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HIGH SCHOOL PREVIEW FOR DECEMBER 15: Now it’s the Beast of the East’s turn

By Rob Sherrill, W.I.N. High School Editor

What? Blair Academy has something to prove?

That's the story as the second December mega-tournament, the Beast of the East, takes place tomorrow (Dec. 16) and Sunday at Newark, Del.

After being knocked off the top of the mountain by Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward High at the Ironman in Ohio last weekend, the Bucs likely will do it, but they'll face tough competition from Pennsylvania powers Nazareth High, Pennsburg Upper Perkiomen High, Mechanicsburg Cumberland Valley High, Wingate Bald Eagle Area High, Greenville H.A. Reynolds High and tournament-tough Lewistown High … as well as Virginia's twin towers, Christiansburg High and Chesapeake Great Bridge High, Dallas (Texas) Bishop Lynch High (its stable of stars), fast-developing Tulsa (Okla.) Union High, Catoosa (Okla.) High and Florida powerhouse Oviedo High.

In a tournament like this, four place-winners can seal a Top-10 finish, so all the schools mentioned above have a shot. And don't forget the host state's Big Two: Camden Wyoming Caesar Rodney High and Wilmington St. Mark's High.

The weight class to watch: 140 pounds, which includes W.I.N.'s top five … yes, the top five. Read all about it below. Best of the rest: 119 through 130 and 145 through 189.

With that as our backdrop, we've put together a preview of this year's Beast of the East.

103: What a difference a week makes. Perhaps the toughest weight class - at least at the top - at the Ironman, this is probably the weakest weight class here. St. Mark's freshman Sean Dolan gives the host state one of its best chances to take home a title.

112: This is more like it. Blair freshman Chris Villalonga and Broadview Heights (Ohio) Brecksville High's Kyle Lang were impressive at the Ironman and, along with Virginia Beach (Va.) Floyd E. Kellam's Eric Olanowski and Lewistown's Matt Snyder, could make for very interesting semifinals. North Carolina state champion Corey Mock of Chapel Hill High, Reynolds' Cody Kelly and Bishop Lynch's Troy Silver add spice to the mix.

119: Wow…what a weight. Three Ironman place-winners - champion Chris Sheetz of Upper Perkiomen, Andrew Williams of Yorktown (Va.) Tabb High and Luis Burgos of Caesar Rodney - are here. But all three are cast in the spoiler's role, with an incredible final looming between two-time Delaware champion Connor McDonald of Georgetown Sussex Central High and New Jersey champion Frank Perrelli of Morristown Delbarton High. Double Junior National runner-up Fred Santaite of Allendale (N.J.) Northern Highlands High apparently has put on enough of a growth spurt to impress college coaches. New Hampshire aces Aaron Kalil of Salem High and Joey O'Connor of Plaistow Timberlane High, the New England champions at 112 and 103 last year, are at the same weight this time around and Blair's Garrett Frey also could make an impact.

125: Think 119, but with even more strength at the top. Blair's Anthony Valles, Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph High's John Trumbetti, Dillsburg (Pa.) Northern High's Jason DeLuca, Lewistown's Matt Bonson, Bear Caravel Academy's Jarrod Garnett and Hightstown (N.J.) Peddie School's Dan White all are highly-ranked by W.I.N. and dangerous and will make the weight incredible from the quarterfinals on. Don't be surprised if Grafton (Va.) High;s Denny Grafton, Oviedo's Justin Tortora, Washington (Pa.) Trinity High's Grant Lowther or Salem's Trevor Dearden wind up in the medals, either.

130: A freshman as the favorite? Unthinkable with Blair's runaway Ironman champion Kellen Russell here. But if Catoosa's Ben Morgan, fresh off a technical fall tournament win over a Class 5A senior two-time state champion back home, does it, you read it here first. Pencil Middletown (Pa.) High's Tyler Nauman and three-time Virginia champion Collin Dozier of Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox high into the semifinals as well. Great Bridge's Derek Gillespie and Upper Perkiomen's Shane Smith were in the Ironman mix and Nazareth's Bobby Ward and Lewistown's Mike Robinson have prominent Beast histories, too.

135: Blair's Max Shanaman was the Ironman champion and Caesar Rodney's Chris Diaz finished third. Are they alone at the top? Not with Delbarton's Trevor Melde, a Junior National placewinner, lurking. He could give Diaz a great semifinal run. Upper Perkiomen's Ryan Kemmerer and two-time West Virginia champion Dustin Haislip of Inwood Musselman High are others to watch.

140: Close your eyes and think of semifinals with the likes of Ironman champion Mario Mason of Blair, Ironman semifinalist Zack Kemmerer of Upper Perkiomen, Tulsa Union's Jamal Parks and Bishop Lynch's Luke Silver … yes, the top four in the nation at that weight. Who wouldn't like to see a finals rematch between future Oklahoma State teammates Silver and Parks, when Silver won 3-2 to nab OW honors at the Tulsa Union Tournament? While we're at it, why not throw in St. Mark's Tommy Abbott and make it the top five?

