Altoona Area High School senior T.J. Brandt will be making his fourth appearance in four seasons at the PIAA Class AAA state wrestling tournament next weekend, and his second straight as a Northwest AAA Regional Tournament champion.
This year's trip to Hershey will be even sweeter for Brandt than the previous three, because he'll be accompanied there by three of his Altoona wrestling teammates.
For the first time in recent or distant memory, Altoona has qualified four wrestlers for the state tournament. Joining Brandt - a 138-pound regional champion - at Hershey will be third-place regional finishers D.J. Hollingshead (132 pounds), Mante Barnes (195) and Austin Rosenberry (285).
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Altoona’s T.J. Brandt acknowledges the crowd at the AAHS Fieldhouse after winning a regional title at 138 pounds.
Also headed to states will be Hollidaysburg's Matt Barton, a regional runner-up at 285 pounds, and Philipsburg-Osceola's Jay Prentice, a third-place regional finisher at 170 pounds.
Brandt (29-3 this season) won the 138-pound regional title in workmanlike fashion Saturday night at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse, logging an 11-0 major decision over McDowell junior Shawn Spearman in the championship match.
Brandt reached the finals with a 4-1 victory over DuBois senior Garrett Brown in Saturday afternoon's semifinals.
"The thing I'm most proud of about T.J. is not the 11 points he scored in the championship match, but the zero points that he allowed,'' Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. "His defense was just as good as his offense, and you need to be great defensively to compete at the state tournament.''
Brandt became Altoona's first four-time District 6-AAA champion earlier this season, and followed up his 126-pound regional championship last year with Saturday's 138-pound title. The fact that he'll be joined at states by three of his good buddies on the wrestling team will make the trip to Hershey that much more enjoyable for him this year.
"I'm so excited, I'm so happy for everybody on our team who qualified,'' Brandt said. "I'm ecstatic. We're all a family here. We honestly are.''
Altoona's wrestling clan acquitted itself extremely well in this season's regional. In Gilbert's 15-year affiliation with the program - including the past six as its head coach - he said he's never seen as many as four Mountain Lions qualify for states.
Former long-time Altoona wrestling coach Marty Rusnak, who was on hand Saturday night, said that he couldn't remember the last year the Mountain Lions qualified four wrestlers for states, but believed it might have been in the program's heyday back in the 1970s.
"The stars were aligned for our team this weekend,'' Gilbert said. "These guys were all on a mission to get to the state tournament, and that mission was accomplished.''
Rosenberry, a senior, was particularly impressive in negotiating the rugged wrestleback rounds Saturday en route to his third-place finish at 285. Rosenberry won four straight matches Saturday, including two by fall, and punched his ticket to Hershey with a 3-1 overtime win over McDowell junior Scot Augustine, a returning state qualifier, in the consolation finals.
Rosenberry reversed Augustine in the third 30-second tiebreaker period to get the emotional victory.
"When I got that reversal, I knew that I could ride him out,'' Rosenberry said. "It's pretty awesome to have four going to states. It's good for the program.''
Hollingshead, a sophomore who has won 34 matches this season, pinned Mifflin County senior Lucas Besch in 3:27 in the third-place match. Hollingshead dropped into the wrestlebacks with an 8-3 loss to eventual regional champ Nick Gibson of McDowell in the semis, before bouncing back to defeat General McLane's Deane Twitchell in the fourth-round consolations.
Hollingshead - a regional qualifier last year as a freshman - had pinned Besch in last weekend's District 6-AAA championship match, but knew there was a lot more on the line in the regional third-place bout.
"I had pinned him in the district finals, but of course there's pressure,'' he said of the do-or-die regional third-place match. "If you don't win, you're not going to the state meet. After not making it last year, I felt good about making it this year.''
Barnes, a senior, started Saturday with a 7-1 loss to eventual 195-pound regional champ Landon Hanna in the semis, but bounced back with two victories, including a 3-2 win over Selinsgrove junior Austin Lewis in the third-place match. Barnes scored a decisive takedown in the match with 34 seconds left.
"I got in on an underhook and popped it up to a single-leg,'' Barnes explained of the winning maneuver. "It feels good to make it to states. I'm glad I faced the tough competition I did this year. It prepared me.''
Hollidaysburg senior Barton also prepared himself well all through the postseason, winning the district championship and his first two matches at regionals before hitting a wall in the form of Central Tech senior Andrew Welton in the 285-pound regional championship match. Welton - a District 10 champ who has lost just one bout all year - tossed Barton to his back and pinned him at the 44-second mark.
"I'm pleased I made it to states this year,'' said Barton, who reached the regional final with a 4-3 win over Clearfield's Jacob Verchick in the semis. "I'm one step closer to my goal, which is medaling at states.''
