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Warrior Run, Selinsgrove gear up for state duals

Feb. 5—After last weekend's District 4 team duals, two Valley squads remain in contention for a state title.

Warrior Run, the Class 2A champion, and Selinsgrove, the 3A winner, kick off PIAA action Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

The Defenders, who ranked sixth in the state at 2A, will compete as a team at states for the second consecutive year. They come into the state duals undefeated at 21-0. Warrior Run will take on Fort LeBoeuf in the first round at 2 p.m. Fort LeBoeuf defeated Mount Pleasant 40-28 in a pigtail match Monday. The Bison were forced to wrestle in the pigtail after falling 33-27 to Reynolds in the District 10 championship.

"The state tournament's just an awesome, awesome experience," Warrior Run coach Jeremy Betz said Saturday. "To be able to step on the Giant Center floor with your whole team — I mean there are great wrestlers who go their whole life in high school and never get to step foot in the Giant Center. To be able to take your whole team down, to be able to step foot where the best wrestlers in the state of Pennsylvania — which is the greatest wrestling state in the country — when you get to step foot on there, it's a different feeling."

Thursday's matchup between the Defenders and the Bison will be a rematch of last year's first-round bout. Fort LeBoeuf defeated Warrior Run 33-24 en route to the state final where it lost 54-12 to Faith Christian Academy.

After defeating West Perry in the first consolation match, Warrior Run was eliminated from the 2023 state duals with a 27-26 loss to Brookville.

"I think that first loss last year (to Fort LeBoeuf) at states was on us as a coaching staff," Betz said. "I think we outthought ourselves a little bit. We potentially over-coached and overthought the matchups, and just didn't go out and wrestle. I think this year the kids are excited to be able to go back down and send the lineup out and hopefully be able to go out with that first win."

The winner of Thursday's match will take on either District 5 champion Chestnut Ridge or District 3 runner-up Berks Catholic in the quarterfinals on Friday at 12 p.m.

Warrior Run boasts some impressive dual wins, including four wins against Montoursville and Towanda. The Defenders have also upended Montgomery and Gettysburg, which is ranked fifth in 3A.

The Defenders have five wrestlers ranked in the state, including Reagan and Cameron Milheim, who rank first at 145 and 152 pounds, respectively. Both Milheims have identical records of 34-1 this season.

Max Wirnsberger (133), Tyler Ulrich (139) and Cole Shupp (172) are also ranked in the state for the Defenders.

Fort LeBoeuf boasts six wrestlers ranked in the state: Jake Bennett (127), JoJo Przybycien (160), Ryan Welka (172), Conner McChesney (189), Jack Sangl (215) and John Duran (285).

As for the Seals, they're making their second-ever appearance in the state duals after qualifying in 2019. Selinsgrove (10-3) qualified for the state tournament after getting past rival Shikellamy on Saturday, 29-26. The Seals avenged a 37-22 to the Braves on Jan. 25.

Selinsgrove will open against WPIAL runner-up Trinity on Thursday at 6 p.m. Trinity is coming off a one-point loss to Connellsville in the District 7 championship.

"I know our back will up against the wall going into Thursday," said Selinsgrove coach Seth Martin. "My expectation for Thursday will be that we compete, score as many points as we possibly can, and keep the scores as competitive as possible."

The winner has a chance to meet two-time defending state champion Bethlehem Catholic in the quarterfinal round on Friday at 2 p.m.

The Hillers are ranked No. 10 in the state in 3A and feature five state-ranked wrestlers. They are Dominick Canali (121), Blake Reihner (139), Thomas Allison (145), Bodie Morgan (172) and Robbie Allison (189). Both Reihner and Morgan are committed to wrestle at Davidson.

The Seals have three state-ranked wrestlers in Ethan Miller (160), Tucker Teats (189) and Jack Peters (285).

"They have a solid team throughout," Martin said of Trinity. "There are a few matches I believe we can take from them, and a couple are where my best kids are at. So it will make for some good matchups."