Led by Ty Cymmerman’s dominant performance, Derry Area advanced four wrestlers during Tuesday’s WPIAL Class 2A sub-section 3B event at Southmoreland High School. A trio of Ligonier Valley competitors also moved on, highlighted by Ryan Harbert’s stellar performance.
In previous years, WPIAL individual sectionals included grapplers from both sub-sections. To limit the number of participants due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns, however, each subsection held its own round-robin tournament, with the top two performers from each weight class moving on to the traditional sectional format on Friday at Canon-McMillan High School.
Cymmerman, a three-time section and WPIAL champion, steamrolled the competition in the 145-pound bracket on Tuesday. He scored a pinfall in less than a minute against Ligonier Valley’s Ben Plowman, and then bested Mount Pleasant Area’s Conor Johnson via tech fall, 16-0, to secure first place.
“Conor knew his style, so he kind of stayed away from his cradle. But Ty just moved on to different moves and scored some points and teched him instead,” explained Derry Area head coach Mike Weinell.
Cymmerman has the opportunity to surpass 150 career wins during this upcoming weekend.
“He knows he needs to create the action and keep his feet moving, and just stay at his pace. If he does that, he can beat anybody,” Weinell said.
Derry Area produced another winner on Tuesday, albeit by much different circumstances. Senior Xavier Merlin took first place in the 120-pound bracket, as he was uncontested. Expected competitors from both Southmoreland and Elizabeth Forward were scratched, but Merlin still needed to make weight, something he was unable to do over the weekend.
“His battle was with the scale, and he won,” joked Weinell.
Sophomores Dylan Klim and Charles Banks also advanced, courtesy of second-place finishes. Klim lost his opening match at 106 to Mount Pleasant Area’s Joseph Longhi, but he scored a tech fall against Logan Clawiter of Southmoreland.
“The next match he bounced back and wrestled hard,” Weinell said of Klim’s response to his loss. “He just kept scoring points; that was good.”
Competing in a bracket of five at 126 pounds, Banks went 3-1, culminating with a 4-1 decision against Ligonier Valley’s Bruce Krieger in the final match of the night. That was a tightly contested battle that came down to the closing moments, as Banks scored all of his points in the final period.
“He made it closer than it needed to be, but he wrestled well. He did enough to get by,” Weinell stated.
Conversely, Ligonier Valley head coach Tom Brown lamented the outcome for his sophomore, calling it a winnable match.
“That last match there, you just got to want it,” he said. “It proved that (Banks) had a little bit more in it than we did. We got to get tougher; we got to get better.”
Four other Derry Area wrestlers saw their seasons come to a conclusion, as Nathan Barkley (189 pounds) and Eric Catone (172) finished third, Noah Cymmerman (285) took fourth, and Nick Reeping (138) came in fifth place.
Barkley, a freshman, had a chance to qualify in his final match against Southmoreland’s Ben Yeskey. Barkley built a 9-7 advantage and had Yeskey on his back at one point, but ultimately suffered a pinfall defeat.
“He just needs to clean up a little bit and seal the deal. When he has someone on their back, he has to finish them and pin them,” Weinell said of his freshman. “Our expectations are high for the next few years for him.”
While Reeping’s career came to an end, both Catone and Noah Cymmerman are expected to be key returners next year as seniors.
Weinell was pleased that half of his eight competitors moved on to Friday’s competition, but he thought that number could’ve been greater.
“Once we started wrestling, we were hoping to get five or six in, because I think we had a legit shot,” he said, also noting that a few wrestlers who had a chance to advance recently quit the team or suffered injuries that kept them out of the event.
Competing in the WPIAL for the first time, Ligonier Valley had three qualifiers out of nine participants on Tuesday. Junior Ryan Harbert led the way at 138 pounds, as he scored three pins and two tech falls en route to first place.
“That’s the kind of wrestler that he can be. He just had a really good night, and it was fun to watch,” explained Brown.
That performance was significant after a disappointing showing from Harbert at the Westmoreland County Wrestling Tournament earlier this month.
“I hope we’re back on track. I hope this is a sign of things to come,” Brown said of Harbert’s outlook heading into Friday’s sectionals.
Khorter Drury, a junior, also took first for the Rams in the 152-pound bracket. Drury scored a fall against Mount Pleasant Area’s Lucas Eicher, and then won an 8-4 decision against Austin Hunker of Southmoreland. While Drury had bested both opponents during the regular season, repeating the feat was significant nonetheless.
“To do it again in a tournament that means a little bit more is pretty exciting for him,” Brown noted. “It’s something that he can build on.”
Ligonier Valley’s other qualifier was sophomore Abe Mundorff, who was the runner up at 160. Southmoreland’s Bryson Robinson once again prevailed in the matchup, as the two have squared off several times this season, with Mundorff still searching for the elusive win.
Sophomore standout Josh Harbert failed to qualify at 113, a disappointing outcome according to Brown. Harbert finished in third place, with winner Damon Michaels of Elizabeth Forward surprisingly dropping down from 120 pounds.
In addition to a pinfall defeat against Michaels, Harbert dropped a bout against Yough’s Shane Momyer in his first match, an outcome that Brown said Harbert would like to have back.
Plowman, along with sophomores Nick Lonas (132) and Billy Sugden (215) all finished third in their respective classes, while another sophomore, McKinley Shearer, finished fifth at 189.
While most of his wrestlers saw their campaign come to a conclusion, Brown praised the performance of the youthful Rams.
“It’s never a question of effort. They wrestle the best they can with the ability they have,” he said. “A lot of guys introduced to the sport kind of see what the wrestling lifestyle is about; kind of see what their competition looks like.”
In addition to Longhi, Mount Pleasant Area’s winners included Greg Shaulis (126 pounds), Jamison Poklembo (132), Noah Gnibus (172), Dayton Pitzer (215), and Ian Fasano (285).