Unless you're Franklin Regional's three-time Class AAA state champ Nico Megaludis, Wyomissing's two-time Class AA champ and four-time top three placer Nick Hodgkins or Kennard-Dale phenom Chance Marstellar, who is the real deal, nothing is for certain at the PIAA Champiosnhips.
Heck, even Derry Area's three-time champ Jimmy Gulibon was tested in the finals, eking out a 6-5 win over Bethlehem Catholic's Randy Cruz in the 119-pound finals in Class AA.
Bet Lackawanna Trail's returning state champ Eric Laytos didn't think Northern Bedford's Joel Suter would pin him in the first period. I thought Penn Cambria's Evan Link would beat Line Mountain's returning champ Zain Retherford, and he did, but Retherford had to be favored by most going into that semifinal.
Who would have called Link getting pinned by North Star's Nick Roberts in the finals? Link had beaten him twice already. Tyrone's Ronnie Garbinsky losing in the Southwest Regional finals and not making the state semifinals was a shock to me.
All of the uncertainly just points out that this state has some of the toughest wrestling in the nation, and everybody has to be on their game to keep winning and moving on in the postseason.
While there is uncertainty about who will win titles at Hershey, I am certain there are a lot of talented area wrestlers coming back.
Of the 24 area state qualifiers, including a remarkable 21 in Class AA, 11 return in Claysburg-Kimmel's Josh Brown, James Dodson and Ty Dively, Central Cambria's Ben Rager and Tony Risaliti, Altoona's T.J. Brandt, Bedford's Ryan Easter, Northern Bedford's Quinton Hixson, Penn Cambria's Nick Szala, Philipsburg-Osceola's Logan Walstrom and Chestnut Ridge's Tyler Dibert.
All of them are capable of following in Link's footsteps and making the finals, especially the five returning placewinners. Rager, Risaliti, Dively, Easter and Hixson all earned medals and will be looking to get higher up on the podium than they were this year.
It will be interesting to see if Rager, who blew his knee out last year and injured it again in the preseason, and Dively enter next year's postseason at the same weight. Their district finals battle, in which Rager came from behind to win, 9-8, was a memorable one.
Bellwood-Antis' Jared Woomer, who knocked off Shady Side Academy's returning regional champ Philip Elias in the first round at regionals but came up one win short of qualifying for states, will also be returning, as will teammate Trevor Helsley.
There are also talented underclassmen back in Bedford's Garret Thomas, Tanner Williams, Jacob Krupa and Michael Brett, Cambria Heights' Ryan Dupas, Brad Thomas, Ross Inzana and Tyler Crawford, Moshannon Valley's James Stodart, Dylan Ludwig, Logan Cook and the injured Tyler Martin and Hollidaysburg's Damian Huff, Larett Miller and Matt Barton.
There's also P-O's Andrew Greenawalt, Kenny Myers and Jared Smith, Altoona's Mante Barnes and Kawan Butcher, C-K's Nathan Sell and Dylan Weyant, NBC's Drew Gartland and Matt Sollenberger, Northern Cambria's Nolan Paronish, Ridge's Shane Pfaunmiller and Tyrone's Dylan Weston who make state runs.
Add some more from the junior high level and improvement by those at the high school level, and tough wrestling gets tougher.
Dapper Dan set
The lineups for the March 27 Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic have been released, and there were no District 6 or 5 wrestlers picked, but there is a former District 6 guy in it in 140-pounder Evan Henderson, who transferred from United to Kiski School and won two state prep titles.
Megaludis, Hodgkins, Reynolds' two-time champ Mason Beckman and Nazareth's four-time finalist Zach Horan are among those wrestling for Pennsylvania.
All of the wrestlers on the United States team have won at least two titles, including South Dakota 171-pounder Logan Storley, who won six titles and had 263 career wins. Minnesota's Destin McCauley had 286 wins and five titles. Apparently, seventh and eighth-graders can wrestle on high school teams in North Dakota and Minnesota.
California three-time champ Morgan McIntosh, who will likely be Penn State's 197-pounder next season, is on the USA team.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at email@example.com.