Hollidaysburg coach Mike Moore saluted Barton for a solid effort at the regional.
"He had a great regional until the final match, when he obviously ran into a very tough kid,'' Moore said.
P-O senior Prentice had a great day Saturday, matching Rosenberry's sizzling performance of four straight wins in the 170-pound wrestlebacks, including a 3-2 victory over Central Mountain senior Devin Stacey in the third-place bout.
"I knew I just had to take one match at a time, and do my best,'' Prentice said. "I worked real hard for this.''
P-O coach Tim McCamley appreciated the performance.
"Winning four matches in one day, with all of them with something on the line, shows what kind of heart that kid has,'' McCamley said.
Meet notes: Hollidaysburg junior Damian Huff made it to the consolation finals at 106, but lost a 4-0 decision to McDowell freshman Charlie Lenox there, and was denied a second straight trip to the state tournament ... P-O's Bryan Descavish (120), Caleb Shively (138), and Nick Gray (220) were eliminated in the second round of consolations Saturday, while P-O's Brian Lumadue (182) was ousted in the fourth-round consys ... Altoona's Markief Knode (160) and Trent Kephart (182) were eliminated in the fourth and third consolation rounds, respectively ... Tom Elling is retiring as the Northwest Regional Tournament director after 26 years. He was recognized with a round of applause Saturday evening.
Northwest Class AAA
Team Standings and Key
1. McDowell, MD, 151.5; 2. General McLane, GM, 144; 3. DuBois, D, 110; 4. Mifflin County, MC, 89; 5. Clearfield, CL, 82.5; 6. Bald Eagle Area, BEA, 80; 7. Altoona, A, 78; 8. Cathedral Prep, CP, 73.5; 9. Central Mountain, CM, 73; 10. Bellefonte, B, 48; 11. Punxsutawney, PX, 42; 12. Philipsburg-Osceola, PO, 29. 13. (tie) Central Tech, CT, Allderdice, AD and Hollidaysburg, H, 28; 16. Shikellamy, SH, 24; 17. St. Marys, SM, 23.5; 18. Warren, W, 22; 19. Jersey Shore, JS, 21.5; 20. Titusville, T, 21; 21. Westinghouse, WE, 17; 22. (tie) Meadville, MEAD and Selinsgrove, SE, 16; 24. Bradford, BRAD, 11; 25. Strong Vincent, SV, 10; 26. Oil City, OC, 9.5; 27. Carrick, CA, 9; 28. Williamsport, WP, 8; 9. State College, SC, 7; 30. Erie East, EE, and Greater Johnstown, GJ, 4; 32. Obama Academy, OA, 3; 33. Brashear, BRAS, 2; 34. Perry, P, 1.
Second Round Consolations
106-Ehrgott, MEAD, maj. dec. Catral, SC, 10-1; Gilbert, CL, dec. Ulmer, JS, 6-4; Gregory, CP, dec. Butler, P, 5-2; Lenox, MD, pinned Leathers, B, 2:27. 113-Mion, CA, dec. Bullers, PX, 3-0; H. Hendricks, GM, pinned Chase, T, 1:51; Swauger, D, pinned Yates, MD, 2:56; Giedroc, BEA, dec. McClarren, CL, 16-12. 120-Lopez, CT, dec. Link, BRAS, 8-7; Cline, CL, pinned Hepler, SH, 4:08; Andrus, CM, dec. Descavish, PO, 12-10; Underhill, MC, tech fall Cox, D, 15-0; 4:38. 126-Zinkovsky, AD, pinned Hill, OA, 1:52; Cousins, MD, pinned Root, CP, 2:18; Stewart, MC, dec. Myers, SC, 3-0; Killion, JS, pinned Winn, SE, 0:44. 132-Kirk, CA, maj. dec. Johnson, P, 10-2; Twitchell, GM, maj. dec. Watt, CM, 10-0; Coletta, CP, dec. Paul, SH, 8-6 OT; Schuckers, PX, dec, Swartwood, JS, 1-0. 138-Coudriet, SM, dec. Yaskoweak, WP, 3-2; Arrington, PX, dec. Shively, PO, 12-11; Stoll, GM, dec. Mancuso, CT, 8-3; Luben, MEAD, pinned Powers, BEA, 2:45. 145-Carlson, SV, pinned Porter, BRAS, 3:25; O'Sullivan, CP, pinned Hargenrader, OC, 4:09; Herman, JS, tech fall Horner, SC, 22-5, 4:45; Yetzer, SM, maj. dec. Bottenhorn, PX, 14-2.
