ELYSBURG — Fresh off their frustrating loss to Reynolds in Saturday’s championship of the PIAA Class 2A Team Tournament in Hershey, the Southern Columbia Tigers will start with a clean slate and six No. 1 seeded wrestlers as they look to defend their District 4 South Sectional Tournament title.
Last season, when Southern Columbia lost the state dual title to Reynolds for the second time, the Tigers rolled to the championship every weekend for the rest of the season, culminating with the state individual tournament crown.
Speaking after collecting the silver medal in Hershey last week, coach Jerry Marks briefly smiled at the reference to what the Tigers did a year ago, but quickly said that every week now is an individual tournament, and that is the focus — not winning team titles.
The goal, he said, is to get as many of their wrestlers as possible on the podium in Hershey the first week of March. He noted that if the Tigers do that, the team points will be there.
Southern Columbia’s six top seeds this weekend are led by returning state champion and three-time PIAA medalist Gaige Garcia.
The senior 195-pounder is headed to the University of Michigan to wrestle and play football next year. He brings a 36-0 record into the sectional.
Also seeded No. 1 for the Tigers are returning PIAA runner-up Kole Biscoe (33-4) at 120; freshman Wesley Barnes (27-9) at 152; sophomore Gavin Garcia (15-1), who placed fourth in the state last year, at 160; returning two-time seventh-place medalist Cade Linn (21-4) at 170; and returning PIAA fourth-place medalist senior Lear Quinton (29-7) at 285.
Line Mountain and Mifflinburg each picked up a pair of top seeds, while Danville, Lewisburg, Milton and Midd-West earned one each.
The Eagles’ top seeds are returning state qualifiers sophomore Mason Leshock (23-13) at 126, and junior Jacob Feese (26-7) at 182. No. 1 seeds for Mifflinburg are senior Clayton Reed (24-7) at 138, and junior Quentin Doane (28-9) at 220.
The other wrestlers from the Valley to earn the top spot: freshman Blake Sassaman, Danville (20-6) at 106; and returning state qualifiers — Lewisburg sophomore Kaiden Wagner (25-3) at 113; Milton junior Kyler Crawford (26-8) at 132; and Midd-West junior Avery Bassett (29-1) at 145.
The top four from each weight class will advance to the district tournament the following weekend in Williamsport.
In the Central Sectional, to be held at Hughesville High School, Meadowbrook Christian Academy freshman Cade Wirnsberger (25-2) is the No. 1 seed at 106. He will first wrestle the winner of a matchup between No. 5 Kaden Milheim (18-7), a Warrior Run freshman, and No. 4 Branden Wentzel (33-4), a freshman from Montoursville.
Warrior Run has a pair of No. 2 seeds: senior returning state qualifier Noah Hunt (21-6) at 132, and senior Hoyt Bower (13-7) at 195.
Meadowbrook Christian freshman Gunner Treibley (27-7) is the No. 2 seed at 285.