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### Top 10 Pound-for-Pound High School Wrestling Rankings in Lehigh Valley

Six of the top 10 pound-for-pound wrestlers in the Lehigh Valley area are set to compete against some of the state’s finest at the upcoming PIAA Team Wrestling Championships this weekend.

Here’s a preview of the contenders who have the opportunity to challenge the local athletes:

Class 3A

— Central Dauphin, seeded fourth in District 3, will rely on its six state-ranked wrestlers as they face off against Bethlehem Catholic, the District 11 champion, in the opening round on Thursday at 6 p.m. Thunder Beard (31-5) and Ryan Garvick (34-4) are leading the 12th-ranked Rams, holding the fourth position at 107 and 160, respectively. Garvick, an Indiana commit, boasts 147 career victories. Liam Flanagan, ranked sixth at 139, with a record of 28-4 this season and 120-29 overall, is bound for Washington & Lee. Bethlehem Catholic, ranked third, suffered its last team postseason defeat in 2021 against Central Dauphin with a score of 29-26.

Prediction: Bethlehem Catholic to win 44-18

— Easton, ranked fourth, will take on West Scranton, the District 2 champion, in the first round on Thursday at 8 p.m. The 26th-ranked Invaders will be led by Connor Lagier (24-6; No. 6 at 107), Tyson Cook (28-5; No. 7 at 127), and Michael Turi (28-1; No. 4 at 145). Turi, who finished seventh at states last year, suffered his only loss this season to Maddox Shaw, the returning state runner-up from Thomas Jefferson. This marks Easton’s first appearance in the PIAA team tournament since 2013.

Prediction: Easton to win 42-15

— Pennridge, ranked eighth, is set to face Erie Cathedral Prep, the 24th-ranked team, which clinched the District 10 title for the eighth time in the last nine seasons. The Ramblers feature three top-25 wrestlers in Keagan Oler (23-3; No. 18 at 127), Brandon Byrd (17-3; No. 22 at 152), and Gabe Dorman (25-6; No. 25 at 145). Pennridge, making its second consecutive appearance, is gearing up with the return of key players like Colby Martinelli and Chase Washington.

Prediction: Pennridge to win 39-15

Class 2A

— Faith Christian, the top-ranked team, will go up against Reynolds, the District 10 champion, in the opening round at 4 p.m. The fifth-ranked Raiders boast four wrestlers in the top 10 rankings: Louie Gill (32-5; No. 3 at 121), Logan Stewart (26-6; No. 3 at 127), Waylon Waite (22-6; No. 8 at 114), and Chase Bell (22-8; No. 9 at 139). Faith Christian’s lineup includes higher-ranked wrestlers in several weight classes, such as Joey Bachmann, Gauge Botero, Mason Wagner, Cael Weidemoyer, and Adam Waters.

Prediction: Faith Christian to win 43-15

— Notre Dame-GP, ranked third, will compete against Bald Eagle Area, the 6th District runner-up, in the first round at 4 p.m. The 11th-ranked Eagles feature four top-10 competitors, while the Crusaders have the advantage of having returning state champion Ayden Smith in their lineup.

Prediction: Notre Dame-GP to win 36-19

Lehigh Valley Area Top 10 Pound-for-Pound Wrestlers

(As of Wednesday’s matches)

  1. Sr. Sean Kinney, Nazareth (28-1, 1): Holds a school-record of 89 pins heading into the individual postseason.

  2. Jr. Kollin Rath, Bethlehem Catholic (30-1, 3): Riding a 27-match winning streak, including a victory over Pottsville’s Nick Kunstek at 160.

  3. Jr. Gauge Botero, Faith Christian (18-0, 4): Boasts 60 career pins.

  4. Fr. Joey Bachmann, Faith Christian (25-0, 2): Did not compete in the Lions’ sole match.

  5. So. Adam Waters, Faith Christian (29-4, 5): Accumulated 73 career wins in less than two seasons.

  6. Sr. Mason Ziegler, Quakertown (35-3, 6): Won five of his last six matches in a higher weight class at 133.

  7. Jr. Collin Gaj, Quakertown (32-4, 7): Holds 126 career victories, including 75 pins.

  8. Sr. Ayden Smith, Notre Dame-GP (33-2, 8): Closing in on the school record with 136 career wins.

  9. Fr. Gabe Ballard, Northampton (32-1, 9): Notched 23 bonus-point wins.

  10. So. Keanu Dillard, Bethlehem Catholic (26-5, 10): Won 15 of his last 16 matches, with his only loss to Botero.

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order): Emilio Albanese, Emmaus (28-2); Keegan Demarest, Pocono Mountain East (31-5); Noah Fenner, Easton (23-2); Luke Fugazzotto, Northwestern (30-3); Jared Karabinus, Freedom (26-1); Calvin Lachman, Quakertown (36-3); Colby Martinelli, Pennridge (9-1); Tahir Parkins, Nazareth (30-2); Max Stein, Faith Christian (27-7); Cael Weidemoyer, Faith Christian (11-1)

For inquiries, contact Morning Call reporter Tom Housenick at 610-820-6651 or via email at [email protected]