With a 4:30 p.m. start to the District 6 Class AA Tournament this year, instead of the normal 10 a.m. start, it was a safe bet that with the time crunch, the final bouts on the first day wouldn't end until around midnight, and that's exactly what happened.
I don't know the exact time because I, like many in the crowd, left early. The fans went home to get ready for the next day, and I had a deadline to meet.
Thankfully, tournament officials Bill Reimer and Tony Yaniello decided not to run the quarterfinal round the first night. If they had scheduled the quarters, they would have had to either move in cots to the Altoona Fieldhouse or move a consolation round to the next day.
Saturday's wrestling began at 9:30 a.m. and with only short breaks between rounds and a longer break between the consolation semifinals the fifth and third-place bouts, the wrestling still didn't end until after 10:30 p.m.
The officials did the best they could to help speed up the process, closing one bleacher section, adding a fifth mat for Friday's wrestling and moving Saturday's starting time from 10 to 9:30.
Usually, students at the Altoona High School have the Friday of the Class AA Tournament off. But since they didn't have off this year, wrestling at the Fieldhouse couldn't start until after school ended. Let's hope that doesn't happen again. Reimer assured district coaches at the seeding meeting last Tuesday that Altoona wouldn't have school on that day next year.
The tournament will lose a team next year in two-time defending champion Westmont Hilltop, which is moving up to Class AAA, and it will gain one with the arrival of Juniata, a District 3 power that's moving to District 6.
Bald Eagle Area, Philipsburg-Osceola and Lewistown could be wrestling at Class AA now, but they're opting to stay at Class AAA. If any or all of them dropped down, then the tournament times would have to be adjusted even more.
Some people will push to bring back sectionals, but that, along with the dreaded sub-regional, as we found out in the past, was a total failure. It just added another week to the postseason. The wrestling season started a week later this year, so a section would just take up time that teams used to prepare for districts.
No, what the tournament needs is normalcy.
Penn Cambria's Pat Myers, who beat Juniata Valley's Taylor Boyd, 9-3, in the 125-pound finals to finally win a District 6 title on his fourth attempt, has been hampered by having to take timeouts for a bloody nose throughout his career. He used up roughly half of his 5 minutes of blood time against Boyd on several stoppages.
"That's my biggest downfall," Myers said. "I bust my butt in practice, and for every time I get blood time it gives the other kid a break, and that's not what I'm about. When I was sixth grade, one of my blood vessels broke in my right nostril, and ever since then, it just keeps bleeding and bleeding."
Myers' win over Boyd was the 138th of his career, tying the school record Nathan Link set in 2007.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.