Altoona's T.J. Brandt reached the Northwest Regional Class AAA 103-pound finals on a roll last year, but Clearfield's Christian Stone stopped that roll with a 4-2 decision.
It appears Brandt and Stone are on a collision course for the finals again. This time, it's at 112.
This time, though, Brandt should be able to get the job done, but it won't be easy. He's bigger and better than last season and is again rolling after some late-season illness and weight problems.
They have a handful of common opponents, including Line Mountain's returning Class AA champion Zain Retherford. Retherford handed Brandt a 5-0 loss and won by technical fall over Stone.
Give the edge to Brandt, who will be looking to avenge last year's loss.
Brandt, like he was at the District 6 Tournament, will be the only area champion.
It's too bad Altoona's Wendell Myers won't be wrestling in the tournament. Myers was withdrawn from the 135-pound weight class for what Altoona coach Joel Gilbert called "disciplinary reasons." He would have had a good chance at making the finals.
With the Mountain Lion senior out of the picture, Philipsburg-Osceola's Kenny Myers, who lost to Wendell Myers three times, has a good chance of making the finals. He'll need to get by Cathedral Prep's Michael McBryde in the quarterfinals and then, most likely, DuBois' Tom Sleigh in the semifinals.
If he can do that, and the pick here is that he will, he'll fall to Central Mountain's Dillon Gavlock in the finals.
P-O's Logan Walstrom (145) and Hollidaysburg's Damian Lascoli (160) stand good chances at making the finals, but they'll fall a little short in very tough brackets.
I'm picking Central Mountain again to win the team title, but Cathedral Prep, Bald Eagle Area and Clearfield will push the Wildcats for the crown. They seem to have more firepower than the other top teams.
Here's the rest of my picks:
103 POUNDS: Finalists: Jake Gromacki, Cathedral Prep vs. Shane Peters, Clearfield. Champion: Gromacki. Comment: Gromacki beat Peters, 8-4, at the Tool City Tournament.
112 POUNDS: Finalists: T.J. Brandt, Altoona vs. Christian Stone, Clearfield. Champion: Brandt. Comment: Brashear's Godwin Nyama could stop Stone's roll into the finals.
119 POUNDS: Finalists: Josh Polacek, Westmont Hilltop vs. Austin Gillihan, Corry. Champion: Gillihan. Comment: Bellefonte's Tom Traxler can't be counted out of this weight class.
125 POUNDS: Finalists: Kaleb Loht, Indian Valley vs. Malcolm Harris, Johnstown. Champion: Loht. Comment: Punxsutawney's Kody Young will be a big test for Harris in the semifinals.
130 POUNDS: Finalists: Tanner Hough, Westmont Hilltop vs. Nolan Barger, Clearfield. Champion: Hough. Comment: Bellefonte's Leo Wortman is capable of beating Barger, a returning state qualifier.
135 POUNDS: Finalists: Dillon Gavlock, Central Mountain vs. Kenny Myers, Philipsburg-Osceola. Champion: Gavlock. Comment: Myers will get stiff tests in the quarters and semis.
140 POUNDS: Finalists: Scott Bosak, State College vs. Jake Schultz, Lewistown. Champion: Bosak. Comment: Altoona's Jake Hines will get another shot at Bosak in quarters.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Brian Brill, Central Mountain vs. Tyler Parsons, Cathedral Prep. Champion: Brill. Comment: Philipsburg-Osceola's Logan Walstrom can't be counted of a rematch with Brill.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Tyler Buckwalter, Central Mountain vs. Mark Havers, Bradford. Champion: Havers. Comment: DuBois' Geno Morelli and Central Tech's Khlique Harris could make it through the rugged top bracket.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Brad Grieb, Bellefonte vs. Zack Towers, Meadville. Champion: Towers. Comment: Hollidaysburg's Damian Lascoli will certainly challenge Towers in the semifinals.
171 POUNDS: Finalists: Jacob Taylor, Bald Eagle Area vs. Joe Morrison, DuBois. Champion: Taylor. Comment: There's a lot of talent in the bottom bracket.
189 POUNDS: Finalists: Ryan Burnheimer, Westmont Hilltop vs. Nash Walters, Corry. Champion: Burnheimer. Comment: Johnstown's Gervon Simon could beat Walters in semifinals.
215 POUNDS: Finalists: Tyson Searer, Lewistown vs. Aaron Bell, Strong Vincent. Champion: Searer. Comment: Clearfield's Cliff Hill will be a big obstacle for Searer in semis.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Josh Duplin, Westmont Hilltop vs. Zach Corl, Central Mountain. Champion: Duplin. Comment: Duplin finds a way to win, and he's going to need that at a loaded weight.
TEAM CHAMPION: Central Mountain. Comment: The team race will be close again, but the Wildcats take it.
LAST WEEK'S DISTRICT 5 AND 6-AAA RECORD: 38 of 60 correct (20 of 30 in District 6 AAA, 18 of 30 in District 5)
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org