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PIAA Wrestling: Family legacy gives Hunter Delaney his turn in Hershey

Growing up in West Chester, the Delaney brothers played so hard their father built them a wrestling room to save the furniture. You can just imagine what the upholstery looked like from three guys working their takedowns.

“Mom would freak out,” Hunter Delaney said, “because we were breaking stuff in the living room.”

Hunter, now a junior at Sun Valley in Aston, and older brothers Palmer and Killian, who attended West Chester Henderson back in the day, will live vicariously through each other when the PIAA Class 3A state tournament begins Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Hunter Delaney placed third in the Southeast Region. Wrestling aficionados Palmer and Killian couldn’t be prouder of him in his pursuit of a state medal. Particularly Killian, a wrestler at Lehigh University who at Henderson amassed 161 career victories and placed twice at states, including a silver medal in 2018.

“He doesn’t know how good he is sometimes, but I always remind him,” Killian said of Hunter. “Sometimes he just needs to step up and believe he’s that good.”

Hunter Delaney did that last week to become part of a four-person Sun Valley contingent searching for medals at states. The group includes Brandon Carr and Brecken Strickland, plus his sister Jameson, a champion at 148 in the girls Southeast Regional. The Delaneys enjoyed talking about the old days spent “roughhousing around” until they found refuge in the wrestling room.

“Killian would grab me and take me over to the wrestling room and we’d practice,” Hunter said. “Even when I didn’t feel like it, we’d practice. He helped me go from JV in my freshman year to qualifying for states my sophomore year. So, I’m very appreciative of that.”

Hunter Delaney (38-7) gets started in states at 139 pounds against junior Jake Mitchell (31-9) of Cumberland Valley, who finished fourth in the South-Central region.

At 133 pounds, junior Brecken Strickland (33-12) of Sun Valley takes on junior Kase Chopp (34-7) of Butler in the opening round. At that point, if Strickland isn’t cheering on Jameson, she’ll be cheering for him. Jameson Strickland (30-1) opposes fellow freshman Brooke Long (5-3) of Wyoming Valley West. Count on a ton of Sun Valley blue and gold supporting their contingent at the Giant Center. The Vanguards are the only Delco school sending multiple male wrestlers to Hershey.

“It shows that we have kids willing to put in the work and that we have a great coaching staff,” Brecken Strickland said. “Tommy Ellis (Sun Valley head coach) does a great job running everything. I just like being around these guys. Brandon Carr for example, he helps a lot with everyone like the JV kids, the varsity kids, anything they need. We have kids that are like, if you ask them a question, they’ll answer it and they’ll help you out. And it helps us all as a team.”

At 114 pounds, junior Jayden Lee (30-9) of Radnor, who was second in the Southeast region, takes on Remy Trach (26-14) of Nazareth, third in the Northeast. Lee became the first Radnor wrestler to reach the regional finals since Tommy Meyers in 2015.

“He didn’t start wrestling until high school,” coach Justin Schellenger said of Lee. “And he had a really good partner last year in Akahi Heywood, who was our 107-pounder who lost in a match to go to states. He really helped make Jayden the wrestler he is, and now Jayden’s repaying that favor by wrestling at a really, really high level.”

Reining Daily Times Wrestler of the Year Curtis Nelson (37-2) of Ridley opposes Caiden Harbert (33-10) of West Allegheny in the first round of the states at 114 pounds. Nelson finished third in the region after sustaining a defensive pin against Lee. A victory in the first round and Nelson, who was eighth in states last year would be up against undefeated senior Kaedyn Williams (34-0) of Manheim Township, the fourth-place finisher in Hershey last year.

Carr (37-5) opposes senior Jack Tongel (26-12) of Plum in the first round. Only a junior, Carr finished third in the region.

“I think all of us have some hard roads ahead of us,” Carr said of the Sun Valley wrestlers. “Nothing that we can’t overcome, you know. We’ve been battling all year. We’ve been grinding in the room together. So, we’re prepared, we’re ready, we’re excited. It’s going to be a real fun weekend.”

The only Delco wrestler to earn gold in the region, Michael Spielman of Strath Haven, is fourth among five No. 1 seeds at 189. That class is topped by defending champion Hogan Tucker of Daniel Boone.

Spielman (38-1) opposes the winner of the first-round match between senior J.J. Plaza (34-7) of Hempfield and senior Gavin Mickey (29-13) of Mifflin County. If Spielman makes it into the quarters, he likely faces Tucker, who is at the top of the bracket.

Spielman is the first Delaware County sophomore to win a regional title since Sun Valley’s Hunter Catka in 2018. Catka went on that season to win the first of two state titles.

In the girls tournament, Jameson Strickland (30-1) is ranked first in the District 1/12 region at 148 pounds. She hasn’t lost to Pennsylvania opposition this season. Garnet Valley’s Reese Dewar (106) and Jessica Ayala (142) also are in states. The freshman Dewar (7-3) takes on junior Eden Eveleth (23-6) of Bald Eagle Area in the first round at 106 pounds. Ayala (4-2), the only senior among the nine Delco wrestlers at states, gets freshman Anastasia Manchester (25-6) of Butler.

All told the Delaney brothers have 343 high school wrestling wins, Killian and Palmer exclusively at Henderson, Hunter in one year at Henderson and two at Sun Valley.

No matter what happens in Hershey, there almost certainly will be more victories and more stories about growing up in a house full of playful contact. Stuff was broken. Important stuff?

“Nothing that wasn’t replaceable,” Killian said with a smile.

Source: Berkshire mont

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