Tyrone's 1-2 punch of Ronnie Garbinsky and A.J. Schopp have been showing their improvement from last year the entire season. Not many have challenged Garbinsky, and only one wrestler, Bald Eagle Area's Jacob Taylor, has gone the distance with Schopp.
They're the last two area wrestlers with unblemished records, and it's going to stay that way this week at the Southwest Regional Tournament.
Garbinsky, of course, has the bigger challenge of the two. Garbinsky, ranked No. 1 by Off The Mat, should face off with Shady Side Academy's second-ranked Frank Martellotti in a physical finals bout, and I'm giving the edge to the Tyrone junior in Round 1. Round 2 could come next week in the state finals.
While Westmont Hilltop's Trevor Kushner, Bedford's Trey Easter, Claysburg-Kimmel's Cole Claar and West Greene's Colton Blumer are battling in the bottom of the 135-pound weight class, Schopp will breeze to the finals. Once there, he'll likely find Kushner, who might become the second to go 6 minutes with Schopp.
The Golden Eagle stars will be two of nine area regional champions, including seven in the Southwest Regional and two in the Northwest Regional Class AAA Tournament.
Penn Cambria's top-ranked 112-pounder Evan Link will become the first champion in the Southwest in a District 6 finals rematch with Westmont Hilltop's second-ranked Josh Polacek. Link and Polacek have been wrestling since Link was 7, and he always seems to have the slight edge, and he will again this week in Round 2 of the postseason.
Link's 125-pound teammate, Pat Myers, hasn't had much good luck at the Southwest Regional, especially in the championship rounds, but it says here that he'll be able to avenge one of his losses, to North Star's Joe Lascari, and he'll reach the finals. His finals foe, Juniata Valley's Taylor Boyd, will have a stiff test in the semifinals against Burrell's Dave Makara, but he'll pass. Myers then should win the rematch with Boyd.
Zak Newton was 8 seconds away from making it 3-for-3 for Penn Cambria in the district finals, but Forest Hills' Zack Glessner found a way to win at 189. Newton will close the deal this week against Glessner.
In order for Central Cambria 140-pounder Phil Steinberg to get a rematch with Chestnut Ridge's Josh Shane, who handed him his only loss, Shane will have to avenge his Thomas Subaru loss to Somerset's Luke Lohr. The pick here is Steinberg beating Lohr again in the finals.
Portage's Shawn Perich should roll into the 145-pound finals again and capture his second regional title with a win over South Fayette's Nick Carr. C-K's Corey Aungst and Central Cambria's Tony Risaliti could work their way to the finals.
Bedford's Cory Thomas (119) and Brian Gibbons (152) will have to settle for second place.
Burrell edged Shady Side Academy to win the District 7 title, but the pick here is Shady Side this week, with Burrell, Bedford, Northern Bedford, Westmont, Penn Cambria and Forest Hills making a big challenge.
Altoona's dynamic duo of T.J. Brandt and K.J. Walters will capture Northwest titles at 103 and 189, respectively. Brandt will roll into the finals and beat Clearfield's Christian Stone, while Walters will have it a lot harder against Corry's Michael Pollard. Walters, however, should win and set some Altoona history. The Mountain Lions haven't had multiple regional champs since 1975.
Central Mountain should run away with another team title with six champions.
The following is the rest of my picks. Enjoy.
103 POUNDS: Finalists: Nick Roberts, North Star vs. Joshua Patrick, Ligonier Valley. Champion: Roberts. Comment: Cambria Heights' Ryan Dupas could stop Patrick's march to the finals.
112 POUNDS: Finalists: Evan Link, Penn Cambria vs. Josh Polacek, Westmont Hilltop. Champion: Link. Comment: Huntingdon's Kie Brown will battle Polacek to the wire again after falling in the ultimate tiebreaker at districts.
119 POUNDS: Finalists: Geoff Alexander, Shady Side Academy vs. Cory Thomas, Bedford. Champion: Alexander. Comment: It will be tough to knock off a two-time regional champion.
125 POUNDS: Finalists: Taylor Boyd, Juniata Valley vs. Pat Myers, Penn Cambria. Champion: Myers. Comment: Boyd will have enough to beat Burrell's returning state qualifier Dave Makara in semis.
130 POUNDS: Finalists: Frank Martellotti, Shady Side Academy vs. Ronnie Garbinsky, Tyrone. Champion: Garbinsky. Comment: Expect this one to be very physical.
135 POUNDS: Finalists: A.J. Schopp, Tyrone vs. Trevor Kushner, Westmont Hilltop. Champion: Schopp. Comment: Bedford's Trey Easter and Claysburg-Kimmel's Cole Claar will have a say on Kushner's side.
