Irwin: D-6 Class AAA tourney not what it used to be

One of the bigger topics fans and media were talking about at the Altoona Fieldhouse this past weekend was the District 6 Class AAA Tournament is certainly not what it used to be.

Those of a certain age can remember when the tournament had 16 teams and there was a lot of depth at the weight classes. Even older veterans of the tournament can probably remember that number being higher.

But through the years, because of declining population, teams like Cambria Heights, Central Cambria, Huntingdon, Ligonier Valley, Penn Cambria, Somerset and, just recently, Westmont Hilltop, moved to Class AA. Indian Valley and Lewistown merged to become Mifflin County. Johnstown Vo-Tech dropped the sport.

So, now the tournament is down to nine teams.

At eight of the weights, at least half of the wrestlers had losing records. Some of the weights were missing the district’s best wrestlers, including Philipsburg-Osceola 106-pounder Chris Thompson and 145-pounder Andrew Greenawalt, who probably would have been second seeds if not for knee injuries.

State College’s third-seeded 132-pounder Mike Kauffman was a late scratch. That was one of four scratches that left the tournament with no preliminary bouts and just the quarterfinal round being wrestled on the first night. Last year, there were six preliminary and first-round consolation bouts.

There has been criticism in the past about District 9, which has five teams, but advanced three wrestlers at every weight to the Northwest Regional. I’ve been saying for years that District 6 and 9 should merge for a district tournament. The districts did do that from 1938 to 1953.

This year, District 9 combined with District 4 to form a nine-team tournament.

District 6 Tournament director Bill Reimer says there are no plans right now to merge with another district. If District 6 did merge with 4 and 9, that would make it an 18-team tournament, and a new venue would probably have to be found.

The District 6 Class AA Tournament has 25 teams, but Altoona has no school on that Friday because of the President’s Day weekend. School is still in session on the first day for the Class AAA tournament. The Class AAA tournament would have to be moved, possibly Central Mountain, which has a big gym but isn’t centrally located.

There’s also no plans on the table to hold the tournament in one day. The tournament was held on one day in 2010 because of the postponement of the first day due to winter weather. One problem from that, however, was one consolation bout had to be wrestled the next day at Rec Hall because of a PIAA rule that says you can’t wrestle more than five bouts in a day.

The district also lost money from admission and concession sales it would have made on Friday of that year. Reimer pointed out that wrestling, football and basketball are the only revenue-making sports in the district.

Maybe next year there will be more depth at the weights, and it will be more competitive.

Maybe that will help ease the longing for those past glory days.

Dibert takes 4th in stride

It was a great weekend for Altoona’s T.J. Brandt, who won his fourth District 6 Class AAA title, and Chestnut Ridge’s Tyler Dibert, who claimed his fourth District 5 crown.

Dibert says he took the milestone in stride and didn’t get too emotional about it.

“I didn’t want to be overzealous in my reaction,” he said. “When you win, you have to be gracious, and when you lose, you can’t throw a fit. I guess there was some relief when I won.”

Dibert was the first since Lester McLucas in 1961 to win four for Ridge.

“I spent most of my time [Saturday night and Sunday] with my family, and I think they reminded me about 100 times,” he said.

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