We're a little late in getting the wrestling page started this year, but it's finally here, and hopefully you enjoy it today and the rest of the season.
One thing I've been enjoying is the start of what could be fantastic careers for some newcomers in the Mirror coverage area. Some first-year guys haven't been intimidated by older wrestlers or those with lengthier resumes.
Here's some who have created a stir already:
Central Cambria's Max Murin: The Red Devils 106 pound freshman had some success at the junior olympic level, but I don't know if anybody expected him to start the season with a 12-0 record.
One of his wins was over Altoona's Cole Manley at the Sheetz Holiday Classic. Manley is a two-time Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling champion and four-time finalist. Murin also beat Penn Cambria junior Nolan Link, a former PJW star who sat out last season because he was too small.
Huntingdon's Jacob Oliver: Oliver won a PJW state title last season, but I expected to take a couple lumps as a freshman middleweight. One wrestling observer told me in the offseason that Oliver was already better than most at 145.
That has been the case as Oliver has been handing out the lumps at 145 pounds. He's off to a 14-0 start and is ranked No. 1 in the Mirror's initial rankings. He was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the Sheetz Classic, and he opened the season with a 7-3 win over Tyrone senior Jason Schopp.
Everett's Devin Reed: Reed is a junior 285-pounder for the Warriors, but this is his first year wrestling for Everett. I don't know what his history is, but he's certainly not wrestling like a rookie.
Reed is 5-0 with three pins, and the other two wins were forfeits. One of his pins was of Moshannon Valley's Jack Bunnell, who finished sixth at the Southwestern Regional last season. Reed is ranked second, just behind our featured wrestler, Chestnut Ridge's Austin Buttry. Should make for an interesting battle in District 5.
Tough early schedule
Three of the top four teams in the Mirror rankings have had pretty tough early-season schedules, including top-ranked Chesnut Ridge, which has wrestled in the Powerade and duals against second-ranked Bedford, Berlin Brothersvalley, Towanda (which handed Ridge a 37-27 loss) and fourth-ranked Philipsburg-Osceola.
Bedford (3-1) has not only wrestled Ridge, it has also taken on North Star, winning 34-32, and competed in the King of the Mountain and Boiling Springs tournaments. P-O's 0-3 record is misleading because it has wrestled Ridge (losing 40-25), Bellefonte (34-27) and Central Mountain (38-18).
Third-ranked Huntingdon, which won the Sheetz Classic and pounded Bald Eagle Area, 54-12, will see stiffer competition down the road starting tonight at Bellefonte. The Bearcats also wrestle Mount Union, Penns Valley and P-O in January.
That type of schedule will get the wrestlers on those teams ready for the rugged wrestling in the postseason tournaments.
To see more excellent coverage of wrestling, I would suggest Tom Elling's Wrestling Handbook, and a subscription to the Pennsylvania Wrestling Newsmagzine. To buy Elling's book, go to his state web site. To get PWN, owned by former Hollidaysburg coach Joe Baranik, go to www.pawrestling.net or send $26.95 to PWN, 409 Mill Road, Duncansville, PA, 16635 with your address information and e-mail.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.