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Commentary: AAHS’ Brandt likely to win­

February 21, 2013
By Todd Irwin ( , The Altoona Mirror

When wrestling fans look back at the 2013 District 6 Class AAA Tournament in 10 years, there will be some things that stick in their minds like:

n Bald Eagle Area's 182-pounder Jake Taylor beginning his state championship run.

n T.J. Brandt becoming the first Altoona wrestler to win four district titles.

n Mifflin County winning its first District 6 team title.

Well, you know Brandt is what local area fans will be talking about. They'll talk about how he made history, breezing to a fourth title with power, quickness and skills no opponent have been able to come close to. Brandt is 8-0 with six pins, a technical fall and a major decision in three previous district tournaments.

There is no reason to believe he won't steamroll through the tournament again, and I almost picked him to win the Outstanding Wrestler award, but I think he'll be edged out by the undefeated and nationally ranked Taylor.

One trivia question fans will ponder in 10 years is who did Brandt face in the 138-pound finals? The pick here is Philipsburg-Osceola junior Caleb Shively, who should be able to get past Bald Eagle Area's Joe Powers in the semifinals and reach his first district title bout.

D.J. Hollingshead and Brandt have been a lethal 1-2 punch for the Mountain Lions again this season, and Hollingshead should capture the 132-pound title. If it weren't for Hollingshead being at the rugged 120-pound class last season, he would be on his way to a four-year run.

After Bellefonte's Tom Traxler beat him, 4-1, in last year's finals, Traxler told the Centre Daily Times, "He's definitely one of the toughest freshmen I have wrestled in a long time." Traxler has graduated, so the pick here is Hollingshead to beat Mifflin County senior Lucas Besch in the finals.

Hollidaysburg's Damian Huff battled through a rugged 106-pound weight class last season to finish fourth, and then he took at the Northwest Regional to qualify for the PIAA Championships. It's not as deep this year in the district tournament, but even it was, he'd probably win. He's been on a roll this season, and he should claim the 106-pound title by beating Bellefonte's promising sophomore Luke Leathers.

Four other area wrestlers should make the finals and have to settle for second, including Huff's teammate, Matt Barton. The 285-pounder will have to find a solution for Bellefonte's Garrett Poorman, who is the top seed. Poorman pinned Barton in their last meeting.

Altoon's Markief Knode (160) and Mante Barnes (195) should also make the finals, as should P-O's Brian Evans (126). I can't count out P-O 170-pounder Jay Prentice, whose hard-charging style could get him to the finals.

The team race will likely be a tight battle, much like the Class AA team race was. And like that one, which was won by West Branch, a new champion will be crowned in Mifflin County.

Here's the rest of my picks:

106 POUNDS: Finalists: Damian Huff, Hollidaysburg vs. Luke Leathers, Bellefonte. Champion: Huff. Comment: Leathers could get stiff test from Mifflin County's Wilson in the semifinals.

113 POUNDS: Finalists: Travis Giedroc, Bald Eagle Area vs. Keenan Bottorf, Central Mountain. Champion: Giedroc. Comment: Bottorf, who lost to Giedroc, 6-4, earlier, will knock off Mifflin County's Hidlay in semis.

120 POUNDS: Finalists: Trevor Corl, Bellefonte vs. Isaac Underhill, Mifflin County. Champion: Corl. Comment: Underhill pinned State College's Sills earlier in season. They'll meet in semis.

126 POUNDS: Finalists: Noah Stewart, Mifflin County vs. Brian Evans, Philipsburg-Osceola. Champion: Stewart. Comment: Evans should be able to survive semifinal against Bellefonte's Rosenberger.

132 POUNDS: Finalists: D.J. Hollingshead, Altoona vs. Lucas Besch, Mifflin County. Champion: Hollingshead. Comment: Interesting matchup between Besch and State's Kauffman in semis.

138 POUNDS: Finalists: T.J. Brandt, Altoona vs. Caleb Shively, Philipsburg-Osceola. Champion: Brandt. Comment: Shively will survive semifinal against BEA's Powers to face Brandt.

145 POUNDS: Finalists: Brandon Wilson, Mifflin County vs. Derek Horner, State College. Champion: Wilson. Comment: Wilson and Horner are certainly the top guys at this weight.

152 POUNDS: Finalists: Chad Reese, Central Mountain vs. Joe Knarr, Mifflin County. Champion: Reese. Comment: Knarr will get past Hollidaysburg's Walls in semifinals.

160 POUNDS: Finalists: Gavin Caprio, Central Mountain vs. Markief Knode, Altoona. Champion: Caprio. Comment: This one will be a good one.

170 POUNDS: Finalists: Nick Shawley, Bellefonte vs. Devin Stacey, Central Mountain. Champion: Shawley. Comment: Shawley was the Outstanding Wrestler in last year's tournament wrestling at 195.

182 POUNDS: Finalists: Jake Taylor, Bald Eagle Area vs. Blaze Buckwalter, Central Mountain. Champion: Taylor. Comment: Going to be a good night for the Taylor family. Jake's dad, Doug, is going into the district Hall of Fame.

195 POUNDS: Finalists: Aaron Varner, Bald Eagle Area vs. Mante Barnes, Altoona. Champion: Varner. Comment: These two are the only guys with winning records at the weight.

220 POUNDS: Finalists: Nathan Sharkey, Bald Eagle Area vs. Cameron Porter, Central Mountain. Champion: Sharkey. Comment: Interesting semifinal between Porter and Mifflin County's Kahley.

285 POUNDS: Finalists: Garrett Poorman, Bellefonte vs. Matt Barton, Hollidaysburg. Champion: Poorman. Comment: Semifinal between Barton and Altoona's Rosenberry will be the third time they've wrestled this season.

OUTSTANDING WRESTLER: Jake Taylor, Bald Eagle Area.

TEAM CHAMPION: Mifflin County. Comment: Central Mountain and Bald Eagle Eagle Area will battle the Huskies for the top spot, but the District 6 Dual Meet champs will win.

LAST WEEK'S DISTRICT 6 AA RECORD: 17 out of 30 correct situations.

Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.

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