Mueller heads to Hershey in search of State medal 182-Pound Class
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
One of the toughest things to do in high school athletics is to win a medal at the PIAA State Wrestling Tournament. But that’s exactly what Cocalico’s Kam Mueller will attempt to do this weekend when the Eagle senior heads to the Giant Center in Hershey for the big tourney.
Mueller, who qualified for States for the first time in his high school career two weeks ago after placing second at the District Three Tourney, faces a difficult task in what appears to be a loaded 182-pound weight class. However, he has hit his stride in recent weeks leaving Cocalico Head Coach Matt Fittery confident his senior can do some damage this weekend.
"The way Kam has been wrestling, I really think he can bring home a medal," Fittery said Monday afternoon. "I would not have said that at the beginning of the year, but now I really believe he can place. Kam has been wrestling really well at practices this last week and he is definitely peaking at the right time. He has improved tremendously since the beginning of the year."
Mueller will open the tournament Thursday afternoon with a first-round match-up vs. North Allegheny senior Jarred Lux, the second-place finisher from the South West Region.
Lux comes in with a record of 40-2 out of what is considered one of the toughest regions in the State. He is currently ranked third in the state at 182 (Mueller is 15th) in the latest rankings by PA Power Rankings. His lone two losses on the season came to second-ranked Khlique Harris of Erie McDowell, 8-5, in the first round of the PIAA Team Championships, and to the State’s top-ranked wrestler Matt McCutcheon of Kiski Area (6-4 in overtime) in the finals of the WPIAL championships this past week.
Asked how much he knows about Mueller’s first-round opponent, Fittery said, " I don’t know much about (him), but at this level everyone is tough and that includes Kam. At this point, I think we need to mainly focus on Kam wrestling his style no matter who his opponent is."
A win over Lux would probably earn him a quarterfinal bout against Harris (35-2), who as the North West Regional champ drew South East fourth seed Dalton Fleming (27-7) of Upper Perkiomen.
Other notables in the top half of the bracket are: Tyler Greene of Easton (35-6) and unbeaten Central Bucks West senior Chris Jastrzebski (34-0). McCutcheon (37-1) is perhaps the biggest obstacle in the bottom half, along with John Thomson of Mechanicsburg (34-4), who pinned Mueller in the finals of Districts.
Despite the heavy competition, Fittery believes Mueller can have success if he relies on the confidence he built during the latter half of the season.
"The biggest thing now, for any wrestler, is to make sure you enter the tournament with the right attitude," he said. "You can’t be happy just to be there. You have to want that medal, and you have to be confident in your ability to get it. Kam has had a really good attitude lately, so I hope that continues through the weekend."
Action is set to begin Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Giant Center. Friday’s session runs from 1:30-3:15 p.m. while Saturday’s semifinals are set for 9 a.m. That session will go until approximately 1 p.m., setting up the finals, plus third, fifth and seventh place matches at 7 p.m. Below are the first-round pairings for the AAA 182-pound weight class at the 2011-12 PIAA Wrestling Championships. The tournament will be held Thursday through Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey. (Wrestler, school, regional finish, class, record; "x" denotes returning champion):
Tyler Greene, Easton, NE-1, Jr., 35-6 vs. Kyle Spangler, Hempfield (Dist. 7), SW-3, Sr., 37-5; Chris Jastrzebski, Central Bucks West, SE-1, Sr., 34-0 vs. Blaze Buckwalter, Central Mountain, NW-3, Jr., 33-9; Khlique Harris, Erie McDowell, NW-1, Sr., 35-2 vs. Dalton Fleming, Upper Perkiomen, SE-4, Sr., 27-7; Kam Mueller, Cocalico, SC-2, Sr., 37-5 vs. Jarred Lux, North Allegheny, SW-2, Sr., 40-2.
Josh Thomson, Mechanicsburg, SC-1, Sr., 34-4 vs. Travis Moyer, Blue Mountain, NE-3, Sr., 14-4; Ryan Burnheimer, Westmont Hilltop, NW-2, Sr., 29-4 vs. Tyler Wood, West Chester Rustin, SE-2, Sr., 36-6; Matt McCutcheon, Kiski Area, SW-1, Jr., 37-1 vs. Tyler Letrinko, Norristown, SE-3, Sr., 27-8; Martin Strenk, Delaware Valley, NE-2, Jr., 42-8 vs. Danny Hockensmith, Big Spring, SC-3, Jr., 30-8. More MUELLER, page B-4