140 POUNDS: Finalists: Phil Steinberg, Central Cambria vs. Luke Lohr, Somerset. Champion: Steinberg. Comment: I'd like to see the rematch between Steinberg and Chestnut Ridge's Josh Shane.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Nick Carr, South Fayette vs. Shawn Perich, Portage. Champion: Perich. Comment: Corey Aungst, Tony Risaliti and Tanner Ripple in the same bracket make things interesting.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Travis McKillop, Burrell vs. Brian Gibbbons, Bedford. Champion: McKillop. Comment: Gibbons will get past Richland's Craig Harris in the semifinals.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Sam Guidi, Fort Cherry vs. Chris Gallaher, Forest Hills. Champion: Gallaher. Comment: Juniata Valley's Shawn McCrum and Everett's Luke Hoover could knock off Guidi.
171 POUNDS: Finalists: Matthew Cunningham, Shady Side Academy vs. Ryan Burnheimer, Westmont Hilltop. Champion: Cunningham. Comment: I was tempted to pick Portage's David Kephart to win it all.
189 POUNDS: Finalists: Zak Newton, Penn Cambria vs. Zack Glessner, Forest Hills. Champion: Newton. Comment: Somerset's Nick Baer and Fort Cherry's Gary Kiefer battle in quarters to face Newton.
215 POUNDS: Finalists: Brian Beattie, Burrell vs. Jamel Fortson, Mount Union. Champion: Beattie. Comment: Northern Bedford's Joel Suter could stop Beattie if he's healthy.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: John Rizzo, Richland vs. Jeff Tarley, Beth-Center. Champion: Rizzo. Comment: Northern Bedford's Quinton Hixson will be a test for Tarley.
TEAM CHAMPION: Shady Side Academy. Comment: Bedford, Penn Cambria and Northern Bedford will battle Westmont Hilltop, Forest Hills, Shady Side and Burrell.
103 POUNDS: Finalists: T.J. Brandt, Altoona vs. Christian Stone, Clearfield. Champion: Brandt. Comment: Stone has earned two close wins over BEA's District 6 runner-up Justin Giedroc.
112 POUNDS: Finalists: Trevor Graham, Franklin vs. Tom Traxler, Bellefonte. Champion: Traxler. Comment: Graham beat General McLane's returning state qualifier Tim Wheeling at districts.
119 POUNDS: Finalists: Shelton Mack, Meadville vs. Keleb Loht, Indian Valley. Champion: Mack. Comment: Matchup of returning regional champs should be a good one.
125 POUNDS: Finalists: Amani Bosco, Warren vs. Mitchell Port, Bellefonte. Champion: Port. Comment: It's going to take somebody very, very good to beat Port.
130 POUNDS: Finalists: Steve Spearman, McDowell vs. Erik Galloway, State College. Champion: Spearman. Comment: Galloway and and Punxsy's Kody Young will be a good one in the semis.
135 POUNDS: Finalists: Jordan Rich, Central Mountain vs. Adam Powers, State College. Champion: Rich. Comment: Powers will get a stiff test from Bradford's Zach Britton in the quarterfinals.
140 POUNDS: Finalists: Tyler Parsons, Cathedral Prep vs. Brian Brill, Central Mountain. Champion: Brill. Comment: Returning champion Parson will have to get through State College's Scott Bosak in quarters.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Derek Danver, Clearfield vs. Andrew Alton, Central Mountain. Champion: Alton. Comment: P-O's Logan Walstrom could get a rematch with Alton in the finals.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Zach Towers, Meadville vs. Dylan Alton, Central Mountain. Champion: Alton. Comment: Hollidaysburg's Damian Lascoli could stop Towers' march in the semifinals.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Colton Spade, Lewistown vs. Mark Havers, Bradford. Champion: Havers. Comment: Havers beat Spade, 8-2, in last year's 152-pound finals.
171 POUNDS: Finalists: Jermaine Easter, Cathedral Prep vs. Dylan Caprio, Central Mountain. Champion: Caprio. Comment: Easter is a returning champ, but Caprio is wrestling very well.
189 POUNDS: Finalists: Michael Pollard, Corry vs. K.J. Walters, Altoona. Champion: Walters. Comment: Walters hasn't been tested like this since the Jon Girngrich bout.
215 POUNDS: Finalists: Jon Gingrich, Bald Eagle Area vs. Sean Sadosky, St. Marys. Champion: Sadosky. Comment: This is a battle of two strong young men. Give the returning runner-up the edge.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Caleb Baker, General McLane vs. Zach Corl, Central Mountain. Champion: Corl. Comment: Corl was pinned by Clearfield's Sean Owen in the finals last year.
TEAM CHAMPION: Central Mountain. Comment: The Wildcats are warming up for the PIAA Championships.
LAST WEEK'S PICKS RECORD: 17 out of 30 in District 5, 21 out of 30 in District 6 Class AAA
OVERALL PICKS RECORD: 61 out of 90.