With the regional tournaments upon us, it’s getting harder and harder for wrestlers to make their way through their weights and advance to the next step in the postseason.
It’s also getting harder and harder to pick a winner and a loser in the championship finals.
Which brings us to the Southwest Regional Class AA Tournament. It’s a migraine waiting to happen for anybody trying to figure out who’s going to make the finals.
The tournament features deep weight classes with state champions, state medalists and highly ranked wrestlers. In some cases, they have wrestled before. In most cases, they haven’t.
You just have to look at the first two weights to see just how rugged they are. Shady Side Academy’s Geoff Alexander is the star in the top bracket at 103.
A number of talented wrestlers are in the bottom half, including Tyrone’s Ronnie Garbinsky and Bedford’s Trey Easter. Garbinsky and Easter could make it through to the semifinals, but they’ll have to be at the top of their game to get there.
Jefferson-Morgan’s Brian Scritchfield, who won the 103-pound title at the Thomas Chevrolet Family Tournament, is my pick to lose to Alexander in the finals.
At 112, there’s last year’s 103-pound state champion in Shady Side Academy’s Frank Martellotti and the runner-up in Tyrone’s A.J. Schopp.
In the bottom half, Bedford’s Cory Thomas will most likely have to deal with United’s once-beaten freshman Evan Henderson if he wants to wrestle Keystone Oaks’ Anthony Zanetta, who beat Martellotti in the District 7 finals.
The pick here is Zanetta over Schopp. Remember last year, when Schopp turned in an unbelievable performance throughout the tournament? Can he do it again? We’ll see.
I’m pretty comfortable in picking Claysburg-Kimmel’s Cody Feathers to win the 130-pound title. His opponent should be Cambria Heights rival Glenn Winslow. It wouldn’t be a postseason tournament without a Feathers-Winslow finals bout, right?
Young Guns workout partners Phil Steinberg of Central Cambria and Shawn Perich of Portage have a good shot at making the finals again. If they do, Steinberg wins again.
Penn Cambria’s Pat Myers, Northern Bedford’s Tyler Chesney, Chestnut Ridge’s Gary Pfahler (140), Huntingdon’s Bobby Mort (171) and Bedford’s Josh Krupa (285) should make the finals, but they’ll fall against rugged competition. In a very tough bracket, Pfahler would most likely wrestle Burrell’s returning state champion Jordan Shields.
I’ve predicted old rivals Josh McDannell of Chestnut Ridge and Cody Shippey of Bedford will be wrestling in the 215-pound finals, and McDannell will win again.
Burell should win the team title. It will be interesting to see how Bedford’s 12 wrestlers handle themselves coming off the District 5 title. The Bisons have battled the best this year, and they could prove me wrong at some weights.
In the Northwest Regional Class AAA Tournament, Philipsburg-Osceola’s Bo Reifer (189) and Dimitri Sidorick (215), Altoona’s Jacob Hines (103) and Hollidaysburg’s Ryan Colmer (152) are picked to follow up their district titles with regional titles.
All of them will have tougher weights this week, but I’m giving the edge to District 6 wrestlers because the district overall is better than the other three districts.
Central Mountain should win the team title again over Bellefonte. The Wildcats have too much balance and too many wrestlers like the Altons, Dylan and Andrew, who can ring up bonus points.
Hopefully, my regional picks are as good as my district picks were. Last week, I got a combined 41 out of 60 correct situations.
But as Schopp proved last year, anything can happen. The following are the rest of the picks.
SOUTHWEST CLASS AA
103 POUNDS: Finalists: Geoff Alexander, Shady Side Academy vs. Brian Scritchfield, Jefferson-Morgan. Champion: Alexander. Comment: Got a chance to watch the rugged Alexander in a 6-2 win over Bedford’s Trey Easter at PIAA Team Duals. The amazing bottom half of the bracket is a who’s who of Thomas Chevrolet Family Tournament wrestlers.
