For Derry Area head coach Mike Weinell, it’s about who’s here and not who isn’t.
Yeah, it’s that time of the year — the start of individual competition. In WPIAL Class AA, that’s sections and districts on back-to-back days.
And, for one reason or another — meaning injuries and those deciding to leave the team — the Trojans are down to 15 wrestlers from 23 to start the season.
Those 15 wrestled off for spots at their respective weight classes, 10 of which will be filled — out of 14 — for the WPIAL Section 3-AA Tournament on Friday at Canon-McMillan High School.
Wrestling begins at 3 p.m. with the preliminary round followed by the quarterfinals, semifinals and first two rounds of consolations. Championship and consolation matches are set for 7 p.m. with the top four finishers in each weight class advancing to the WPIAL Class AA Championships, which actually begin Friday and conclude Saturday, also at Canon-McMillan.
At some point during the season, Derry Area lost five wrestlers to injury — Paul Kuhn (collarbone) at 152 pounds, Mike Kelly (shoulder) at 160, Pryce Donovan (shoulder) at 170, Dakota Beeman (knee) at 182 and Keith Rager (ankle) at 220 — and three others who elected to defect.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is, Brayden Mickinac will be back in the lineup at 195. He suffered a knee injury in the Blairsville Duals, the first event of the season for the Trojans way back at the beginning of December, but made his return last weekend in the Jenkins Memorial Duals at Penn State-Fayette and won all four matches he wrestled in.
“I am looking for Brayden to have a good section tournament,” Weinell stated. “We’ll see what he does in the WPIAL if he gets in.”
The top returning wrestler for DA is junior Ty Cymmerman (28-4), who is ranked No. 1 at 126 pounds in the Southwest Regional by PaPower Wrestling. Last year as a sophomore, he captured the section — for the second straight time — and WPIAL on his way to a fourth-place finish in the PIAA State Championships.
“He should win section and WPIAL titles again,” Weinell predicted.
“I have high expectations for him. He has a shot to win the entire thing this year.
“It won’t be easy, but Ty has the skills and the right mindset to do it. I’ve coached a few other guys who’ve won state titles, and Ty is no different.”
The lone senior for the Trojans is Colton McCallen. He will be at the 120-pound weight class.
“This is it for him,” Weinell noted. “He’s a senior and is no stranger to this tournament. If he wrestles to his ability, he can advance all the way to states.”
Weinell also mentioned at least four others he feels can make it out of the section tourney and into the WPIAL Championships. They are junior Nick Reeping (138) and sophomores Connor Lucas (145), Eric Catone (182) and Noah Cymmerman (285).
“All have a good shot to advance,” Weinell offered.
Derry Area’s remaining wrestlers for the section tournament are sophomore Tristan Fischer (106), freshman Alex Cole (113) and junior Xavier Merlin (132).
“If we can get five wrestlers to move on to the WPIAL on Saturday, then we had a good day,” Weinell expressed. “This has been a tough year with inexperience and injury, but we’ll see how the guys respond.”
After the section tournament on Friday will be the opening round of the WPIAL Class AA Championships at 9:30 p.m.
Wrestling resumes Saturday at 10 a.m. with the quarterfinals followed by the consolation first round at 11:15 a.m., semifinals and consy quarterfinals at 12:20 p.m., consolation semis at 2 p.m. and the Parade of Champions at 4:50 p.m. with the championship matches at 5 p.m.
The top seven finishers in each weight class from the district tourney qualify for the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Championships Feb. 21-22 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.