Bethlehem Catholic will be the favorite to win its fourth straight PIAA Team Duals title this weekend. At least one of its regular-season opponents, Palisades, will likely not be rooting for the Golden Hawks to win.
Palisades was to wrestle BC in the District 11 Class AA Duals quarterfinals, but Palisades coach Omar Porrata chose to forfeit all 14 weights to the Hawks, losing 84-0. Palisades had 10 wrestlers and forfeited four weights in a 48-24 win over Jim Thorpe in the Duals first round.
Bethlehem Catholic had weighed in mostly backups for the dual meet, but it wasn't clear if that was the reason Porrata chose to forfeit all the weights or if it was a statement against recruiting done by private schools.
Asked by the Allentown Morning Call immediately afterward to comment on the reason, Porrata said, "I don't think so."
Palisades' fans who made the trip to Catasaqua High School and paid the admission were not amused, but they were all given refunds (about $250 in total).
District 11, the school district and the PIAA were also not amused. The district banned the coach from the tournament - the team did wrestle a consolation match - and scheduled a meeting with him later this month. The school said his status as coach will be reassessed at a later date.
Robert Lombardi, the executive director of the PIAA, said Porrata "violated the intent of the tournament."
This is the first time I've heard anything like this happening in all the years I've been covering wrestling, and it doesn't make sense. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Ridge, Huntingdon set
Chestnut Ridge and Huntingdon have so much team balance that it's hard for opposing teams to make a dent in their armor. They will certainly be tested, though, at the PIAA Duals, which start Thursday in Hershey.
Huntingdon opens with Thomas Subaru Tournament fourth-placer and District 7 runner-up South Fayette, and Reynolds is a likely opponent in the quarterfinals. Reynolds handed Ridge a 43-12 loss in the Ultimate Duals.
Ridge, in the same bracket as Huntingdon, opens with District 4 runner-up Montoursville and could get District 3 champ Boiling Springs in the quarterfinals and District 10 champ Reynolds in the semis..
Bethlehem Catholic, District 7 champ Burrell, which Ridge beat, 31-29, Brookville, which beat Ridge, 41-28, and Towanda, which handed Huntingdon its only loss, 34-31, are in the other bracket.
P-O celebrating 75th
The Philipsburg-Osceola Wrestling Club will be recognizing the 75th anniversary of the program and its wrestlers tonight during the home Clearfield match. All former P-O, Philipsburg and Osceola Mills wrestlers are being invited back, and will be admitted free.
"Unfortunately, we're kind of behind the 8-ball a little bit," said Dave Thompson, a member of the club. "When Coach [Dave] Caslow did the 50th, he had a committee that worked on it for like 18 months. It just kind of landed in our lap that this was the 75th, and we're trying to get a celebration together for the Clearfield match, and we're trying to get as many former wrestlers here as we can."
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.