112 POUNDS: Finalists: A.J. Schopp, Tyrone vs. Anthony Zanetta, Keystone Oaks. Champion: Zanetta. Comment: Wow, what a weight class. I think Schopp can beat Shady Side’s Frank Martellotti in a rematch of the regional and state finals in his bracket, but I’m not sure about Zanetta. Bedford’s Cory Thomas, who beat Schopp at the Thomas Tournament, can’t be counted out.
119 POUNDS: Finalists: David Fogle, Forest Hills vs. Pat Myers, Penn Cambria. Champion: Fogle. Comment: The likely semifinal bout between Myers and Bedford’s Devin Cook should be very good. Fogle showed how good he is when he beat Myers in the District 6 finals.
125 POUNDS: Finalists: Dane Johnson, Shady Side Academy vs. Tyler Chesney, Northern Bedford. Champion: Johnson. Comment: This pick was rough because I think Penn Cambria’s Ryan Link has a good shot at beating Johnson, but I went with the returning state champion.
130 POUNDS: Finalists: Cody Feathers, Claysburg-Kimmel vs. Glenn Winslow, Cambria Heights. Champion: Feathers. Comment: Winslow will have to get past, among others, United’s Rob Henderson in his bracket. Winslow needed a last second takedown to beat Henderson in the district semifinals.
135 POUNDS: Finalists: Shawn Perich, Portage vs. Phil Steinberg, Central Cambria. Champion: Steinberg. Comment: Both of these guys will have to do some heavy duty wrestling just to get to a rematch of the district finals and, well, Young Guns practice. I was very temped to pick Bedford’s Tanner Ripple.
140 POUNDS: Finalists: Jordan Shields, Burrell vs. Gary Pfahler, Chestnut Ridge. Champion: Shields. Comment: I think this regional rematch will be much more competitive than last year, when Shields won, 8-1. Pfahler will have to get the through the survivor of quarterfinal between Mount Union’s Kevin Ryan and South Side Beaver’s Dominick Demor.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Bob Speer, Burrell vs. Keith Ryan, Mount Union. Champion: Ryan. Comment: Speer split with Ridge’s Cameron Corle in last year’s tournament, and Ryan pinned Corle this season. I’m not counting out Corle though.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Matthew Cunningham, Shady Side Academy vs. Mike Brant, Westmont Hilltop. Champion: Brant. Comment: Cunningham lost to Cameron Corle last season and was kicked out of the tournament for hitting Corle with a back suplay, after being called for interlocking hands with three seconds left. So I was tempted to put Cambria Heights’ Joe Leppert in the finals on that side.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Dustin Drake, Mount Union vs. Myers Miller, Ligonier Valley. Champion: Miller. Comment: Northern Cambria’s Jon Rajnish and Northern Bedford’s Ben Sollenberger could mess up things in their respective brackets.
171 POUNDS: Finalists: Marco Pecora, Richland vs. Bobby Mort, Huntingdon. Champion: Pecora. Comment: Mort will most likely have to beat Bedford’s P.J. Brett in the quarterfinals and Shady Side’s Kurt Brendel in the semifinals to get another against the rugged Pecora.
189 POUNDS: Finalists: Roman San Doval, Shady Side Academy vs. Ryan Krouse, Richland. Champion: Krouse. Comment: I was tempted to pick Cambria Heights’ Don Miller over San Doval in the quarterfinals. Jefferson-Morgan’s Ethan Virgili could stop Krouse’s run to the finals.
215 POUNDS: Finalists: Josh McDannell, Chestnut Ridge vs. Cody Shippey, Bedford. Champion: McDannell. Comment: I think Shippey has the stuff to get by Burgettstown’s Dan Conley, who is ranked ahead of the Bedford junior in the Off The Mat rankings.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Josh Krupa, Bedford vs. Zack Reefer, Elderton. Champion: Reefer. Comment: The District 7 heavyweights were pretty good last season. If Krupa can beat Washington’s Sam Miller, a returning state qualifier, in the quarters, he’s in the finals.
TEAM CHAMPION: Burrell. Comment: Burrell has too much balance for Shady Side Academy and Bedford, which should be contending.
