Chestnut Ridge and Northern Bedford think they can stop Bedford's two-year run of winning the District 5 Tournament team title, but it says here that Bedford will be hoising the team trophy again.
The Bisons have too many pinners, especially in the lower and middle weights, and more balance than Ridge and NBC, so they should win. Northern battled the Bisons in the dual meet and in the Thomas Subaru Tournament, but Bedford had enough to win the dual meet and later the tournament.
Bedford should go 5-for-5 in the finals, getting titles from two-time champions Cory Thomas (119) and Trey Easter (135), 2009 champion Brian Gibbons (152), 2008 champion Tanner Ripple (145) and two-time placewinner Zach Maust (130). The Bisons will also get a bunch of wins in the consolations to help the cause.
Thomas, the school's all-time pin leader, will meet up with Chestnut Ridge's Shane Pfaunmiller in the finals. Pfaunmiller lost to North Star's eventual state champion Nick Roberts, 5-0, in last year's district finals. Roberts, who pinned his way through the Thomas Tournament, is the pick here to get voted the Outstanding Wrestler.
Ripple will likely tangle with Northern Bedford's Willie Sollenberger in the finals. It's hard to believe, but these two haven't wrestled yet this year because Sollenberger went at 152 in the dual meet and 160 in the tournament. Give the edge to Ripple, who was a runner-up at 135 last year, in a bout that begins a streak of seven all-area matchups.
Gibbons made the drop to 152 for the Altoona match, so he's hoping that work to get down there pays off, and it will against Northern Bedford's Dillon Troutman.
NBC's Preston Albright (171), Joel Suter (215) and Quinton Hixson (285) should also win titles, as should Ridge's Josh Shane (140) and Jake Deffibaugh (189) and Everett's Luke Hoover (160). That's a total of 11 area wrestlers capturing titles.
Hoover will take on Ridge freshman Tyler Dibert in an intriguing finals bout that pits the senior against the rookie, and Hoover has the edge.
Everett's Matt Stanton (215) and Johnnie Matney (285), Tussey Mountain's Carl Kylor (171) and NBC's Dan Sollenberger (189) will also make the finals, but fall there. Ridge's Jude Donatelli likely would have made the finals, but he's out of the tournament with a broken foot.
It should be an interesting weekend, especially if the weather forces officials to move all the wrestling to Saturday. Making the picks was just as difficult and interesting.
103 POUNDS: Finalists: Nick Roberts, North Star vs. Collin Day, Meyersdale. Champion: Roberts. Comment: Northern Bedford's Mason Replogle will provide Day a stiff test in the semifinals.
112 POUNDS: Finalists: Steven McKenzie, Meyersdale vs. B.J. Heinrich, Conemaugh Township. Champion: Heinrich. Comment: Chestnut Ridge's Kenny Corle has a shot to make the finals.
119 POUNDS: Finalists: Cory Thomas, Bedford vs. Shane Pfaunmiller, Chestnut Ridge. Champion: Thomas. Comment: Thomas is on a mission.
125 POUNDS: Finalists: Joe Lascari, North Star vs. Tanner Cahill, Conemaugh Township. Champion: Lascari. Comment: Cahill's only losses were to Tanner Hough and Mitchell Port.
130 POUNDS: Finalists: Zach Maust, Bedford vs. Brandon Mihelcic, Shade. Champion: Maust. Comment: Mihelcic will need to get past Hyndman's Levi Hosselrode in the semifinals.
135 POUNDS: Finalists: Trey Easter, Bedford vs. Cory Berchick, Conemaugh Township. Champion: Easter. Comment: I wouldn't be surprised if Easter pinned his way through.
140 POUNDS: Finalists: Josh Shane, Chestnut Ridge vs. Richard Baker, North Star. Champion: Shane. Comment: Shane is looking forward to this tournament after his Thomas Subaru loss.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Tanner Ripple, Bedford vs. Willie Sollenberger, Northern Bedford. Champion: Ripple. Comment: Ripple lost in last year's finals to Andy Sollenberger.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Brian Gibbons, Bedford vs. Dillon Troutman, Northern Bedford. Champion: Gibbons. Comment: Troutman will have a tough semifinal against Shade's Sam Aikey.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Tyler Dibert, Chestnut Ridge vs. Luke Hoover, Everett. Champion: Hoover. Comment: Dibert will be in the finals a lot in his career, but Hoover has the experience edge here.
171 POUNDS: Finalists: Carl Kylor, Tussey Mountain vs. Preston Albright, Northern Bedford. Champion: Albright. Comment: Albright will have the stuff to knock off the No. 1 seed.
189 POUNDS: Finalists: Jake Deffibaugh, Chestnut Ridge vs. Dan Sollenberger, Northern Bedford. Champion: Deffibaugh. Comment: Everett's Levi Grimes will battle Deffibaugh in the semis.
215 POUNDS: Finalists: Joel Suter, Northern Bedford vs. Matt Stanton, Everett. Champion: Suter. Comment: Bedford's Jacob Krupa will test an injured Suter in the semifinals.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Quinton Hixson, Northern Bedford vs. Johnnie Matney, Everett. Champion: Hixson. Comment: These two are definitely the top two at this weight.
OUTSTANDING WRESTLER: Nick Roberts, North Star.
TEAM CHAMPION: Bedford. Comment: The Bisons have enough balance to win this again.