The two bouts between Bedford's Ryan Easter and Chestnut Ridge's Trent Crouse have been tight, intense and ultimately won by Crouse, 6-4, in overtime in the Thomas Subaru Tournament finals and 1-0 in the District 5 Duals finals match.
Many will be looking forward to seeing if the poised and talent-filled freshman Crouse can knock off the returning district champion, Southwest Regional runner-up and state tournament fifth-placer Easter for a third time.
Okay, maybe not everybody. Northern Bedford's Mason Replogle would like to see what he can do against Easter. Replogle fell behind Crouse early in the dual meet matchup, but the lanky Panther dominated from the top position in the second period and pinned Crouse.
Crouse and Replogle will likely meet again in the semfinals. Crouse has made huge strides in his first year at the high school level, and I'm picking him to beat Replogle in the semis and Easter in the finals.
That's just two of the intriguing matchups, or potential matchups, in the talent-laden District 5 Tournament. Some of the finalists were pretty hard to figure out in doing my District 5 picks.
In the end, I picked Ridge's Derrick Claar (106), Tyler Dibert (170) and Dan Albright (195), Bedford's Toby Brett (126) and Michael Brett (182) and Northern Bedford's Drew Gartland (138) and Quinton Hixson (285) to capture titles. So that's eight area champions.
Northern Bedford's Cody Guyer (106), Damian Corle (132), Matt Sollenberger (160), Bedford's Garrett Thomas (120), Cody Yingling (170) and Jacob Krupa, Ridge's Shane Pfaunmiller (126) and Everett's Chris Eichelbeger (145) should all make the finals, but fall.
Hixson will likely face Somerset's Jake Hayman in the finals. Hayman is the only foe to beat Hixson this season, but Hixson was sick at the time, was down to 270 and was admittedly nervous. Can a healthy Hixson battle his nerves to win his third district title. I think he will, but I'm not counting out Ridge's Austin Buttry from being Hixson's opponent.
If the District 5 regular season, the District 5 Duals and the Thomas Tournament are any indication, the team race will be a tight one among Ridge, Somerset, Bedford, Conemaugh Township and Berlin Brothersvalley.
In the end, Ridge will edge out Somerset for the team title. Hey, why not? They've been battling all season, so why not this tournament? If Bedford had a healthy Tanner Williams, the Bisons might have been the favorite, but he broke his hand in the PIAA Duals.
North Star's two-time state champ Nick Roberts is the pick here to win his fourth district title and be voted the Outstanding wrestler.
Here's a little closer look at the picks:
106 POUNDS: Finalists: Derrick Claar, Chestnut Ridge vs. Cody Guyer, Northern Bedford. Champion: Claar. Comment: Bedford's Jake Warren will be a stiff test for Claar in the semifinals.
113 POUNDS: Finalists: Ryan Easter, Bedford vs. Trent Crouse. Champion: Crouse. Comment: Crouse has a big match in the semis against NBC's Replogle, who pinned the Ridge freshman in the dual meet.
120 POUNDS: Finalists: Nick Roberts, North Star vs. Garrett Thomas, Bedford. Champion: Roberts. Comment: Third-seeded Thomas has beaten Berlin's second-seeded Miller twice.
126 POUNDS: Finalists: Shane Pfaunmiller, Chestnut Ridge vs. Toby Brett, Bedford. Champion: Brett. Comment: Hyndman's Logsdon could challenge Pfaunmiller in semifinals.
132 POUNDS: Finalists: Stephen McKenzie, Meyersdale vs. Damian Corle, Northern Bedford. Champion: McKenzie. Comment: Corle has been on a roll late in the season, but Mckenzie is a returning champ.
138 POUNDS: Finalists: Drew Gartland, Northern Bedford vs. Blake Miller, Berlin Brothersvalley. Champion: Gartland. Comment: Miller already has a win over Somerset's second-seeded Laue.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Tanner Cahill, Conemaugh Township vs. Chris Eichelberger, Everett. Champion: Cahill. Comment: Eichelberger will have to avenge an OT ultimate tiebreaker loss to Berlin's Fochtman in semis.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Cory Berchick, Conemaugh Township vs. James Otten, Shade. Champion: Berchick. Comment: Very unsure of this pick considering Berchick lost to North Star's Revak in the first round as the first seed last year.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Michael Sutton, Somerset vs. Matt Sollenberger, Northern Bedford. Champion: Sutton. Comment: Sollenberger will battle Sutton in the finals, and I wouldn't be surprised if he won.
170 POUNDS: Finalists: Tyler Dibert, Chestnut Ridge vs. Cody Yingling, Bedford. Champion: Dibert. Comment: Yingling hasn't wrestled Meyersdale's second-seeded Dubar yet, but he should get to the finals.
182 POUNDS: Finalists: Michael Brett, Bedford vs. Jacob Nickelson, Somerset. Champion: Brett. Comment: Nickelson was pinned by Ridge's Dibert in last year's 160-pound finals.
195 POUNDS: Finalists: Dan Albright, Chestnut Ridge vs. Jon Baer, Somerset. Champion: Albright. Comment: Four of Baer's seven losses have come to Albright. Make it No. 5.
220 POUNDS: Finalists: Jacob Krupa, Bedford vs. Jacob Craig, Berlin Brothersvalley. Champion: Craig. Comment: Ridge's Fochtman will keep bout with Craig close in semfinals.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Quinton Hixson, Northern Bedford vs. Jake Hayman, Somerset. Champion: Hixson. Comment: I wouldn't be surprised if Ridge's Buttry beat Hayman in semis.
OUTSTANDING WRESTLER: Nick Roberts, North Star
TEAM CHAMPION: Chestnut Ridge. Comment: Team title won't be decided until late in finals.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed on Twitter @ ToddIrwin1.