Few wrestling teams have been as dominant in recent years as the Saucon Valley Panthers. This year, Saucon with its 18-0 record has won their seventh straight Colonial League title. In addition, just last weekend, the Panthers secured a fourth consecutive District XI championship and once again qualified for the PIAA state tournament.
Saucon Valley is no stranger to Hershey’s Giant Center Arena and the PIAA wrestling championships. As a team, the Panthers have qualified and made the trip to Hershey every year since 2013. In 2016, Saucon came close but fell to Brookville in the state championship final. Could this be the year that the Panthers bring home the gold?
The Panthers are the #3 ranked team in Pennsylvania, but Thursday’s opening round (4 p.m.) has Saucon squaring off against the Muncy Indians who are the #4 ranked team in the state. From the outset, this journey is not going to be easy for Saucon Valley . The Panthers fell to Muncy last year in the PIAA state quarterfinals. But, that was then, this is now!
Thanks to a little help from www.pa-wrestling.com, here are the Panthers potential matchups with the Indians……..
- SV’s Chris Arciuolo Fr. (17-3) or Connor Nicholas Fr. (8-4) v. Alex Maiorana Fr. (6-20)
- Arciuolo has been bitten by the injury bug and is on the long road of recovery. But if he is healthy enough and available, the Panthers may bump him up a weight class and let Nicholas handle Maiorana. Bangor’s Allen Klaver was pinned by both Nicholas and Maiorana in the first period back in early January.
- SV’s Chris Arciuolo Fr. or Cael Markel Fr. (18-10) v. Chase Crawley Fr. (18-11)
- If Arciuolo can go, there is a good chance the Panthers use him here and not at 106. Markel is a solid wrestler and did defeat Crawley 4-0 at the “Top Hat” tourney back in December. If Markle does not bump up to 120, it looks like he and Crawley will give us a competitive scrap.
- SV’s Cael Markle or Kevin Dyer Jr. (8-11) v. Grady Oden Sr. (14-14)
- Whether it is Markle or Dyer, this should also be a competitive bout. Six of Dyer’s eight wins came at 120 and he has shown that he has a knack to quickly surprise his opponents. Both Dyer and Oden never wrestled head to head, but they do have a common opponent in Quakertown’s Corey Cope. Cope majored Oden 11-0 and pinned Dyer in the second period.
- SV’s Kevin Dyer or Ryan Gilbert Fr. (4-13) v. Jacob Hill Jr. (6-9) or Bryce Vollman So. (20-4)
- Dyer or Gilbert both have a good chance against Hill, but if Vollman drops the Panthers will be challenged big time. Vollman has wrestled at the 126 lb. weight class nine times this season including his last two matches.
- SV’s Josh Jones Sr. (27-4) v. Bryce Vollman or Mario Barberio Jr. (28-6)
- One would figure that Jones is heavily favored here whether he has Vollman or Barberio. Jones forced Vollman to injury-default at “Top Hat” and did defeat him in the team quarterfinals last season 16-5. Barberio and Jones don’t seem to have a history, but they do have four common opponents to gauge from. Jones is 4-0 against those opponents while Barberio is 2-2. Muncy may choose to forfeit this weight class like they did in last week’s District IV final against #1 ranked Southern Columbia.
- SV’s Thomas Spirk Jr. (24-5) v. Mario Barberio Jr. (28-6)
- Spirk defeated Barberio at the “Top Hat” by a 10-3 score and seems to just be getting better as the season rolls along. Of the four common opponents they faced this season Spirk is 4-0 and Barberio is 3-1. Almost half of Spirk’s wins are pins. Eight of those pins have come in the first period.
- SV’s Nick Rosengrant Sr. (21-7) v. Christian Good (26-8)
- Rosengrant and Good have never wrestled each other, but they have seven common opponents from throughout their careers. Rosengrant is a perfect 7-0 picking up bonus points (including four falls) in six of those contests. Good is 7-3. In six of Good’s wins he was awarded bonus points including three falls.
- SV’s Ty Csencsits Fr. (13-7) or Dante Mahaffey Fr. (10-8) v. Coleman Good Sr. (15-3)
- The Panther freshmen may have their hands full against this senior. Bangor’s Gavin Sandt is the only common opponent between Good and Mahaffey. Sandt decisioned Mahaffey 9-2 on Jan. 9. Good was good for a tech-fall against Sandt at the Zephyr Duals on Jan. 5. Csencsits and Good have one common opponent in Line Mountain’s Jacob Feese. Csencsits dropped a 4-0 decision to Feese while Good defeated Feese 4-3.
- SV’s Matt Arciuolo Jr. (26-4) v. Gavin Eisenhower Sr. (5-1) or Ty Nixon Fr. (21-11)
- Arciuolo is a takedown machine and should cruise here. Eisenhower, a senior has seen limited action and was 19-21 last season. Nixon is a promising freshman with a nice record. Regarding the four opponents they have in common, Arciuolo is 4-0 while Nixon is 1-3.
- SV’s Jarrett Hirschbeck Sr. (12-8) v. Ethan Gush So. (26-7) or Gavin Eisenhower Sr. (5-1)
- Hirschbeck is likely the underdog here against Gush, but that probably won’t faze him. Hirschbeck has a knack for pulling off the dramatic. Nonetheless, he will be challenged here. There are two common opponents of which Hirschbeck is 1-1 while Gush is 2-0. Eisenhower and Hirschbeck also have a common opponent in Liberty’s Joshua Talijan. Talijan majored Hirschbeck 12-2 and decisioned Eisenhower 5-2.
- SV’s Braydyn Lugardo Jr. (16-8) v. Ethan Gush or Mike Kustanbauter Sr. (30-4)
- It is unlikely Gush will bump up to 182, but it is possible. Gush has wrestled at 182 five times this season and went 5-0. Gush and Lugardo have never met and they do not have any common opponents. In their two meetings, Kustanbauter defeated Lugardo twice. Last year Kustanbauter majored Lugardo 15-2. This season Lugardo closed the gap at the “Top Hat” but lost 2-0. Hopefully, the third time will be the charm for Lugardo.
- SV’s Dane Csencsits Jr.(23-5) v. Mike Kustanbauter or Tristen Ditzler So. (10-11)
- Csencsits would likely be a heavy favorite if he faces Ditzler. Their lopsided record comparisons aside, Csencsits is 2-0 against their common opponents while Ditzler is 0-2. If Kustanbauter bumps up, this could be a very competitive matchup. Even though they never faced each other, there are four common opponents between them. Csencsits is 3-1 while Kustanbauter is 4-1. All indicators suggest it would be a very even and entertaining fight if these two big boys go at it.
- SV’s Jared Harka Sr. (11-7) v. Cael Hembury Jr. (23-12)
- This appears as if it will be another tight battle. Harka and Hembury faced off at the “Top Hat” where Harka won 4-3. Bangor’s Nick Nittoli pinned both Harka and Hembury. On Jan. 5, Hembury got flattened in :36 seconds. Harka fell to Nittoli in 3:50.
- SV’s Nick Warnke Jr. (23-3) v. Gavin Hillman Fr. (4-8) or Coty Steele Sr. (1-3)
- This one seems as lopsided as they get. Warnke pinned Steele, a senior, in last years PIAA quarterfinals. Hillman, a freshman, would have to catch Warnke in a headlock or something to pull off the upset. Warnke is too good to let that happen.
Good luck Panthers, the Source is with you!