Four Bears in semis
don herb/times news Ernest Klingel of Pleasant Valley (top) decisioned Amir Blair of Pocono Mountain West.
BETHLEHEM - Kenny Yanovich didn't waste much time on the mats Friday night during the opening rounds of the District 11 3A wrestling tournament at Liberty's Memorial Gymnasium. For a freshman 103-pounder, Yanovich looked like a veteran, pinning Southern Lehigh's Cole Ruppel and Whitehall's Freddie Agou in his two bouts to easily move onto the semifinals.
But as Yanovich packed away Agou in the first period of his quarterfinal bout, he quickly gathered his belongings and ran to the adjacent mat.
That's where he watched his semifinal opponent, Liberty's Brett Marino, defeat Easton's Kyle Baker as he got a first-hand scouting report of his next hurdle towards a coveted district championship.
"I really like to watch the guy I'm going to wrestle next so I can prepare for what's ahead of me," said Yanovich, who will bring his 31-5 record against Marino (30-3), who as a senior is the state's top ranked 103-pounder. "I see that he's good on top and when in neutral, he's taking straight shots. He's not really working many angles.
"I just need to get a lot of takedowns and not get stuck on bottom."
Yanovich was the first of four of Pleasant Valley wrestlers to move onto today's semifinal round, as he's joined by Ernie Klingel (125), Mike Dahlstrom (130) and Alex Yanovich (140).
Klingel (31-5) may have came away from day one as the biggest winner out of PV's contingent, as he knocked off Parkland's Mike Fake 12-7.
Fake put Klingel on his back in the first 30 seconds of the bout, but Klingel battled back with a tilt of his own to end the first period ahead 5-4. He then scored three takedowns in the final two periods en route to holding off the one time-state qualifier.
With Fake (16-5) coming in as the fourth seed and Klingel as the fifth seed, it was considered a minor upset by head coach Mark Getz, but Klingel was just happy of the way he fought back after a rough start.
"I got caught and I should have known that was coming, but I bounced back and wrestled hard," said Klingel. "It was a tough match. He's been to states before and it just feels good to move on. I know things aren't going to get any easier against Franco."
That Franco that Klingel is referring to is top-seed Franco Ferraina from Nazareth, who he'll get to meet in the semifinals.
Dahlstrom and the elder Yanovich also face tough bouts, as Dahlstrom will take on second-seed Brandon Choate from Blue Mountain, while Yanovich faces off with top-seed Mitchell Minotti of Easton.
Getz was happy to send four wrestlers into the semifinals for the fourth consecutive year, but he also knows that all four of his wrestlers are considered underdogs heading into the round.
"I think our kids understand that we don't have fear against any of the LVC teams," he said. "I don't think this [districts] is a black hole anymore because we come down here to win and do well.
"At the same time, there are no easy bouts. All of these guys are in the top six right now and they all know they're moving on to regionals, so there really is no fear.
"We don't have any returning state qualifiers on this team, so these guys can now go make a name for themselves."
Three other Bears went down in the quarters as Sean Bianco (112), James Felipa (119) and Hunter Deihl (189) all lost and will be in the consolation round earlier in the day.