BETHLEHEM Sean Bianco isn't afraid of many things, unless spiders, snakes and darkness are in the equation. But when it comes to wrestling, the Pleasant Valley junior is fearless on the mat. Bianco illustrated that mentally fierce demeanor during Saturday's Northeast regional AAA finals when he wasted little time dispatching Strousburg's Guesseppe Rea in the 113-pound championship with a fall in 2:42.
Bianco is one of three Bears to advance from regionals to this week's PIAA championships in Hershey, as Kenny Yanovich (106) and Michael Dahlstrom (126) will also join the PV brigade.
Bianco (40-2), however, looked tremendous and aggressive throughout the entire regional tournament, as he gave up five points in three victories, two of which were 11-2 and 10-2 major decisions, before putting Rea straight to his back with a second period takedown that ultimately packed him away.
"It feels like I've been a lot more calm in big matches as the season has gone on," Bianco said. "I'm not going to hold back anything when I'm out at states."
Bianco opens Thursday's action at the Giant Center against Southeast regional third-place finisher Derek Gulotta (33-8) of Owen J. Roberts. If there is one wrestler that might worry Bianco, it's Council Rock South's Billy Rappo (38-2). Last year's state champion at 103-pounds, Rappo shares the upper part of this week's bracket with Bianco. If both win their first two bouts, they would meet in the semifinals.
But Bianco knows it's all about taking one match at a time, especially in Hershey.
"I just have to wrestle smart, stay on my feet and give my best effort," said Bianco. "This tournament is just like performing anywhere. I've wrestled in Reno before, so I'm not really worried about being nervous in front of big crowds."
Yanovich (41-5) settled for third place, beating Pittston senior Jamie Scarantino 6-3 for the final spot to Hershey. It was the second win over Scarantino for Yanovich during the tournament, as he knocked him off 9-4 in the quarterfinals, before losing to Nazareth's Tyrone Klump 5-0 in the semis.
He'll square off against Franklin Regional's top-seed Michael Kemerer (36-0) in his first bout in Hershey.
Michael Dahlstrom (42-5) reached the regional finals, but lost to Blue Mountain's defending state champion Corey Keener by a 6-4 decision.
"If I want to win myself a state title this weekend, I definitely have to beat him," said Dahlstrom of facing Keener. "I haven't wrestled him in awhile, so it's definitely a good thing to wrestle him a week before states. It's good to see where I'm at and this match showed me some things that I have to work on for this week."
Dahlstrom will open up against Nick Gibson (23-2) of McDowell and hopes that last year's experience in Hershey can bring him his first PIAA medal.
"I feel a lot more prepared heading into states this year," he said. "I got all my jitters out of the system last year and I'm ready to just get out there and get on the state podium."
The Bears finished fifth overall in the team standings with 67.5 points. Parkland (110) jumped Easton (104) for the team title.
106: Ethan Lizak (Parkland) major dec. Tyrone Klump (Nazareth) 16-5.
113: Sean Bianco (Pleasant Valley) pin Guesseppe Rea (Stroudsburg) 2:42.
120: Grimaldi Gonzalez (Liberty) major dec. Chase Zemenak (Nazareth) 10-2.
126: Corey Keener (Blue Mountain) dec. Michael Dahlstrom (Pleasant Valley) 6-4.
132: Devon Lotito (Liberty) dec. DeMarquis Holley (Dieruff) 8-4.
138: Jason Stephen (Northampton) dec. Josh Ortman (Parkland) 4-0.
145: Mitchell Minotti (Easton) def. Kyle Hankinson (Crestwood) 8-1.
152: Cole Sheptock (Northampton) tech. fall Bryson Berard (Parkland) 16-0.
160: Matt Bonshak (Whitehall) dec. Aaron Transue (Stroudsburg) 5-4.
170: Marc Wagner (Delaware Valley) dec. Nezar Haddad (Parkland) 4-3.
182: Tyler Greene (Easton) dec. Martin Strenk (Delaware Valley) 3-2.
195: David Wilke (Nazareth) dec. Francis Slover (Easton) 6-4 OT.
220: Aaron Bradley (Nazareth) dec. Evan Kauffman (Freedom) 5-1.
285: Brad Emerick (Coughlin) pin Chris Wesolowski (Pittston) 1:05.
106: Kenny Yanovich (Pleasant Valley) dec. Jamie Scarantino (Pittston) 6-3.
113: Zach Valley (Northampton) dec. TJ Tressler (Williamsport) 6-2.
120: Colby Ems (East Stroudsburg South) dec. Tom Hendry (West Scranton) 7-3.
126: CJ Palmer (Delaware Valley) dec. Jose Roche (Easton) 3-2.
132: Robbie Rizzolino (Easton) pin Cody Kievman (Blue Mountain) 4:59.
138: Matt Neff (Shikellamy) dec. Sage Karam (Nazareth) 4-3.
145: Ray Nicosia (Pocono Mountain East) dec. Michael Marano (Parkland) 6-0.
152: Michael Carr (Abington Heights) dec. Jake Young (Freedom) 4-2 OT.
160: Mark Granahan (Scranton) dec. Joseph Fogle (Pocono Mountain East) 7-1.
170: Mitch Myers (Blue Mountain) dec. Shawn Cicero (Pottsville) 4-3.
182: Travis Moyer (Blue Mountain) dec. Marcus Newsom (Northampton) 8-3.
195: Chad Hoffman (Hazleton) dec. Jovon Reyes (Dieruff) 3-1 OT.
220: Shaun Heist (Parkland) major dec. Jack Fagan (Delaware Valley) 11-0.
285: Tyler Peerson (Freedom) dec. Brandon Lance (Nazareth) 3-1.