152-Dailey, MD, dec. Jacobson, AD, 11-5; Feldbauer, SM, tech fall Troisi, D, 19-1, 3:36; Deboe, SV, dec. White, GJ, 9-4; Corignani, BRAD, dec. Beck, CL, 5-2. 160-Knode, A, dec. Coles, BRAD, 5-0; Stover, SC, pinned Jackson, WE, 2:41; Kennelly, D, dec. Rohrbach, JS, 2-0; Caprio, CM, pinned Gabor, SM, 0:56. 170-Caviness, OA, pinned Morrissey, BRAS, 0:41; Prentice, PO, maj. dec. Crawford, MEAD, 8-0; Stacey, CM, dec. Cameroni, SM, 10-6; Englehardt, SH, dec. Moonan, BRAD, 8-1. 182-Kephart, A, pinned Wilkins, AD, 2:57; Marshall, D, tech fall Boob, SE, 15-0, 3:49; Lumadue, PO, pinned Bish, MEAD, 1:30; Selker, CP, pinned Henry, W, 4:56. 195-McNeal, W, pinned Betz, CA, 2:52; Langdon, BRAD, pinned Lose, JS, 1:37; Thayer, GM, pinned Guinn, BRAS, 4:43; Long, CM, dec. Brown, CT, 6-1. 220-Kahley, MC, dec. Gray, PO, 3-1 OT; Porter, CM, pinned Reid, CA, 3:17; Baker, GM, dec. Kennedy, WP, 3-2; Fledderman, SM, pinned Streich, SM, 2:52. 285-Augustine, MD, dec. Plott, EE, 5-0; Rhodes, MC, pinned Wolfel, SM, 0:41; Rosenberry, A, pinned Mallory, GM, 1:48; Karpinski, SH, pinned Petitti, D, 4:18.
106-Bloom, D, dec. Huff, H, 2-1; Wheeling, GM, maj. dec. Cooley, WP, 11-1. 113-Gromacki, CP, tech fall Bottorf, CM, 19-2, 4:54; Hidlay, MC, pinned Witherite, B, 4:57. 120-Deitz, MD, dec. Bowers, PX, 3-1; Corl, B, dec. Ciotti, CP, 4-3. 126-Fehlman, W, dec. Graham, CL, 3-1 OT; Young, PX, dec. Watkins, GM, 5-1. 132-Gibson, MD, dec. Hollingshead, A, 8-3; Stone, CL, pinned Besch, MC, 3:46. 138-Brandt, A, dec. Brown, D, 4-1; S. Spearman, MD, dec. Disilvio, AD, 7-6. 145-Nolan, MD, dec. Wilson, MC, 11-4; Barger, CL, pinned Estep, AD, 1:21.
152-Sutton, GM, dec. Knarr, MC, 6-2; Krysiak, CP, dec. Reese, CM, 3-1. 160-Lee, T, dec. Bowers, GM, 3-2; T. Spearman, MD, maj. dec. Zdarko, OC, 13-4. 170-Shawley, B, dec. T. Hendricks, GM, 3-0; Sleigh, D, pinned Rodgers, MD, 3:26. 182-J. Taylor. BEA, maj. dec. Shambach, SH, 15-5; Buckwalter, CM, dec. Laird, GM, 7-3. 195-Hanna, D, dec. Barnes, A, 7-0; Varner, BEA, pinned Lewis, SE, 4:48. 220-Sharkey, BEA, pinned Pepper, SH, 2:38; Christian, WE, dec. Williamson, EE, 6-1 OT TB. 285-Welton, CT, pinned Poorman, B, 0:35; Barton, H, dec. Verchick, CL, 4-3.
106-Ehrgott, MEAD, dec. Gilbert, CL, 4-2; Lenox, MD, pinned Gregory, CP, 3:18. 113-H. Hendricks, GM, pinned Mion, CA, 3:18; Giedroc, BEA, dec. Swauger, D, 6-4 OT. 120-Cline, CL, pinned Lopez, CT, 2:16; Underhill, MC, dec. Andrus, CM, 9-3. 126-Cousins, MD, pinned Zinkovsky, AD, 1:57; Stewart, MC, dec. Killion, JS, 6-0. 132-Twitchell, GM, pinned Kirk, CA, 2:38; Coletta, CP, dec. Schuckers, PX, 4-2. 138-Arrington, PX, maj. dec. Coudriet, SM, 8-0; Luben, MEAD, dec. Stoll, GM, 4-3. 145-O'Sullivan, CP, dec. Carlson, SV, 2-0 OT; Herman, JS, dec. Yetzer, SM, 6-3.
