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### Top Pound for Pound High School Wrestling Rankings in Lehigh Valley for the PIAA Tournament

Gabe Ballard possesses a captivating and unique wrestling style that defies simple description. However, in the past two late Saturday afternoons, the Northampton freshman has found himself compelled to adjust his approach. This need for adaptation arises from facing a familiar opponent across the mat, with Bethlehem Catholic freshman Reef Dillard proving to be a formidable rival in Ballard’s wrestling journey.

The close competition between Ballard and Dillard necessitates constant modifications in strategy. Ballard emphasized the necessity of altering his tactics in each match, as opponents like Dillard quickly pick up on subtle patterns and adjustments become essential. Reflecting on his matches against Dillard, Ballard acknowledged the significant shift in his approach, highlighting the need for versatility and adaptability in the sport.

Despite the need for adjustments, Ballard remains steadfast in maintaining his unorthodox wrestling style, staying true to his identity on the mat. Finding a delicate balance in every match is crucial, as Ballard attested to the dynamic nature of wrestling and the continuous need for strategic flexibility.

Both Ballard and Dillard are set to compete at Hershey’s Giant Center for the first time, each positioned at opposite ends of the Class 3A 114-pound bracket. To potentially face each other in the final, they must navigate through a competitive field, with formidable opponents such as Pennridge’s Colby Martinelli and Norwin’s Landon Sidun posing significant challenges in their respective paths.

The anticipation builds as the top contenders gear up for the PIAA gold, with Ballard, Dillard, and their competitors showcasing exceptional skill and determination. Dillard’s remarkable progress since December has elevated him to the forefront of contention, promising an exciting and fiercely competitive bracket to unfold over the weekend.

As the wrestling action unfolds, Ballard and Dillard remain just a few victories away from a potential showdown on another late Saturday afternoon. The stage is set for an intense and thrilling competition as these talented wrestlers aim for glory in their respective weight classes.

In addition, here are the latest top 10 pound-for-pound rankings in the Lehigh Valley area:

Lehigh Valley area top 10 pound-for-pound wrestlers

  1. Sr. Sean Kinney, Nazareth (35-1, 1): Noteworthy for his impressive 95 career pins.

  2. Jr. Kollin Rath, Bethlehem Catholic (41-1, 2): Secured the overall No. 1 seed at Class 3A 152.

  3. Fr. Joey Bachmann, Faith Christian (34-0, 3): Positioned in the opposite half of the 2A 107 bracket from Chestnut Ridge’s Dominic Deputy, the other unbeaten wrestler in that weight class.

  4. So. Adam Waters, Faith Christian (39-4, 4): Earned the top seed at 2A 172.

  5. Sr. Mason Ziegler, Quakertown (45-3, 6): Boasts an impressive track record of 162 career victories, with 82 wins by pin.

  6. Jr. Collin Gaj, Quakertown (41-3, 7): A seasoned competitor with three sectional and regional championship titles.

  7. Jr. Gauge Botero, Faith Christian (26-2, 5): A returning state champion with a challenging quarterfinal matchup against 2022 state champion Louie Gill of Reynolds.

  8. Sr. Ayden Smith, Notre Dame-GP (45-2, 8): Closing in on the school’s career wins record with just four wins away.

  9. So. Keanu Dillard, Bethlehem Catholic (37-5, 9): Faces a potential first-round matchup against Pennridge’s Cole Coffin in 3A 121, having previously defeated him 1-0 at Escape the Rock.

  10. Fr. Gabe Ballard, Northampton (38-1, 10): Positioned in the same bracket half as Pennridge’s Colby Martinelli and Norwin’s Landon Sidun in 3A 114.

Honorable mention (in alphabetical order): Gavin Carroll, Quakertown (41-6); Keegan Demarest, Pocono Mountain East (37-7); Reef Dillard, Bethlehem Catholic (33-12); Chase Hontz, Faith Christian (36-8); Jared Karabinus, Freedom (32-2); Calvin Lachman, Quakertown (44-4); Colby Martinelli, Pennridge (21-1); Tahir Parkins, Nazareth (37-2); Nick Salamone, Easton (32-6); Cael Weidemoyer, Faith Christian (20-2)

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