NORTHWEST CLASS AAA
103 POUNDS: Finalists: Jacob Hines, Altoona vs. T.J. Stanton, DuBois. Champion: Hines. Comment: Semifinal between Hines and Meadville’s returning regional qualifier Shelton Mack should be a good one.
112 POUNDS: Finalists: Mitchell Port, Bellefonte vs. Jordan Rich, Central Mountain. Champion: Port. Comment: I shouldn’t have doubted Port last week. PUnxsutawney’s undefeated Kody Young is in the tough bottom bracket.
119 POUNDS: Finalists: Matt Snyder, Lewistown vs. Zach Hoy, St. Marys. Champion: Snyder. Comment: Snyder should breeze to the title here. It’s just the matter of who he’ll wrestle that makes it difficult. I’m giving the edge of Hoy, but Bellefonte’s Nate James and General McLane’s Cyrus Parlin could make it through.
125 POUNDS: Finalists: Chad Frankhouser, Indian Valley vs. Rocco Wellek, Erie Cathedral Prep. Champion: Frankhouser. Comment: Wellek placed fourth at the regional tournament last year, but Bellefonte’s Addison Snyder will give him stiff test in quarterfinals.
130 POUNDS: Finalists: Jon Quiggle, Central Mountain vs. Preston Snyder, Bellefonte. Champion: Quiggle. Comment: Snyder’s toughest bout before finals will be in quarterfinals against Prep’s Anthony Blaszcyk, whom he pinned twice last year, the second time coming in the consolation finals.
135 POUNDS: Finalists: Dylan Alton, Central Mountain vs. Adam Will, Indian Valley. Champion: Alton. Comment: Will was the only guy Alton didn’t pin last week, which tells you how good he is.
140 POUNDS: Finalists: Andrew Alton, Central Mountain vs. Tye Boyer, Indian Valley. Champion: Alton. Comment: Like Will, Boyer was only wrestler to go distance with this Alton.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Shane Alterio, Bellefonte vs. Brian Greenlee, Franklin. Champion: Alterio. Comment: Semifinal between Alterio and Prep’s returning champion Jamal Lyons should be a good one. Greenlee’s quarterfinal against Lewistown’s Colton Spade will also be good.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Ryan Colmer, Hollidaysburg vs. Ted Sunday, State College. Champion: Colmer. Comment: Mike Moore was right when he said there are six guys who are pretty equal, but I’m going with the District 6 rematch.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Steve Bosak, State College vs. Nick Milano, Erie Cathedral Prep. Champion: Bosak. Comment: Both Bosak and Milano won regional finalists last year, but Bosak is a little better.
171 POUNDS: Finalists: Quentin Wright, Bald Eagle Area vs. Will Harris, Johnstown. Champion: Wright. Comment: There’s no doubt Wright will win his fourth titles. The doubt is whether he’ll be doing it against Harris or Punxsy’s Steve Cressley.
189 POUNDS: Finalists: Bo Reifer, Philipsburg-Osceola vs. Josh Wensel, Bellefonte. Champion: Reifer. Comment: I was tempted to make Erie Strong Vincent’s undefeated Edwin Taylor Reifer’s opponent, but since Reifer pinned Taylor in the first round last year and Wensel went the distance, Wensel got the nod.
215 POUNDS: Finalists: Dimitri Sidorick, Philipsburg-Osceola vs. Glenn Barnes, Central Mountain. Champion: Sidorick. Comment: Another Erie Strong Vincent undefeated wrestler, DeAndre Bell, is in the opposite bracket from Sidorick, but he’s going to have to be really good to beat Barnes.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Tim Watson, Bald Eagle Area vs. Sean Owen, Clearfield. Champion: Watson. Comment: Watson pinned Owen in last year’s tournament. Owen will have to survive a tough semifinal against P-O’s Mike Horton to get to the finals.
TEAM CHAMPION: Central Mountain. Comment: The Wildcats again have too much balance for Bellefonte and Bald Eagle Area.