|VALLEY SPORTS REPORT: ATHENS' BURKHART GETS NOD AS "WRESTLER OF YEAR" — ATHENS' POARCH, TIOGA'S HARRINGTON, WAVERLY'S LaFOREST ALSO EARN TOP HONORS (2018-03-21)
Valley Sports Report
THE VALLEY — It was a historic season for Valley wrestling with 12 grapplers qualifying for States, and five earning medals.
Athens senior A.J. Burkhart made his fourth trip to States — two in New York and two in Pa. — and won his third medal to earn the title of Valley Sports Report 2017-18 “Wrestler of the Year.”
Burkhart, who won a state title as a freshman and finished sixth as a sophomore in New York State, finished fifth at the PIAA Championships earlier this month.
Burkhart finished his senior season with a 38-7 record, winning North Section, District 4, and Northeast Region titles in the process. He was 76-15 in two years at Athens, and compiled a career mark of 186-28.
Burkhart is a five-five Super 7 selection, and was "Wrestler of the Year" in 2014-15.
Athens freshman Bailey Poarch racked up a 17-14 record in his first varsity season to earn “Newcomer of the Year” honors. He finished second at the North Section Tournament, losing in the finals to eventual fourth-place PIAA finisher Sheldon Seymour of Troy. He was sixth at Districts.
Also deserving recognition for their initial seasons on varsity are Waverly 8th-grader Garrett Skeens (22-11) and Tioga 7th-grader Emily Sindoni (20-14).
The Tioga Tigers advanced to the semifinals of the inaugural New York State Division 2 Dual Championships, repeated as Section IV champs, advanced six wrestlers to the New York State Championships, and placed fourth as a team at States to earn second-year coach Kris Harrington the nod as “Coach of the Year.”
As a freshman, Waverly’s Rylan LaForest was 11-18, but 10 of those wins were via forfeit. This season, LaForest was 21-21 with just four wins coming via forfeit, to earn the “Most Improved Wrestler” honor. He was third at IACs, and lost in the “blood round” at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships.
The 2017-18 “Super 7” Wrestlers:
A.J. Burkhart, senior, Athens: See above.
Brady Worthing, sophomore, Tioga: Brady Worthing won a New York State silver medal at 120 pounds, dropping a 3-2 decision to unbeaten defending state champ junior Trent Svingala, who is headed to Cornell. It was the only decision all season Svingala won by less than three points, and only the third time all season he allowed as many as two points in a match.
Brady Worthing finished the season with a 43-9 record, with titles at the IAC Championships, and Class B Championships, and a runner-up finish at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships. He advanced to States with a wild card invitation, and is 91-28 for his career.
Nate Bradley, senior, Athens: Nate Bradley capped a brilliant career for the Wildcats with a seventh-place finish at 160 pounds at the PIAA Championships.
Bradley finished second to defending state champion Creighton Edsell of Wyalusing at the North Section Tournament, then finished third at Districts and Regionals in the loaded 160-pound weight class.
Bradley, a three-time state qualifier. graduates with a 113-42 record, which puts him 15th all-time on the wins list for the storied Athens program.
John Worthing, junior, Tioga: Two-time New York State place-winner John Worthing was the top seed at 113 pounds following a 40-2 campaign, but was forced to withdraw due to mononucleosis and an enflamed spleen. He owned wins over both of the eventual state finalists.
John Worthing won an IAC title and was runner-up at the Class B Championships, a loss he avenged to win Section IV gold — his third Section IV title.
John Worthing, who has second- and third-place finishes at State to his credit, is 167-29 in his career.
Austin Lamb, junior, Tioga: Lamb won a fifth-place medal at the New York State championships, pinning BGAH’s Ben Bivar to earn a bit of redemption for a loss in the Section IV, Division 2 title match.
Lamb, who finished sixth at States last year, won the IAC and Class B Championships en route to a 46-6 record this season. He is 161-44 for his career.
Chris Horton, senior, Athens: Horton wrapped up a stellar four-year varsity career with his first trip to the PIAA Championships, wrestling his way there through a rugged 132-pound weight class at the District 4, and Northeast Regional Championships.
Horton won North Section title, then finished third at Districts, and fourth at Regionals. He was 0-2 at States.
Horton was 33-9 on the season to finish his career with a 110-46 record, which puts him 18th on the program’s all-time win list.
Bryant Sexton, senior, SVEC: A Section IV champ as a junior, Sexton was a runner-up this season, and earned a wild card to the New York State Division 2 Championships. He also placed second at IACs, and second at Class B Championships.
Sexton went 2-2 at States, losing in the “blood round,” to finish his season at 34-9. He will graduate with a school record 161 wins.
The Second Seven
Stephen Taylor, junior, Tioga: Last year’s “Most Improved Wrestler,” Taylor took the next step this year with a third-place finish at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships, and earned a wild card invite to the New York State Championships, where he placed sixth.
