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PIAA Mat Pairings Announced

The pairings are set for the opening round of the PIAA wrestling tournament, which begins today (March 10) at Hershey's Giant Center.

In the Class AA tournament, Wyalusing Valley's Mike Cobb, competing at 171 pounds, will face Bedford's Brian Gibbons in the opening round.

Cobb, the Northeast Regional runner-up, enters the tournament with a 34-3 record this year. His three losses were to two other PIAA qualifiers—twice to Lewisburg's Nathaniel Brown, who also is in the 171-pound bracket, and once to Muncy's Ryan Hembury, who qualified at 189 pounds.

Gibbons, the Southwest Regional third-place finisher, enters the tournament with a 37-4 record.

Also, at 171 pounds, Towanda's Garrett VanDeMark, the Northeast third-place finisher, will face Fort Cherry's Sam Guidi, the Southwest runner-up, in his opening bout. VanDeMark is 42-7, while Guidi is 31-5.

Cobb and VanDeMark, who have wrestled three times this season, are on the same side of the 16-man bracket.

Besides VanDeMark, Towanda has three other wrestlers competing in Hershey this week.

Cody Wheeler, a state third-place finisher last year, enters this year's tournament with a 45-1 record at 125 pounds. The Northeast Region champ will face Saucon Valley's Paul Sloand (27-14) in the opening round. Sloand was fifth in the Southeast Regional.

At 135 pounds, Towanda's Caleb Willey will face Ft. LeBoeuf's Riley Smith in the opener. Willey, the Northeast runner-up, enters the bout with a 40-6 record, while Smith, who was third in the Northwest Region, is 31-13.

Aaron Schultz, the Northeast runner-up, wrestling at 285 for Towanda, takes a 40-6 record into his opener against Southwest third-place finisher Corey Garry (31-3).

Sullivan County's Shawn Nitcznski and Williamson's Logan Everett are both in the 103-pound bracket.

Nitcznski, the Northeast runner-up to Everett, takes a 33-2 record into his opening-round bout against Sharon's Cody Buchanan, the Northwest third-place finisher with a 28-9 record.

Everett takes a 38-1 record into his opener against Ted Marines of Bermudian Springs. Marines, the Southeast fifth-place finisher, has a 31-8 record.

Troy's Braden Calkins, the Northeast third-place wrestler at 119 pounds, will meet Claysburg-Kimmel's James Dodson in his opener. Calkins is 37-5, while Dodson, the Southwest runner-up, is 40-3.

At 140, Wellsboro's Brenton Acorn, 35-10, will face Ft. LeBoeuf's Kody Pace. Acorn, the Northeast third-place finisher, is 35-10, while Pace, the Northwest runner-up, is 32-9.

Northeast Bradford's Jake Balchinkonis, wrestling at 160 pounds, faces Pequea Valley's Raymond Ball. Balchikonis, who was third in the Northeast Regional, enters the bout with a 31-6 record, while Ball, the Southeast runner-up, is 38-10.

Thursday's Class AA preliminary round begins at 9 a.m., to be followed by the first-round consolations at approximately 12:15 p.m.

The quarterfinals will be held Friday at 8 a.m., followed by the second-round consolations at 9:45 a.m. Later that day, the semifinals and third-round consolations are slated for 6:30 p.m. The fourth-round consolations are set for 9 p.m.

On Saturday, the medal rounds will be held with the third-, fifth- and seventh-place bouts held at 12:30 p.m.

The championship finals are slated for 2:30 p.m.

Medals are awarded to the top eight finishers. A wrestler needs to win at least two bouts to medal.

Sullivan County's Shawn Nitcznski, left, looks for back points against Western Wayne's Evan Decker during their 103-pound semifinal bout at the Northeast Regional. Nitcznski won the bout, 9-0, to secure a spot at the PIAA championships this week.

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