145: One would think that Ironman champion Alex Meade of Caesar Rodney should win this weight class easily, but this is the Beast of the East and this is another loaded weight class. A pair of top-five wrestlers, Tulsa Union's Seth Vernon and Manahawkin (N.J.) Southern High's Frank Molinaro, will fight it out in a semifinal for the ages. Making the quarterfinals great will be Great Bridge's Junior Pearman, Bald Eagle Area's Grant Paswall, Catoosa's Dallas Bailey, Oviedo's Tyler Davis and Bow (N.H.) High's D.J. Meagher, the New England champion who enters this tournament on a mission. Oakhurst (N.J.) Ocean Township High's Frank Menditto, Bishop Lynch's Justin Armstrong Reynolds' Aaron Nestor and Newville (Pa.) Big Spring High's Mallie Shuster could sneak into the medals as well.

152: Blair's Eric Medina wasn't pushed at the Ironman, but he will be here. Nazareth's Tim Darling is a worthy second seed and Bishop Lynch's Johnny Koepp could be there waiting in the semifinals. If he's up to the rigors of a weight class this high, North Andover (Mass.) Brooks School's Sean Bilodeau will be a factor and Great Bridge's Jared King. Don't forget two-time Ironman placewinner Sam Rakes of Christiansburg, Tulsa Union's Joey Sheridan and Southern's Luke Lanno.

160: At first glance, this weight doesn't appear very strong. But once you see Caravel's Luke Rebertus, Nazareth's Thad Frick, Oviedo's Brandon Hatchett, Bald Eagle Area's Quentin Wright and Kennesaw Ga.) Carl Harrison High's Josh Condon - all nationally ranked - in the bracket, it's tougher than it looks, at least at the top. Darkhorses: Southern's Keith Dillard, Ocean Township's Joey Falco and Timberlane's Ty Sullivan.

171: Here's a deep weight class without a clear favorite. Throw Oviedo's Jesse Robbins, Reynolds' Lawrence Beckman, Ocean Township's Kyle Kiss, two-time Utah champion Mitch Sanderson of Pleasant Grove High, Blair's Corey Peltier, Great Bridge's Tim Hill, Caravel's Vinnie Ranauto, Timberlane's Derek Sickel, Iselin (N.J.) John F. Kennedy High's Pete Simon and Boyertown (Pa.) High's Jesse DeWan into a hat. The first eight names you pull could be the order of finish. So could the second…and the third. Whatever you draw, sit back and enjoy.

189: The "Who's No. 1?" question affects this weight class as well. You'd think the final would be Dover High's Jamelle Jones - a local once again - and Great Bridge's Scott Cust, who showed at the Ironman that moving up two weights didn't bother him in the least. But don't tell that to Baltimore (Md.) Mount St. Joseph High's Jake Bohn, Connellsville (Pa.) High's Zack Benzio, Ocean Township's Jeff Siciliano, three-time South Carolina champion J.C. Oddo of Taylors Eastside High, Northampton (Pa.) High's Justin Wieller, Oviedo's Anthony Salerno or Nazareth's David Crowell. This weight is there for the taking for them as well.

215: Cody Gardner (Christiansburg) vs. Jared Platt (Blair), Round 2. At this weight, it won't matter who knows. Youngstown (Ohio) Boardman High's Justin Powell could give Platt a run in the semifinals. Cumberland Valley's Derrick Hockensmith has a chance to score an upset.

285: Maybe a little better than 103…maybe not. Our pick: Woodberry Forest (Va.) School's Jake Marcey against Nazareth's Mike Mutch.

Predicting the team race …

The formula we though would win it for Blair at the Ironman will have to win it again this time around. The Bucs aren't as likely to have as many finalists, but only Bishop Lynch probably has enough finalist firepower, and that's a tall order without Luke Ashmore in the lineup. Pearman's return will be a boost for Great Bridge. We love the balance of Christiansburg, Caesar Rodney, Nazareth, Cumberland Valley, Southern and Ocean Township and Tulsa Union, Catoosa, Upper Perkiomen and Lewistown have the individuals to take a Top 10 run a long way.

Our top 15:
1. Blair Academy, 208
2. Nazareth, 172.5
3. Bishop Lynch, 148.5
4. Great Bridge, 134
5. Christiansburg, 133.5
6. Southern, 123
7. Caesar Rodney, 121.5
8. Ocean Township, 113
9. Cumberland Valley, 109
10. Upper Perkiomen, 105.5
11. Tulsa Union, 104.5
12. Lewistown, 99
13. Oviedo, 98.5
14. Bald Eagle Area, 91
15. Catoosa, 90

For more W.I.N. high school coverage, go to:

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