KINGSTON — The goals for the Wyoming Seminary wrestling team always stay the same: win a national championship.
After coming up short of the ultimate goal last season, the Blue Knights are loaded again this year, and may be even stronger than two years ago when they claimed the Prep National Championship.
Sem opened its season on Saturday at home with its Sem Duals then capped the long day migrating across the street where 10 wrestlers made their Division I college choices official.
“Today was such a good day because we got to kickoff our season and…be as successful as we were as a team today then come and talk about this (10 wrestlers signing with Division I colleges) it’s really rewarding for me as a coach to see this many guys continue on,” Blue Knights coach Scott Green said.
The most notable of those 10 grapplers are Sweet Valley resident Aaron Kliamovich (132 pounds), who will be heading to Northern Michigan University, and Mason Manville (152), who will be staying in-state and wrestling with national powerhouse Penn State and Cael Sanderson.
Will Hilliard (220) and Will Verallis (160), both to Old Dominion; Christian Dietrich (195, University of Pittsburgh), Greg Kleinsmith (170, Kutztown), Trent Olson (132, Wyoming), Nick Reenan (182, Northwestern), Mike Rogers (220, North Carolina State) and Chris Weiler (170, Lehigh).
“These kids have been together, most of them, for three or four years,” Green said. “For them to achieve this goal we have set for them is a nice reward for them.”
Kliamovich, who started his wrestling career as a youth for Dallas elementary under coach Jerry Ogurkis and spent his first two high school seasons with the Mountaineers, chose Northern Michigan because of its ties to the United States Olympic Team. With a strong connection by coach Rob Hermann to the U.S. team and strong possibilities of International wrestling, Kliamovich could have a dream come true wrestling on the U.S. Olympic Team in 2020.
“Since I was younger I wanted to go to the Olympics and be a world champion and I wanted to go and win an NCAA Division I championship,” Kliamovich said. “So after hearing that the coaches have such high hopes for that I felt like I had no other choice but to follow my dream and go there.”
Manville, who wrestled for Sem’s rival Blair Academy for a portion of last season but didn’t finish with the Bucs, won a National Prep title in 2014 and followed that with a world championship at the Cadet World Freestyle Championships the following summer. He joined Wyoming Seminary for the current school year and says being at the Kingston school will help him in more ways than one to prepare for Penn State.
“I think this gets me ready for the academic portion as well as I think this will really help my wrestling,” Manville said. “This will get me to a new level under coach Green.”
Manville gave his verbal commitment to Sanderson a little more than a year ago, and still has contact with the coach frequently and projects as a 165-pounder with the Nittany Lions, who won four straight NCAA national championships before taking fifth last season. PSU has reloaded and is once again ranked as the No. 1 team in the country this season.
“I know excellence is going to be demanded from me when it comes to Cael, (and assistant coaches) Casey (Cunningham) and Cody (Sanderson). I know they want what’s best for me and they want the best out of me,” Manville said. “I just know that I’m going to have to give every bit of myself in the room and on the mat everyday.”
Earlier in the day on Saturday, the Blue Knights dominated their home event shutting out St. Anthony’s 70-0 before topping reigning District 2 Class 3A Duals champion Scranton, 62-11 and ending the day with a 40-12 win over Malvern Prep in a battle of nationally-ranked teams. The second-ranked Blue Knights, according to Intermat, had no problem with either team and lost just three contested matches all day. One came against Scranton when Andrew Burgette won via tech fall at 170. Then against 26th-ranked Malvern Prep, the Knights lost two bouts.
While several wrestlers went 3-0 on the day, Manville had the most dominant afternoon for Sem winning with a pair of easy technical falls and a pin in 15 seconds.
A pair of local youngsters, Jack Davis from Hanover, and Michael Doggett from the Back Mountain, also picked up big wins for the Blue Knights. In one of the most entertaining bouts in the entire event, Davis a sophomore, topped Scranton’s Will Evanitsky 6-5 in double overtime picking up two back points in the 120-pound bout.
Doggett, a freshman, picked up a big win against Malvern’s Flynn Leaf picking up two late points to notch the victory.
“When I came here six years ago one of things I stated I wanted to do was raise the level of wrestling in the valley in general through inviting local teams to our competitions today and starting the X-Calibur and starting a club that really has taken off,” Green said. “Jack and Michael are maybe the first guys who have come up through that program and have gotten here ready to perform right away.”
Sem returns to action next weekend at the Ironman Tournament before returning to the area for its X-Calibur Tournament on Dec. 18-19 at Wilkes University.
Picking up from last season
Tunkhannock and Hazleton Area, two of the three Wyoming Valley Conference Division I co-champions from last season, started their campaigns this weekend looking as strong as they did a season ago.
The Tigers had an impressive showing at the Wyalusing Duals winning all five matches at the events, including topping the host Rams, 37-31 in the finals. Leading the way were freshman Tommy Traver and senior Bill Manley, who went 5-0. Mike Manley, Sam Rice and Ricky Stevens all notched four wins.
The Cougars finished third at the prestigious Top Hat Tournament in Williamsport. With 152.5 points, the Cougars finished behind team champion Jersey Shore (201) and runner-up Central Mountain (181). The Cougars produced a runner-up with Jimmy Hoffman, and three third-place medalists in Jake Maurer, Anthony Martoccio and Steve Longazel.
Brian Bealer Memorial Duals
Dallas finished 1-4 at the tournament at Boyertown High School finishing in ninth place. The Mountaineers received 5-0 performances from freshman Steven Newell senior Cole Dixon.
Meyers finished eighth out of 20 teams at the tournament held at Bloomsburg High School crowning one champion as Colin Pasone claimed the 120-pound gold. The Mohawks also had a third-place finisher with Kevin Huertero at 126, and a pair of fourth-place finishers in Caden Strobel (106) and Jeremy Bergold (152).
Hanover Area dressed a pair of runner-ups in Jeff Bennett (120) and Noah Rakowski (152), while Berwick’s Matt Maczuga (160) also took fourth. The Hawkeyes finished 12th in the team standings, while the Bulldogs took 14th and GAR was 20th.