152-Dailey, MD, dec. Feldbauer, SM, 6-4; Deboe, SV, dec. Corignani, BRAD, 6-3. 160-Knode, A, dec. Stover, SC, 4-2; Kennelly, D, dec. Caprio, CM, 2-0. 170-Prentice, PO, maj. dec. Caviness, OA, 11-2; Stacey, CM, dec. Englehardt, SH, 11-4. 182-Marshall, D, dec. Kephart, A, 8-4; Lumadue, PO, dec. Selker, CP, 2-1 OT TB. 195-Langdon, B, pinned McNeal, W, 0:14; Thayer, GM, maj. dec. Long, CM, 10-0. 220-Kahley, MC, dec. Potter, CM, 5-2; Baker, GM, dec. Fledderman, SM, 7-4. 285-Augustine, MD, maj. dec. Rhodes, CM, 9-1; Rosenbery, A, pinned Karpinski, SH, 1:43.
106-Huff, H, dec. Ehrgott, MEAD, 3-2; Lenox, MD, dec. Cooley, WP, 2-0. 113-H. Hendricks, GM, dec. Bottorf, CM, 7-1; Giedroc, BEA, dec, Witherite, B, 8-3. 120-Bowers, PX, dec. Cline. CL, 7-0; Underhill, MC, dec. Ciotti, CP, 2-0 OT TB. 126-Graham, CL, dec. Cousins, MD, 5-1; Watkins, GM, dec. Stewart, MC, 3-0. 132-Hollingshead, A, dec. Twitchell, GM, 8-1; Besch, MC, maj. dec. Coletta, CP, 11-3. 138-Brown, D, dec. Arrington, PX, 4-3; Disilvio, AD, dec. Luben, MEAD, 7-0. 145-Wilson, MC, dec. O'Sullivan, CP, 4-1; Estep, AD, dec. Herman, JS, 5-2.
152-Knarr, MC, dec. Dailey, MD, 8-4; Reese, CM, tech fall Deboe, SV, 16-0, 4:15. 160-Bowers, GM, pinned Knode, A, 2:39; Kennelly, D, dec. Zdarko, OC, 3-2. 170-Prentice, PO, dec. T. Hendricks, GM, 6-3; Stacey, CM, pinned Rodgers, MD, 0:28. 182-Marshall, D, pinned Shambach, SH, 4:29; Laird, GM, dec. Lumadue, PO, 5-0. 195-Barnes, A, dec. Langdon, BRAD, 4-3; Lewis, SE, pinned Thayer, GM, 3:46. 220-Kahley, MC, pinned Pepper, SH, 3:38; Baker, GM, won by disqualification over Williamson, EE, 4:36. 285-Augustine, MD, dec. Poorman, B, 3-2; Rosenberry, A, dec. Verchick, CL, 2-1.
106-Lenox, MD, dec. Huff, H, 4-0. 113-H. Hendricks, GM, dec. Giedroc, BEA, 6-2. 120-J. Bowers, PX, pinned Underhill, MC, 2:43. 126-Graham, CL, dec. Watkins, GM, 7-2. 132-Hollingshead, A, pinned Besch, MC, 3:27. 138-Brown, D, pinned Disilvio, AD, 3:44. 145-Estep, AD, dec. Wilson, MC, 9-2. 152-Reese, CM, dec. Knarr, MC, 1-0. 160-O. Bowers, GM, maj. dec. Kennelly, D, 8-0. 170-Prentice, PO, dec, Stacey, CM, 3-2. 182-Laird, GM, dec. Marshall, D, 5-1. 195-Barnes, A, dec. Lewis, SE, 3-2. 220-Kahley, MC, dec. Baker, GM, 3-2. 285-Rosenberry, A, dec. Augustine, MD, 3-1 OT TB.
106-Wheeling, GM, dec, Bloom, D, 8-4. 113-Gromacki, CP, dec. Hidlay, MC, 8-3. 120-Dietz, MD, dec. Corl, B, 6-4. 126-Young, PX, maj. dec. Fehlman, W, 8-0. 132-Gibson, MD, dec. Stone, 7-4. 138-Brandt, A, maj. dec. S. Spearman, MD, 11-0. 145-Barger, CL, maj. dec. Nolan, MD, 13-5.
152-Sutton, GM, dec. Kysiak, CP, 7-6. 160-T. Spearman, MD, dec. Lee, T, 3-2. 170-Sleigh, D, dec. Shawley, B, 12-5. 182-J. Taylor, BEA, maj. dec. Buckwalter, CM, 13-5. 195-Hanna, D, pinned Varner, BEA, 0:17. 220-Sharkey, BEA, dec. Christian, WE, 3-0. 285-Welton, CT, pinned Barton, H, 0:44.