A lot of blood, sweat and tears will be shed this weekend in the District 6 Class AA Tournament at the Altoona Fieldhouse, and a lot of unpredictable things will happen.
Add to that a lot of very deep weight classes, and it makes it very difficult to pick a winner and a loser.
But again I’ll be attempting to do that with my postseason picks. It’s a fun time of the year, and trying to pick among very good wrestlers can be fun and very tricky.
The trick is to get off to a good start in the district tournament, and with six top seeds in the first six weights, the area could and should be well represented early on in the finals.
I’m picking Tyrone’s dynamic duo of Ronnie Garbinsky and A.J. Schopp to capture titles at 103 and 112, respectively, and Schopp is my pick for Outstanding Wrestler. Schopp is in a deep weight class, where two undefeated wrestlers sit in the opposite bracket from Schopp.
Penn Cambria’s Ryan Link should win at 125. His 119-pound teammate, Pat Myers, should make the finals, but his projected opponent, Forest Hills veteran David Fogle, will likely win a close bout.
Claysburg-Kimmel’s Cody Feathers is an example of crazy things that can happen in the district tournament.
Feathers beat the previous year’s District 6 Tournament Outstanding Wrestler, Tyrone’s T.J. Albright, in the quarterfinals, pinned Northern Cambria’s previously unbeaten Scott Knarr in the semifinals and headlocked Cambria Heights’ top-seeded Glenn Winslow in the final 10 seconds of the bout to win, 6-3.
Feathers, who was later voted the OW, could meet Winslow again in the finals, but Winslow will have a big test against one of United’s twin freshmen terrors, Rob Henderson, who beat the Heights senior, 6-5, earlier in the season. Winslow will find a way to win, but he’ll lose to Feathers.
Central Cambria’s Phil Steinberg could win at 135, but the pick is Westmont Hilltop’s Pat Dumire. I’m not counting out Portage’s unbeaten Shawn Perich, who wrestled most of the season at 140.
From there, Cambria Heights’ Joe Leppert (152) and Don Miller (189), Huntingdon’s Bobby Mort (171) and Central’s Jeremy Rhodes (285) are picks to make the finals.
But my only winner among that group is Miller. Mort has been unstoppable, but he’ll be facing Richland’s Marco Pecora, who just dropped from 189 and beat Mort in last year’s finals at 171.
The team race will come down to the teams in the District 6 Team Duals in Mount Union, Westmont Hilltop, Huntingdon and Forest Hills. The Hilltoppers will stick around to win the title.
The following are all of my picks. Remember, they’re for entertainment purposes only. Some of them are more entertaining than others.
103 POUNDS: Finalists: Ronnie Garbinsky, Tyrone vs. Adam Weinell, Blairsville. Champion: Garbinsky. Comment: These two split at the Thomas Chevrolet Tournament, so it should be interesting again if Westmont Hilltop’s Tanner Hough doesn’t knock off Weinell in the semifinals.
112 POUNDS: Finalists: A.J. Schopp, Tyrone vs. Evan Henderson, United. Champion: Schopp. Comment: The Hendersons, Evan and Rob, have surprised a lot of people this season, but I think Schopp has the edge in a likely classic battle over unbeaten Evan. Somerset’s 23-0 Luke Lohr and Henderson will meet in the semis.
119 POUNDS: Finalists: Pat Myers, Penn Cambria vs. David Fogle, Forest Hills. Champion: Fogle. Comment: The top-seeded Myers, third-seeded Fogle and second-seeded Trevor Kushner haven’t wrestled, so any of them could win it. Fogle won at 112 last season, and Kushner rode Myers out in the third tiebreaker of the 103-pound finals.
125 POUNDS: Finalists: Ryan Link, Penn Cambria vs. Tom McVicker, Forest Hills. Champion: Link. Comment: This is a deep weight class, as McVicker’s sixth seed indicates, but Link is battle tested and should win it. Tyrone’s second-seeded Anthony Romano or Central Cambria’s seventh-seeded Michael Kline could be Link’s opponent.
130 POUNDS: Finalists: Cody Feathers, Claysburg-Kimmel vs. Glenn Winslow, Cambria Heights. Champion: Feathers. Comment: To get to the finals, Winslow will have to avenge a loss to Rob Henderson. If Winslow makes it, won’t another bout with Feathers be fun to watch?
135 POUNDS: Finalists: Phil Steinberg, Central Cambria vs. Pat Dumire, Westmont Hilltop. Champion: Dumire. Comment: This is wide open, but the advantage to returning district runner-up Dumire. Portage’s unbeaten and third-seeded Shawn Perich and Northern Cambria’s sixth-seeded Scott Knarr could stop Dumire’s title run.
140 POUNDS: Finalists: T.J. Keklak, Westmont Hilltop vs. Kevin Ryan, Mount Union. Champion: Keklak. Comment: Keklak has beaten Ryan this season. Claysburg-Kimmel’s third-seeded Daniel Knott has beaten Keklak, but he’s banged up.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: T.J. Polacek, Westmont Hilltop vs. Keith Ryan, Mount Union. Champion: Ryan. Comment: Ryan beat Polacek at the District 6 Duals. C-K’s fifth-seeded Matt Aungst could knock off Polacek in the semifinals.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Mike Brant, Westmont Hilltop vs. Joe Leppert, Cambria Heights. Champion: Brant. Comment: The seventh-seeded Leppert was a district runner-up last season, and he could be the Cinderella of the tournament. His quarterfinal bout against Penn Cambria’s second-seeded John Julian will be key.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Dustin Drake, Mount Union vs. Myers Miller, Ligonier Valley. Champion: Drake. Comment: These guys seem to be the class of this weight.
171 POUNDS: Finalists: Bobby Mort, Huntingdon vs. Marco Pecora, Richland. Champion: Pecora. Comment: Pecora beat Mort, 11-4, in last year’s district finals. Pecora will have to be at his best to beat the undefeated Mort.
189 POUNDS: Finalists: Don Miller, Cambria Heights vs. Ryan Krouse, Richland. Champion: Miller. Comment: Miller has been rock-solid this season. Portage’s Joe Shook could stop Krouse’s run to the finals in the semifinals.
215 POUNDS: Finalists: Vince Corden, Somerset vs. Jamel Fortson, Mount Union. Champion: Corden. Comment: Huntingdon’s fifth-seeded Jason Everhart and Glendale’s third-seeded Cody Caracciolo could stop this finals matchup from happening.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Jeremy Rhodes, Central vs. Brad Michaels, West Branch. Champion: Michaels. Comment: Another wide open weight, and Portage’s Kevin Stager, Bellwood-Antis’ Cody Smith and C-K’s Ben Parry could make the finals.
OUTSTANDING WRESTLER: A.J. Schopp, Tyrone
TEAM CHAMPION: Westmont Hilltop. Comment: The team race is up for grabs among the Hilltoppers, Mount Union, Huntingdon and Forest Hills.