LTOONA — The Punxsy wrestling team's Big Three has a new addition.
The Chucks' best three wrestlers — senior Kody Young and juniors Seth Spack and Neko Cappella — were each expected to have a successful first day at the Northwest Region Class AAA Individual Wrestling Tournament Friday night in Altoona. Now, there's a fourth member to add to that trio.
Junior Nathan McGregor joined Young, Spack and Cappella as Punxsy's four wrestlers who advanced to today's championship semifinals. After receiving a bye, Young (125 pounds) won his first and only bout of the night, while Spack (130), Cappella (135) and McGregor (145) each won a couple matches.
All four grapplers now need a victory at noon today to not only reach the final of their respective weight classes, but also accomplish a trip to states.
Punxsy's other four wrestlers — Josh Schuckers (103), Joel Bowers (112), Josh Neal (171) and Tige Woodson (189) — each dropped to the consolation bracket after losses in the championship first round or quarterfinals.
Young (30-2) earned a victory by fall in 5:01 over Bellefonte junior Cody Fisher. With the pin, the senior is now two falls shy of tying Clarion's Kyle Cathcart for the District IX career pin record.
While reaching that mark has long been a goal of Young's, it's all about winning his first bout today.
"Really, making the final is the key. Once you're there, all the pressure's off. You know you're going to states," Young said after winning the district title last Saturday. "You just got out and wrestle (because) it doesn't matter what happens."
Young will face General McLane junior Tim Wheeling (19-4) in the semifinals. Wheeling edged Johnstown's Malcolm Harris, 7-4, in the first round before pinning Allderdice's Henry Dietrick in 1:39 during the quarterfinals.
On the other end of Young and Wheeling's bracket are Indian Valley senior Kaleb Loht (29-2) and McDowell freshman Shawn Spearman (24-9). Both won by fall during the first period of their only bouts.
Cappella (31-6) had to win twice to advance to today's semifinals against Westmont Hilltop senior Tanner Hough (34-2). Cappella dispatched Allerdice's Austin Prino in 46 seconds with a pin before outlasting Corry junior and District X champion Levi Catalfu, 4-2.
Indian Valley's Mason Grove (22-10) and Clearfield's Nolan Barger (28-7) each won by decision during the quarterfinals and will meet in the semifinals on the opposite side of the bracket.
Spack (28-6) beat Titusville's Ehrin Lee in a tight one to start Friday's action, 4-1. After that, he pinned Central Mountain junior and District VI champion Dillon Gavlock in the quarterfinals with a fall in 3:03.
Spack will now oppose McDowell's Dylan Matz (8-2) in the semifinals. Matz earned a 7-2 decision over Bradford's Ryan VanGuilder — whom Spack beat by a 9-2 decision Feb. 15 — in the first round.
Much like 130 pounds, District IX has two semifinalists at 135, with DuBois' Tom Sleigh (27-9) facing Cathedral Prep's Michael McBryde (26-8) on the bottom half of Spack's bracket.
McGregor (27-8) had two victories by fall Friday. He pinned Warren's Corey Barirde in 1:11 and Schenley's James Godbolt in 3:02. McGregor will now face the difficult task of tying to hand Central Mountain junior Brian Brill (38-0) the first loss of this season today in the semifinals.
Philipsburg-Osceola's Logan Walstrom (29-11) and Cathedral Prep's Tyler Parsons (24-5) are also in the 145-pound semifinals.
Bowers (20-15) is still alive in the consolation bracket, while Schuckers' season has come to a close.
Bowers won his first bout — a 50-second pin of Allderdice's Olav Birkeland — before losing to McDowell's Paul Deitz (23-9), 6-2.
Bowers' first consolation victory was by the score of 4-3 over Meadville's George Burrows. Bowers needs three wins today to advance to states, starting against DuBois' Anthony Vizza.
Schuckers (20-15) lost both of his bouts Friday. He suffered a 4-3 decision loss to Bald Eagle sophomore Travis Giedroc before he was eliminated by Hollidaysburg's Damian Huff, 9-3.
Also surviving is Woodson (15-19), who avenged a District IX championship loss to St. Marys' Joe McLaughlin by beating him in the consolation first round Friday night, 3-2. Woodson dropped to the consolation bracket due to an 8-6 loss to Bald Eagle's Aaron Varner.
Just like Bowers, Woodson needs three wins today to continue his season and advance to states, starting with Central Tech's Andrew Welton.
Neal's season came to an end after he was pinned in 1:50 by Central Mountain's Blaze Buckwalter in the consolation bracket. Neal's initial match was a loss by fall in 3:23 to Cathedral Prep's Grant Chase.