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VALLEY SPORTS REPORT: ATHENS' COURTNEY "WRESTLER OF YEAR" — TIOGA'S WORTHING, WAVERLY'S BURKHART LEAD REST OF "SUPER 7" (2016-03-25)

Valley Sports Report
THE VALLEY — It’s nearly impossible do something that’s never been done before in the long and illustrious history of PIAA wrestling, but Athens junior Brian Courtney did just that in beating three returning state champs in consecutive matches to claim a state title.

Courtney is the hands-down choice to lead the “All-Valley Super 7” as the 2015-16 Valley Sports Report “Wrestler of the Year.”

Courtney becomes the seventh state champ in school history and only the third three-time PIAA place-winner — he finished third place as a freshman and runner-up as a sophomore — in Athens wrestling history.

Courtney won his third North Section title, third District 4 title and third Northeast Regional title on his way to States. He beat Bedford’s Jon Gabriel, last year’s 126-pound champ, Reynolds’ Cole Matthews, who beat him in the 120-pound title match last year, and Central Cambria’s Max Murin, last year’s 113-pound champ, en route to his first title.

Earlier this year, Courtney won a Saucon Valley Tournament title and a Jarvis Tournament title, and was second at the Christmas City Tournament (losing to two-time Class AAA state champ Luke Karam of Bethlehem Catholic.), and the Bedford Tournament (losing to Gabriel).

Courtney wrapped up his junior season with a 41-2 record and is 110-4 for his career.

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Athens freshman David Galasso finished up his first varsity season with a 15-7 record, including a key, 3-2, win over Troy’s Hunter Cohick in the Wildcats’ 42-38 win over their NTL rival.

Wrestling up at 160 pounds, Galasso went 1-2 at the North Section Tournament.

The remainder of the "All-Valley Super 7" is as follows:

John Worthing, freshman, Tioga: Worthing breezed through the Section IV Championships before pinning top seed Eli Rodriguez in the finals. (Rodriguez would go on to finish third at States after earning a wild card berth.)

At the New York State Championships, Worthing rung up a pair of quick pins (37 and 48 seconds) and a technical fall before dropping a 5-1 decision in the states finals to Central Valley’s Jon Charles.

Worthing won an IAC title and a Class D title, as well as finishing first at the North Country Invitational. He was second at the rugged Windsor Christmas Tournament and second at the Fallen Heroes Tournament.

Worthing finished the season at 35-5 — his second straight 35-win season — and has 80 wins in career.

A.J. Burkhart, sophomore, Waverly: Just 3 1/2 days before his first match at the New York State Championships, Burkhart — the returning state champ at 99 pounds — tore the MCL in his right knee.

Despite the injury and basically wrestling on one leg, Burkhart won his first two bouts Friday to advance to the semifinals, but lost three one-point decisions Saturday to finish sixth.

Burkhart won an IAC title, Class B title and Section IV title, as well as earning first-place finishes at  the Penfield Holiday Tournament, the Windsor Christmas Tournament and the Mike Watson Invitational.

He finished the season at 35-6 and has 108 wins in his career.

Gage Cannavino, junior, Athens: Cannavino reeled off a 38-9 record on the season and seemed to get better as the season progressed.

He finished second at the North Section tournament, finished second at District 4 Championships and third at the Northeast Regionals. He was 0-2 at States.

Earlier in the season, Cannavino finished third at the Saucon Valley Tournament, fourth at the Christmas City Tournament, and fifth at the rugged Bedford Tournament.

Nate Bradley, sophomore, Athens: Bradley, who returned from injury after the first of the year, won his first eight bouts of the season, but saved his best for the end of the season, finishing with a 22-11 record.

He finished fourth at North Section Tournament, was fifth at the District 4 Championships, and fourth at the Northeast Regionals

He finished fourth at the rugged Bedford Tournament earlier in the season.

Roger Horton, senior, Athens: The eldest Horton brother was a force all season and racked up a 36-6 record.

Earlier in the season, Roger Horton won a Jarvis Tournament title and a Christmas City Tournament title, finished second at the Saucon Valley Tournament, and was fifth at the rugged Bedford Tournament.

He won the North Section title, finished third at District 4 Championships and was fifth at the Northeast Regionals.

Austin Lamb, freshman, Tioga: Lamb started the season with a third-place finish at the rugged Marino Invitational and got better as the season went on.

He finished second at the IAC Championships, losing to Burkhart for the third time this season, then won the Class D title, before finishing third at the Section IV Championships. He narrowly missed an at-large bid and was an alternate at the state tournament.

Lamb won the Fallen Heroes Tournament, and was second (losing to Burkhart) at the Windsor Christmas Tournament.

 He was 29-11 this season and 65 career wins.

“The Second 7”

Kaidon Winters, junior, Athens:
Winters, 31-12 on the season, finished second at the North Section tournament, fifth at District 4 Championships, and fifth at the Northeast Regionals.

Earlier in the season, he finished second at the Saucon Valley Tournament and the Christmas City Tournament. third at the Jarvis Tournament, and fifth at the rugged Bedford Tournament.

Chris Horton, sophomore, Athens: Chris Horton, 30-9 on the season, won a North Section title and finished sixth at District 4 Championships.

Earlier in the season, he was second at the Saucon Valley Tournament, the Jarvis Tournament, and the Christmas City Tournament, and was third at the rugged Bedford Tournament.

Brock Horton, junior, Athens: Horton, who had a 27-10 record on the season, won the North Section Tournament.

Earlier in the season, he won a title at the Jarvis Tournament, was third at the Saucon Valley Tournament, and fifth at the rugged Bedford Tournament.

Gavin McCutcheon, senior, Sayre: McCutcheon, who posted a 25-13 record, finished second at the North Section tournament, fourth at D4 Championships, and sixth at the Northeast Regionals.

Earlier in the season, McCutcheon finished fifth at the Tunkhannock Kiwanis Tournament.

Ethan Stotler, 8th-grade, Waverly: Stotler finished 23-9 with a second-place finish at the Mike Watson Invitational and third at the IAC Championships.

Tanner Folk, senior, Tioga:
After a five-year lay-off from the mats, Folk returned and posted a 19-9 record. He finished third at the Fallen Heroes Tournament and was fourth at the IAC Championships and the Windsor Christmas Tournament.

Zach Blayda, junior, Tioga: Blayda missed a large chunk of the season, but finished strong by winning an IAC title. He finished fifth at the Section IV Championships and had a 15-5 record on the season.

Wrestlers to Watch in 2016-17:


Jalen McCarty, 8th-grader, Waverly:  McCarty was 15-7 this season.

Brady Worthing, 8th-grader, Tioga: Brady Worthing was  16-8 this season.

Jacob Welch, 8th-grader, Tioga: Welch was 13-14 this season.

Colby Sindoni, freshman, Sayre: Sindoni was 9-13 this season.

Nate Garrity, freshman, Sayre: Garrity was 9-12 this season.

David MacWhinnie, 8th-grader, Tioga: MacWhinnie was 12-12 on the season.

Zacceri Warner, sophomore, Tioga: Warner was 17-15 on the season.

Max Johnson, sophomore, Tioga: Johnson was 12-13 this season.

Trey Floyd, sophomore, Tioga: Floyd was  17-16 this season.

Kaden Rude, freshman, Athens:
Rude was 5-7 on the season.

——————

IN PHOTO: Athens’ Brian Courtney.

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