The pinnacle of high school wrestling in Pennsylvania is to get to Hershey.
Nine Somerset County wrestlers will depart today for Chocolate Town with hopes of returning home with a prized state medal.
The PIAA Wrestling Championships begin Thursday and continue Friday and Saturday at the Giant Center. Class AA action gets under way Thursday with the preliminary round at 9 a.m., followed by the first round of consolations at 12:30 p.m.
The county wrestlers who will be taking to the mats are Berlin's Braden Fochtman, Bryce Fochtman and Mitchell Walker, Conemaugh Township's Tanner Cahill and Taylor Cahill, Meyersdale's Collin Day and Gavin Berkley and Somerset's Landon Lohr and Jacob Nickelson.
All nine earned the right to wrestle in the state tournament by placing in the top five at last weekend's Southwest Regional.
Tanner Cahill led the way with a runner-up finish at 145 pounds. Taylor Cahill (152), Bryce Fochtman (160), Braden Fochtman (138) and Walker (220) each placed fourth while Day (126), Berkley (182), Lohr (160) and Nickelson (195) each finished fifth.
Only Day has experience competing in the state championships. He qualified last year as a junior, but did not place. The other eight county grapplers will be making their first appearances in the tournament.
Other District 5 wrestlers competing at states will be Bedford's Ryan Easter (120), Tanner Williams (152) and Caleb Grimes (170), Chestnut Ridge's Tyler Dibert (170), Dan Albright (195) and Austin Buttry (285) and Tussey Mountain's Mitchell Hall (285).
A look at the weight classes where the Somerset County wrestlers are entered:
138 Pounds — Sean Heggs, Juniata, SW-1, Sr., 37-4 vs. Jasper Hankey, Biglerville, SE-4, Jr., 39-7; Nick Heck, Wyoming Area, NE-3, Sr., 32-2 vs. Michael Bonner, Sharon, NW-2, Sr., 33-3; Seth Lansberry, Line Mountain, NE-2, Sr., 35-4 vs. Matt Humes, Saegertown, NW-3, Jr., 34-10; Nick Gavazzi, Charleroi, SW-5, Jr., 34-2 vs. Ryan Todora, Bethlehem Catholic, SE-1, Sr., 43-6; Brock Zacherl, Brookville, NW-1, Jr., 32-4 vs. Braden Fochtman, Berlin Brothersvalley, SW-4, Fr., 32-11; Tyler Shafer, Hanover, SE-3, Jr., 27-7 vs. Nicholas Naglic, Richland, SW-2, Jr., 30-7; Hunter Harner, Tri-Valley, SE-2, Soph., 35-10 vs. Steve Edwards, Burrell, SW-3, Jr., 40-7; Alex Gallaher, Camp Hills, SE-5, Soph., 29-14 vs. x-Zain Retherford, Benton, NE-1, Sr. 43-0.