Taylor also finished third at the IAC Championships, and the Class B Championships on his way to a 38-14 record for the season. He is 79-51 for his career.
Grady Alpert, senior, SVEC: Alpert capped a stellar five-year varsity career with his first Section IV title, and first trip to the New York State Championships.
Alpert also won titles at the IAC and Class B Championships on his way to a 36-7 season. He wrapped up his career with 150 wins.
Trey Floyd, senior, Tioga: Floyd finished second at 195 pounds at the Section IV Championships, and earned a wild card to make his first trip to the New York State Championships.
Floyd, who finished second at the IAC Championships and won the Class B title, was 2-2 at States, losing in the “blood round.” He finished the season 35-8 and with a career mark of 88-47.
David Galasso, junior, Athens: A year after missing the postseason after sustaining a hand injury prior to the North Section Tournament, Galasso put together a stellar run to earn his first trip to the PIAA Championships.
Galasso finished second at the North Section Tournament, third at the District 4 Championships, and fourth at Northeast Regionals. He was 1-2 at States, losing in the quarterfinals to eventual state champ Edmond Ruth.
Galasso finished his season at 30-14, and is now 62-34 in his career.
Max Johnson, senior, Tioga: Johnson battled through injuries during his senior season to win his first Section IV title, and make his first appearance at the New York State Championships.
Johnson, who finished second at the IAC and Class B Championships, finished the season with a 28-5 record. He posted a career mark of 103-85.
Jacob Welch, sophomore, Tioga: Welch won an IAC title at 106 pounds, and was 28-4 on the season with all four losses coming at 113 pounds. He is 69-20 for his career.
Ethan Stotler, sophomore, Waverly: Stotler highlighted his sophomore season with a gold medal at the Class B Championships, then followed it up with a third-place finish at the Section IV, Division 2 Championships.
Stotler, who was also third at the IAC Championships, finished the season with a 31-14 record, and sports a 98-46 career mark.
Wrestlers to watch in 2018-19:
Guys like SVEC junior Mark Mullen, and freshman Parker Sexton, as well as Tioga 8th-graders Emmett Wood (36-12) and Mason Welch (34-14), and sophomore David MacWhinnie (31-9) will vie for trips to Albany next February, but there are several other Valley grapplers who may not qualify for States, but could make an impact.
When you see a few of these wrestler's records, keep in mind that Tioga's John Worthing was 10-13 as a 7th-grader, then 35-6 as an 8th-grader, and 35-5 and state runner-up as a freshman.
Devin Beach, 8th-grader, SVEC: Just an 8th-grader, Beach acquitted himself quite well during a 12-16 campaign.
Gavin Bradley, 8th-grader, Athens: There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the youngsters on the Athens junior high team, led by Bradley, who has been termed “a beast” by several Valley experts.
Hunter Cleveland, freshman, SVEC: Cleveland finished fourth at the IAC and Class B Championships, and fifth at the Section IV Championships in a rugged 113-pound weight class that included Tioga’s John Worthing and David MacWhinnie. He ended the season with a 23-20 record.
Mandell Davis, junior, SVEC: A first-year wrestler after playing basketball, the athletic Davis posted a 14-20 record at 220 pounds. He finished second at the Class B Championships, and fourth at the IACs.
Brodrick Hill, freshman, Tioga: Hill took some lumps this season during an 11-23 freshman campaign, but it was against a very rugged schedule, which is only going to make him better.
Kyle Jelliff, junior, SVEC: Jelliff put together a 20-6 record before injuries ended his season in mid-January.
Austin Kimble, freshman, Waverly: Kimble finished fifth at the Class B Championships, and went 1-2 in his first appearance at the Section IV Championships. He was 12-27 on the season.
Alex Morse, sophomore, SVEC: Morse posted 25 wins this season, and finished third at the IAC Championships, and fourth at the Class B Championships. He was 1-2 at the Section IV Championships.
Karter Rude, 8th-grader, Athens: Like Bradley, Rude will likely be a mainstay for the Wildcats for four years.
Kyler Setzer, freshman, Athens: Forced to wrestle up at 113 pounds, despite weighing 20-plus pounds less than that, Setzer will be one to keep an eye on if he can pack on some pounds, and get into the line-up at 106 next year.
Emily Sindoni, 7th-grader, Tioga: Sindoni opened some eyes this season with her 20-14 season, which included 12 pins. She finished fourth at IACs at 99 pounds, and sixth at the Class B Championships, wrestling up at 106. If she stays at 99 pounds, watch out.
Garrett Skeens, 8th-grader, Waverly: The 8th-grade powerhouse fashioned a 22-11 season, which included a second-place finish at the IAC Championships. Skeens lost his first match at the Class B Championships, then was forced to bow out due to illness.
Zach Warner, junior, Tioga: Warner improved as the season progressed, finishing with a 22-16 record, and a sixth-place finish at the Section IV Championships. He was second at the IAC and Class B Championships — losing both to SVEC senior and state qualifier Grady Alpert.
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