Claysburg-Kimmel had its shot at winning the Thomas Subaru Tournament - a tough test that gives teams glimpses of the postseason - but a 1-for-4 showing in the championship finals meant the Bulldogs had to settle for second behind Somerset.
The Bulldogs also finished second in the Zeigler Chevrolet Tournament behind a Virginia team and second to Huntingdon in the Richland Duals and in the District 6 Duals.
So, picking them to win a team title in a wide open District 6 Tournament field might appear to be a risky move, but that's exactly what I'm doing with the first edition of my postseason picks.
On paper, C-K seems to have a little more firepower than Penn Cambria, which finished third at the Subaru Tournament, and Huntingdon, which beat the Bulldogs twice but took fifth in Bedford.
It also seems to have more than Forest Hills, which is healthier than it has been in a while, and tournament newcomer Juniata, which took third at the Duals but is dealing with the death of 125-pounder Tad Treaster.
Would I bet the house on Claysburg-Kimmel winning? Not a chance. Not when any one of those four teams could win it. The winning team will have to get its share of bonus points in the championship rounds and consolation rounds and will have to win at least one title. All four of those teams should have a district champion.
I'm picking the Bulldogs to have two of the area's seven champions in Ty Dively at 125 and Cole Claar at 130. Dively will get a big test from Central Cambria's undefeated Ben Rager, and Claar will win a collision with PC's Nick Szala.
Two other Bulldogs, 119-pounder James Dodson and 145-pounder Corey Aungst, will make the finals but settle for second. Huntingdon's Kie Brown beat Dodson, 6-3, in the Thomas finals, and they should meet again. Aungst has to tangle with Juniata's Zach Beitz, who was the 112-pound state runner-up two years ago.
Penn Cambria 112-pounder Evan Link should win his third title, beating Ligonier Valley's returning district champ Josh Patrick. Tyrone's Ronnie Garbinsky is a heavy favorite to win the 135-pound title, beating Huntingdon's Chris Shope for his fourth district crown, and the Golden Eagle is my pick for Outstanding Wrestler.
Central Cambria's undefeated second seed Tony Risaliti is the pick here to beat Huntingdon's Nick Marter at 152. A two-time state qualifier, Portage's David Kephart should finally win a district title that has eluded him, beating West Branch's Chad Speigle at 189.
Cambria Heights' Ryan Dupas (103) and Central Cambria's Shane Morris (285) should also make the finals, but they'll run into some stiff competition once there. Dupas will face Ligonier Valley's Justin Patrick, and Morris gets Richland's returning state champion John Rizzo.
Should be interesting. Here's a closer look at the picks:
103 POUNDS: Finalists: Justin Patrick, Ligonier Valley vs. Ryan Dupas, Cambria Heights. Champion: Patrick. Comment: Patrick majored Dupas earlier in the season. Huntingdon's Matt Wilson is capable of spoiling Dupas' run.
112 POUNDS: Finalists: Evan Link, Penn Cambria vs. Josh Patrick, Ligonier Valley. Champion: Link. Comment: Link has been on a roll this season, and he should continue rolling in a matchup of returning champs.
119 POUNDS: Finalists: Kie Brown, Huntingdon vs. James Dodson, Claysburg-Kimmel. Champion: Brown. Comment: Bellwood-Antis' Jared Woomer could prevent a rematch of the Thomas Tournament finals.
125 POUNDS: Finalists: Ty Dively, Claysburg-Kimmel vs. Ben Rager, Central Cambria. Champion: Dively. Comment: These two are very evenly matched, and it could be a barn burner, but giving the edge to Dively.
130 POUNDS: Finalists: Cole Claar, Claysburg-Kimmel vs. Nick Szala, Penn Cambria. Champion: Claar. Comment: Tyrone's third-seeded Dylan Weston could play spoiler on Szala's side of the bracket.
135 POUNDS: Finalists: Ronnie Garbinsky, Tyrone vs. Chris Shope, Huntingdon. Champion: Garbinsky. Comment: Shope is a dangerous wrestler, but he'll get a big test in the semifinals against Juniata's Brandon Rowles.
140 POUNDS: Finalists: Blake Morder, Mount Union vs. Richard Brydon, Forest Hills. Champion: Morder. Comment: Wow, what a weight. Penn Cambria's Justin Miller and Blairsville's Noah Tarr could make title runs also.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Zach Beitz, Juniata vs. Corey Aungst, Claysburg-Kimmel. Champion: Beitz. Comment: Aungst will give everything he has, but he'll come up a little short with the former state runner-up.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Nick Marter, Huntingdon vs. Tony Risaliti, Central Cambria. Champion: Risaliti. Comment: Marter will get a big test against Mount Union's Cole Boozel in the semifinals.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Dylan Treaster, Juniata vs. John Blankenship, United. Champion: Blankenship. Comment: Treaster's focus will be tested after his cousin Tad's death, and Blankenship is a tough wrestler.
171 POUNDS: Finalists: Christopher Gallaher, Forest Hills vs. Cody Miller, Juniata. Champion: Gallaher. Comment: Huntingdon's dangerous Alex Miller could knock off Cody Miller in the semifinals. Is Gallaher healthy enough?
189 POUNDS: Finalists: David Kephart, Portage vs. Chad Speigle, West Branch. Champion: Kephart. Comment: Mo Valley's James Stodart or Huntingdon's Nathan Shope could stop Speigle's run to the finals.
215 POUNDS: Finalists: Elliot Dillon, Penns Valley vs. Shaquille Howard, United. Champion: Dillon. Comment: Yeah, Jeff Meier is back, but something tells me Howard has the stuff to beat him in the semis.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: John Rizzo, Richland vs. Shane Morris, Central Cambria. Champion: Rizzo. Comment: Two pretty good football players and wrestlers, but Rizzo beat Morris, 9-5, earlier in the season.
OUTSTANDING WRESTLER: Ronnie Garbinsky, Tyrone
TEAM CHAMPION: Claysburg-Kimmel. Comment: Feels like as good of a guess as any other one.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org