The last two years, Huntingdon and Chestnut Ridge have been battling for the title of the Richland Duals. Last year, the Bearcats won and the Lions took second. Two years ago, the Lions won the title, while the Bearcats took second.
Ridge and Huntingdon will again be in contention for the title this year, but they'll have to work their way through a deeper field. The Duals have expanded to 28 teams this year, becoming one of the biggest dual meet tournaments in the state.
There was talk even as this season was in its infancy of expanding to 30 teams. If Altoona would have been added, the Mountain Lions would have had to bring another team, but they chose to pick up the Cedar Cliff Duals on Jan. 2, so the tournament field is likely to stay at 28.
Ten area teams will head to Richland for the two-day Duals, which begin Friday. In addition to Ridge and Huntingdon, Central, Central Cambria, Claysburg-Kimmel, Glendale, Moshannon Valley, Northern Cambria, Portage and Tyrone are the other area teams wrestling there.
C-K, which went 6-2 in last year's Duals, Ridge and Huntingdon are ranked third through fifth in the Mirror's top five, and it says here one of those three will win the title. Ridge has won the title twice in the last four years, finished second twice in the last five years and placed in the top five all five years.
"I just looked at all 28 teams," Ridge coach Greg Lazor said, "and it's a pretty solid tournament. To me, Huntingdon looks like the team to beat. To get in the top six will be a battle in itself. Not having any weak spots is the key, and having solid backups to bump around your studs. I think we can compete with any of them."
Huntingdon coach Jon Mykut, whose 2007 team also finished second, didn't want any part of having that favorite label.
"I don't know if we're the favorites," he said. "I think there will be lots of good wrestling. I think we're to going to compete and see where we stand. Chestnut Ridge is always tough. I know Ridge is a good team and they're well coached. I know they'll be ready to wrestle. Claysburg is tough. We saw Tyrone at the Zeigler Tournament, and they're good. Richland is looking pretty good."
Each team will have to wrestle at least seven dual meets over two days, which means the team that's healtheir and has the better balance will come out on top.
Who will win? Ridge, Huntingdon and C-K all have great balance in their lineups, but the edge here goes to the Bulldogs because of their rugged early-season schedule. The Bulldogs are 4-3, but they've lost to top-ranked Bedford, 34-31, and second-ranked Northern Bedford, 38-33, and to District 6 power Mount Union, 42-28.
Whoever comes out of it as champion will have earned it.
Grimes makes a move
The biggest mover in the Mirror rankings this week was Everett's Levi Grimes, who went from unranked at 189 to second.
Weimert is quick
When he pins somebody, Tussey Mountain 103-pounder Scott Weimert usually doesn't waste any time. Already with pins of 16 and 18 seconds, Weimert pinned Hollidaysburg's Ian Barfield in six seconds at the Indiana Tournament over the weekend.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at email@example.com.