The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Sports

March 1, 2013

Harold Raker's column on high school wrestling: Braves find west is best

John Supsic made no bones about it early in the season when asked his opinion on the new postseason alignment for District 4 Class AAA.

No longer part of a four-team tournament, Supsic's Braves and their cross-river rivals, the Selinsgrove Seals, would have to qualify through a combined districts 4 and 9 tournament to get to the regional. Moreover, the regional was also new, as the Valley wrestlers headed west to Altoona and the Northwest Region, rather than the grueling Northeast tourney in Bethlehem.

Both Supsic and Selinsgrove coach Seth Martin were blunt about the fact that they would rather have quality over quantity as they left for the regional.

"We would have kids with losing records (advancing to the Northeast). This is tougher competition and, being in a different regional, I think our kids will have better opportunities," Supsic said.

He noted that, in the Lehigh Valley, a kid who finished fifth in his District 11 tournament one week would often make the regional finals the next week.

Of this week's tourney, which starts this afternoon, Supsic said, "I would say the depth isn't there in the weight classes. Obviously there are some good kids and to get to states you have to beat good kids, but not as many."

The top three place-finishers this weekend move on to the state tournament the following week in Hershey.

Going into last week's tournament, Supsic said he thought the Braves could advance between six and eight to the regional. They advanced seven, including three champions: junior Dwayne Pepper (220 pounds) and seniors Jesse Shambach (182) and Dan Karpinski (285).

"We are pretty much right where I thought we would be and every kid we took has the capability of winning a couple matches," he said.

He said that would give the underclassmen more confidence, knowing that they have a chance to make the state tournament.

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