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Irwin: Bedford-Ridge match was dual meet of the year

March 18, 2012
By Todd Irwin ( , The Altoona Mirror

From Chestnut Ridge dealing with the death of a team member to Bedford winning its fifth straight District 5 Duals title to Claysburg-Kimmel winning the Southwest Regional Tournament, it was quite a wrestling season around here.

While area wrestlers came up short of winning a state title, there were other highlights to the season. Here's some of them:

Postseason performances of the year: This is a tie among the group of Central Cambria's Tony Risaliti, Claysburg-Kimmel's Ty Dively and Tyrone's Dylan Weston.

Risaliti was voted the Outstanding Wrestler at the District 6 Tournament after beating Forest Hills' friend and workout partner Cody Law, 7-4, in the 160-pound finals. Law had beaten Risaliti twice during the regular season.

Dively might have been voted OW at the Southwest Regional if there was an award given. Dively finished fourth at the rugged 138-pound weight class at the District 6 Tournament, but he beat Penn Cambria's district champ Nick Szala in the semifinals and Blairsville's third-placer Noah Tarr in the finals.

Weston finished fourth at the Southwest Regional, but he made a run at the state finals a week later. Weston survived an ultimate tiebreaker win in his first bout, knocked off Forest Hills' District 6 runner-up Richard Brydon, 5-3, in the quarterfinals and lost a 3-2 decision in the semifinals to Hughesville's Kyle Barnes in a bout in which one Weston takedowns was waved off and another could have been called.

Dual meet of the year: That would have to be the second Bedford-Chestnut Ridge match. The first one, a 59-16 Bedford blowout, was far less memorable. They met again in the finals of the District 5 Duals, and this time every bout, every point seemed important, and Bedford won, 29-24.

Bedford had a 26-24 lead going into the grueling final bout, which just happened to pit Thomas Subaru Tournament champions against each other in Bedford's 182-pound champ Michael Brett and Ridge's 195-pound champ Dan Albright. Brett slipped through two Albright cradle attempts, amid the deafening roars of the crowd at Bedford to win, 8-6.

It was the fifth straight District 5 Duals title for the Bisons.

Story of the year: Chestnut Ridge handled the death of Brian Corle remarkably, and the Lions, coach Greg Lazor and his staff should be commended for it. They came up ways to remember Corle, from pointing upward as they took the mat to shirts with his initials. And they didn't back away from talking about Corle, which they also should be commended for.

The Lions won the District 5 individual tournament for the first time since 1983.

A return to winning: Philipsburg-Osceola hadn't had a winning season since the 2000-2001 team went 15-3, but the Mounties, under the direction of coach Tim McCamley, went 15-3 this season and qualified eight wrestlers for the Northwest Regional.

Best individual rivalry: Risaliti and Law's battles were memorable, and Law won three of the four, but there was also the Easter-Crouse bouts. The freshman Crouse beat Easter twice during season, but Easter beat him in the District 5 finals.

District coaches of the year: Lazor was voted District 5 Coach of the Year by the coaches, and Cambria Heights' Mike Eckenrode were voted District 6 Class AA Coach of the Year by the coaches. Both were well deserved.

I emphasize coaches voted for them because a recent writer of a letter in the Voice of the Fan page in the Mirror sports section was incorrect about who voted Eckenrode Coach of the Year. Perhaps he should have gotten his facts straight before writing such a venomous letter about a good guy and coach.

Looking forward

There will be things I'll be looking forward to seeing happening next season. Consider some of them.

n I'd like to see somebody win a state title. Bedford's two-time medalist Ryan Easter would seem to have the best shot, but don't count out his nemesis, Chestnut Ridge's Trent Crouse and two-time state qualifier Tyler Dibert either.

Watch out for Claysburg-Kimmel's two-time state qualifier Josh Brown, Altoona's three-time Class AAA qualifier T.J. Brandt and promising freshman D.J. Hollingshead, Tyrone's state qualifier Jared Beckwith, Moshannon Valley state qualifier James Stodart and Hollidaysburg 285-pounder Matt Barton.

n I want to see the return of one mat for the state finals. With four mats going, much of the focus was taken away from the championship bout. The PIAA got pounded by media, fans and coaches across the state, so maybe it will be changed next season.

n The Altoona Fieldhouse should have wireless internet. Richland and Bedford have it, just to name a couple of schools, as well as the Cambria County War Memorial, where the Southwest Regional Tournament is wrestled. It would be a big help for reporters, who have to leave the gym to email results and stories.

Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin10.

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