I had never covered the Richland Duals, but with 10 teams in the expanded 28-team field, we thought it was a good idea to cover the largest dual meet tournament in the state.
The tournament is definitely impressive.
Using four gyms, including two at the high school and two at the nearby East Hills Recreation building, tournament officials are able to move the tournament along at a pace that was ahead of schedule on both days. On Saturday, the teams that qualified to make the top 16 wrestled at the high school, and the rest wrestled in the other building.
The high school campus is pretty big for a Class AA school. Heck, it would be big for a lot of Class AAA schools. As I was walking into the high school Saturday, a Bellefonte wrestler was heard saying on his way out "I can't believe this is a AA school."
Coaches could gather in the roomy press box, which had a good view of all the mats, which was useful to scribes from Altoona, Johnstown and Bedford as we got our interviews done and tracked down box scores from previous matches.
Ah yes, the box scores. It's up to us media types to get those summaries any way we can. Most of the area coaches are cooperative, and will provide their scorebooks, but with some teams in the other gyms and the tournament moving along at a brisk pace, getting all of the boxes just isn't possible.
Tournament officials should think about having people in all of the gyms either typing the results in to provide to the media, thus helping us get the results to the public, or to have a copy of all of the box scores brought to the press box. It helped that District 6 wrestling fan Bfly was providing scores and a chat room on his web site.
Richland is considering expanding the field again next year. The dual meet tournament is becoming more and more popular to programs with the cost of traveling rising and the season being shortened by a week, so we'll probably see more of these types of tournaments being added.
This year's field was pretty balanced. Bellefonte was was one of a handful of Class AAA teams in field and had lost to Philipsburg-Osceola earlier in the season, was the surprise winner. The Red Raiders have a couple studs in Mitchell Port and Thomas Traxler, but it was their overall balance that carried them to the title.
Huntingdon, which was tested by Chestnut Ridge and Tyrone earlier in the tournament, battled the Raiders to the end in the finals before falling. Claysburg-Kimmel, which beat Tyrone for third place, just got pinned too many times against Bellefonte.
Most of the teams wrestled eight matches in two days, and wrestlers had to fight the fatigue factor while having to stay ready to compete sometimes immediately after their last match.
But most of the teams will tell you the trip was worth it.
Upon further review
Tyrone jumped the gun a little with Ronnie Garbinsky getting his 100th win. He has 99 going into tonight's match at Altoona.
Bisons, NBC to clash
Bedford and Northern Bedford, the two top teams in the Mirror rankings, will battle Saturday at Bedford. The Bisons are 8-0, while the Black Panthers are 9-1 and coming off of a 42-18 rout of Chestnut Ridge.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.