It was clear from the start of the District 6 Class AA Tournament that Juniata wanted to pay tribute to Tad Treaster, the 17-year-old 125-pounder who died on the Sunday before the districts at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.
Wrestlers and fans wore t-shirts remembering Treaster. On one side, there was his name, the year he was born and the year he died. On the back were the words "Gone but not forgotten."
There was a moment of silence Friday morning and before the championship finals for Treaster and Penn Cambria's Joey Stoy, who died in a car accident on Oct. 12. It was a nice gesture by the district to recognize the fallen wrestlers.
By the finals, the Indians had all but locked up the team title. They were either leading or near the top of the standings for most of their first District 6 Tournament since moving from District 3, winning the tournament by six points, 186.5-180.5, over Forest Hills.
They seemed to wrestle with a sense of purpose. The Indians, who came in third in the District 6 Duals, were inspired, and they were determined they were going to win this one for Treaster.
They finished with a champion in 145-pounder Zach Beitz, who beat Claysburg-Kimmel's Corey Aungst, 5-4, in the finals, and three runners-up in Brandon Rowles (135), Dylan Treaster (160), who is Tad's cousin, and Cody Miller (171).
But, their title can be traced deeper than that. Ask any coach and they'll say to win a tournament, they'll have to do well in the consolation rounds, and Juniata certainly did. Twelve of their 13 wrestlers won at least two bouts.
Many, including me, wondered how Juniata would react wrestling after attending Thursday's funeral. Would the Indians be out of it emotionally and not ready to wrestle or would they be inspired and want to make a statement.
They certainly made a statement.
Time will be adjusted
The four-hour break between sessions on Friday went over like a led balloon among fans, but tournament director Bill Reimer, assures us that won't happen again next season.
"The schedule will be adjusted," Reimer said. "I think we're going to start at 9:30 and have the quarters at 5:30."
This year's tournament started at 9 a.m., and the quarterfinals started at 6:30 p.m. The consolations ended around 2:30, so fans had to leave the building and wait for the doors to open at 5:30.
Reimer said the problems were the lack of numbers at some of the weights, particularly at 103, 112 and 135 and six of the weights had to be reseeded. He said he won't wait until he sees the numbers of the wrestlers at the weights next season.
"This year, the first three weights had less than 16 people," he said. "The pigtail rounds took about 50 minutes, and normally it takes and hour-and-a-half."
He couldn't adjust the schedule on Friday because the times was already made public.
A first for Bearcats
Huntingdon coach Jon Mykut was voted District 6 Coach of the Year by his peers. It's the first time a Huntingdon coach has been voted Coach of the Year.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org