Kenny Yanovich may just be a freshman, but he carries the confidence and demeanor of a senior. Yanovich was the highlight from Pleasant Valley's opening day at the Northeast Regional 3A tournament at Freedom High School.
The 103-pounder dominated Colby Ems of East Stroudsburg South during the preliminaries with a 6-0 win and then controlled most of his quarterfinal bout against Pittston's Jamie Scaratino before holding him off 6-4.
Scaratino (30-6) had an opening round bye, but couldn't shake off two Yanovich (33-8) takedowns thirty-six seconds into the first period, as the PV grappler built a quick 4-1 lead that couldn't be toppled.
Yanovich is joined by teammate Mike Dahlstrom (130) in this morning's semifinal round, after Dahlstrom (39-4) picked up a 2-0 win over Shikellamy's Landry Badman (24-9).
It was a promising start for the Bears hopes of advancing competitors to Hershey, which is what Yanovich is all about.
"My only goal is to get to states," said Yanovich. "There's no point to fear anybody. Anyone can be beaten on any given day and that's the way I approach my matches. I'm just happy that I'm only one win away from making states."
Yanovich dominated the lankier Scaratino in the first two periods, but after riding him the entire second period with a 6-2 lead, Scaratino scored two back points late in the third to pull within 6-4.
Yanovich held off two more tilts to hold on to the win, but he'll face Parkland's Ethan Lizak (28-9), who stormed his way through his first two bouts against District 2 and 4 opponents with 16-0 and 16-1 technical falls.
Dahlstrom used a third period reversal to earn the only points of his bout. Now, he gets the task of taking on Nazareth's Zach Horan (44-0).
"Yeah, that's definitely going to be a tough match," Dahlstrom said. "I just want to make it to Hershey and I'll do everything I can to get there."
Dahlstrom's task might seem tall for him to knock off an undefeated Horan, but all he has to do is look at teammate Ernie Klingel (125) to prove that he has a shot.
Klingel (33-8) was a heavy underdog heading into his quarterfinal bout with Nazareth's top-seed Franco Ferraina (29-3), but narrowly had the biggest upset of the tournament.
Trailing 3-2 in the third period, Klingel took advantage of Ferraina losing his balance and falling near the edge of the mat. He grabbed both legs before Ferraina was out of bounds for a stunning takedown with twenty-nine seconds left in the period.
However, Ferraina squeaked out a reversal with 13 seconds left to pull out a 5-4 victory.
"Anyone can have a bad day and Ernie showed that we can beat some of these top guys," Dahlstrom said. "I just have to go out and wrestle my best."
Sean Bianco (112) lost his opening bout by fall in 5:39 to Nazareth's Chase Zemenak.
Alex Yanovich had a rough start to the tournament as well, as he got tech-falled by a 15-0 affair to Selinsgrove's Cody Zechman.