkiomen Valley's top-seeded Steve Van Alstine (35-2), the North champion; Pennsbury's Joe Bergen (32-4) and Pennridge's Steve Funk (31-4). Van Alstine won his district championship with an overtime rideout over Bergen after a 4-4 score in regulation time.

Phoenixville's 215-pounder, Kevin West (26-6), took third place last weekend behind Kropp and Oxford's Cullen Todd (26-10). West, a sixth seed, will face Bergen, a third seed, in the first round.

Phantom teammate Bill Bleiler (189) made the cut with a fifth-place finish at Spring-Ford last Saturday. Bleiler (22-9), a 10th seed, faces No. 7 Brandon Sullivan (25-7) of Central Bucks West, a fourth-place finisher, in the preliminary round.

"They (Phantoms) have earned everything that is coming to them," said Phoenixville first-year head coach John Tornetta. "They have done a tremendous job all season and in the wrestling room. They are wo quality young men. They worked hard all year."

Each step becomes more difficult, but Tornetta said the survivors have gone through difficult competition at Section IV and the South, too.

"This week is the pivotal role to get to states," Tornetta said. "Everybody there is good. Anybody's good. It is whoever is hot and mentally on."

The Phantoms spent time this week practicing with Boyertown heavyweight Mike Spaid, the Outstanding Wrestler at districts; and Kropp.

"They are good quality people," Tornetta said. "You wrestle them and you get better."

The Rams' other participants are Eric Smith (125), Mike Moley (130) and Chris Gwaltney (152), who are all coming off second-pace finishes.

Smith (33-2) is in a weight class with Quakertown's Nate Nauroth (31-2), Council Rock South's Jerry Balasco (33-5) and Oxford's Jarrett Hostetter (34-3), the South champion.

Mike Moley (33-4) was stunned by fall at :38 in the finals against Springfield Delco's Sean Reed (26-1) at districts, but he will be looking to make a return trip to states. The 130-pound weight class also includes West Chester East's Mike Tavani (33-2), Upper Perkiomen's Sam Walters (31-12) and Central Bucks West's Pete Farrara (28-6).

Gwaltney (34-6) dropped a 5-3 overtime decision to Springfield Delco's Steve Shillady (29-2) in the district finals. Others to watch here include Pennridge's Dan Geib (31-4), Neshaminy's Brian Rowan (28-4) and Council Rock South's Austin Carter (34-9).

Great Valley, which is being coached by Owen Brown in place of Joe Tornetta, who was suspended for flagrant misconduct at the Section IV tournament; has Bill Hasen (119), Scott D'Annunzio (135), Alex Segal (171) and Drew Smith (189) still alive.

Hasen (26-9) is in with Norristown senior star Tim Harner (44-0), Conestoga's Paul Bacci (31-5), Council Rock South's Dillon Evans (26-12) and Upper Perkiomen's Brandon Clemmer (35-5).

D'Annunzio (23-5) took second last week. He must battle Upper Perkiomen's Darren Kern (38-1), Downingtown West's Chris Reynolds (30-5), Pennridge's A.J. Detwiler (26-7) and Neshaminy's Jeff Warusz (32-4).

Segal (25-8), who placed fourth, is in with Quakertown's Pat Flynn (30-3), William Tennent's Curtis Beardsell (34-1), Perkiomen Valley's Brian Stouffer (36-4) and Lower Merion's Isaac Katz (29-1).

Smith (19-6), another silver medalist, must compete with Pennridge's Dan Goetter (33-2), Haverford's Craig Cline (30-1), Upper Perkiomen's Jake Engle (33-8) and Upper Moreland's Nick Shute (34-2).

Owen J. Roberts' silver medalist, Brett Gardy (23-6), who dropped a tough 3-2 decision to Conestoga's Paul Capriolo (36-1) in the finals at 112. Gardy must also deal with Council Rock South's Mike Rappo (31-7), Upper Perkiomen's Zack Kemmerer (36-5), Norristown's Jake Bucha (38-9) and Pennridge's Ed Geib (25-9).

Returning regional champions include Harner at 112, Kern at 125 and Pennridge senior 275-pounder Doug Weidner (34-3), who won at 215 in 2003.

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Three St. Pius X wrestlers will compete in the Class AA Southeast Regional at Wilson High School in West Lawn.

They are district champions Zach McCann (215), a senior with a 26-3 record; and Mike Yesesky (275), a junior who stands at 15-17; as well as second-place finisher Cory Weiss (103), a junior at 17-16 who won a wrestle-off for the berth.

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