All right, wrestling fans, the district tournaments are when it starts to get a lot more intense, and focus is key to get through some weight classes as deep as the snow outside of the AAHS Fieldhouse and win a title.
The most focused wrestler in the District 6 Class AA Tournament this weekend might be Cambria Heights' Joe Davis, who wants to finally get that monkey off of his back and win a title after losing in the finals the previous two years.
It certainly won't be easy for Davis because the 126-pound weight class is arguably the toughest and deepest in the tournament. Eight of the first nine seeded guys have at least 18 wins, the top four are Southwest Regional qualifiers and the ninth-seeded guy, Juniata's Richie Gilson, placed sixth at 120 last season.
Mirror file photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Cambria Heights’ Levi Niebauer (right) will compete at districts this weekend at 160 pounds.
Davis pointed out earlier this week that he has some close wins over the top guys, and looking at the weight, he might have to win some close ones against Central's Ethan Kennedy and Central Cambria's Tom Opdenhoff. And Richland's top-seeded Adam George might have to win some close ones over Gilson and either Huntingdon's Matt Wilson or Mount Union's Jake Boozel.
As I kick off my postseason picks, I can see Davis, who is still rounding into form after breaking his leg during football season, surviving the early rounds, beating George in the finals and winning his first district title.
I was tempted to pick Davis as the Outstanding Wrestler because it's the toughest weight, but I've put enough pressure on him this week, so I'm going with Huntingdon's Collin Glorioso.
Starting time changed
Due to Thursday's winter storm, the start of the District 6 Class AA Tournament has been moved back from 10:30 a.m. to noon today at the AAHS Fieldhouse.
Glorioso, ranked second by Off the Mat at 113, has been dominant in most of his bouts, and he should be again this weekend. His opponent should be Central freshman Brock Biddle, who only has two losses this season, and one of them was to Glorioso, 14-2.
The 113-pound bout is one of three finals I see with an all-area matchup. The 106-pound final should feature a clash between rivals in Central Cambria freshman Max Murin and Penn Cambria's Nolan Link. Murin is 2-0 in their meetings, and he will likely win again.
The other all-area matchup is at 132, where Huntingdon's Devon Green and Moshannon Valley's Bryce Bloom will come out of another deep weight to tangle in the finals. The pick here is Green, although there's a number of guys who could win the weight.
Huntingdon's Jacob Oliver (145), Cambria Heights' Levi Niebauer (160) and Tyrone's Jared Beckwith (195) are also picks to claim titles. If Beckwith can do it after missing last year's tournament with a kidney injury following an automobile accident, that would be a nice story.
Central's Nick Hoenstine (138), Huntingdon's Matt Norris (182) and Heights' Aaron Gill (285) are good bets to make the finals, but settle for second.
Huntingdon should win its first District 6 title, but the Bearcats won't run away with it. Defending champion West Branch and Mount Union will put presssure on them throughout the tournament.
Should be interesting. Overall, area wrestlers should do better than last year. Here's the rest of the picks:
106 POUNDS: Finalists: Max Murin, Central Cambria vs. Nolan Link, Penn Cambria. Champion: Murin. Comment: Link will get tested in the semifinals by West Branch's second-seeded Couteret, but he'll earn a third match against Murin.
113 POUNDS: Finalists: Collin Glorioso, Huntingdon vs. Brock Biddle, Central. Champion: Glorioso. Comment: Biddle has certainly made a name for himself as a freshman, and he should make the finals by getting past Westmont's third-seeded Blackburn, who swapped seeds Wednesday with West Branch's now fourth-seeded Sankey.
120 POUNDS: Finalists: Triston Law, Forest Hills vs. Sage Moist, Mount Union. Champion: Law. Comment: Tempted to pick Huntingdon freshman Scott to make the finals, but Moist did beat him, 3-1, in the dual meet.
126 POUNDS: Finalists: Adam George, Richland vs. Joe Davis, Cambria Heights. Champion: Davis. Comment: Eight of the first nine seeded guys at this weight have at least 18 wins, so the battles at this weight will be intense.
132 POUNDS: Finalists: Devon Green, Huntingdon vs. Bryce Bloom, Moshannon Valley. Champion: Green. Comment: Tyrone's Aleic Hunter and Bloom were both bracket busters last year at 126, and they very well could go it again. Good semis between Green and Hunter and Bloom and Penn Cambria's second-seeded Zach Stevens shaping up.
138 POUNDS: Finalists: Brandon Heberling, Marion Center vs. Nick Hoenstine, Central. Champion: Heberling. Comment: Hoenstine and Tyrone's Jason Schopp have split their meetings this year, so the semifinal should be pretty interesting.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Jacob Oliver, Huntingdon vs. Nick Naglic, Richland. Champion: Oliver. Comment: If West Branch's Bumbarger were healthy, I'd pick him to make the finals, but he's not. That's a tough side of the weight, by the way. PC's Mike Eckenrode is the seventh seed.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Andrew Doak, Blairsville vs. Seth Decker, Penns Valley. Champion: Doak. Comment: Decker lost to Blairsville's Noah Tarr in last year's 145-pound final. Huntingdon's Jon Wagner will give him a test in semis.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Dylan Smith, Mount Union vs. Levi Niebauer, Cambria Heights. Champion: Niebauer. Comment: This weight is loaded and includes Penn Cambria pinner Jake Driskel on Smith's side and Huntingdon's third-seeded Eric Lynn on Niebauer's side.
170 POUNDS: Finalists: Nico Pecora, Richland vs. Corey Hazel, Penns Valley. Champion: Pecora. Comment: Very tempted to pick Huntingdon's Logan Fisher over Hazel in the semis. Also, Bellwood's Nick Torsell will be very focused in other bracket.
182 POUNDS: Finalists: Scott Thompson, Blairsville vs. Matt Norris, Huntingdon. Champion: Thompson. Comment: Cambria Heights' sixth-seeded Dennis Link could be a bracket buster against Juniata's Foster in quarters and Norris in the semis.
195 POUNDS: Finalists: Jared Beckwith, Tyrone vs. Tyler Oliver, United. Champion: Beckwith. Comment: The third clash between these two should be a good one. Interesting that Mount Union's second-seeded Devon Kylor had wrestled most of the season at 170.
220 POUNDS: Finalists: Buzzy Maines, West Branch vs. Seth McLendon, United. Champion: Maines. Comment: Very interesting semifinal matchup between McLendon, who transferred from Penn Cambria, and PC's second-seeded John Wilkinson. McLendon was at 220 last year, and Wilkinson was at 285.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Nikolas Smith, Mount Union vs. Aaron Gill, Cambria Heights. Champion: Smith. Comment: Moshannon Valley's Jack Bunnell and West Branch's defending champ Morgan Selepack could halt this matchup in the semifinals on their respective sides.
OUTSTANDING WRESTLER: Collin Glorioso, Huntingdon.
TEAM CHAMPION: Huntingdon. Comment: The Bearcats won't get as many finalists as the seeds say, but their overall balance will hold off West Branch and Mount Union.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.