Stodart has clear path
Moshannon Valley’s James Stodart has 109 career wins, and is eight wins away from tying Ryan Jacoby for the top spot on the school’s all-time win list.
Stodart should cut that margin in half this weekend in the District 6 Class AA Tournament.
The Black Knight senior is the clear favorite to win the 195-pound weight class, especially after the Tyrone School District declared second-seeded D.J. Wunder academically ineligible in a real head scratcher on Wednesday.
Stodart has been hammering his opponents since losing two December bouts, and his 3-1 win over Wunder on Jan. 19 was one of his closer meetings. The differing wrestling and body styles of the two would have been fun to watch in the finals, but, alas, it wasn’t to be.
Instead, as I kick off my postseason picks, I’m picking Stodart to beat Penns Valley’s Maverick Swartz in the finals for his second straight district title, which hasn’t been done by a Mo Valley wrestler since Ray Albright won in 1984 and 1985. Stodart beat Swartz, 11-0, in the dual meet, but the finals bout will likely be a little closer.
Stodart’s teammate, 220-pounder Jake Ludwig, could make even more history if he follows Stodart with his own title. The Knights haven’t had multiple champions since 1989.
Ludwig could very well do it, but his path to the finals will have to go through West Branch’s Buzzy Maines, who beat the Black Knight earlier in the season. I think he’ll be able to do it, especially with Maines a little banged up, but I don’t think he’ll be able to get by Westmont Hilltop’s top-seeded Don Shovestull.
Ludwig ran into Richland’s three-time state champion John Rizzo in the finals last year, so nerves probably won’t be an issue, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won.
The area’s second district title will likely come from Cambria Heights 285-pounder Aaron Gill, who has had a breakout season. Gill will likely get a rematch with West Branch’s Morgan Selepack, whom the Heights junior beat in the Thomas Subaru Tournament finals, 1-0, and in the first-round District 6 Duals doubleheader at West Branch, 8-4.
Bellwood-Antis’ Keith Shawley is seeded third at the weight, but he moved up to 285 for the postseason. It will be interesting to see if the move gets Shawley to the Southwest Regional.
It will be a little leaner district tournament for area wrestlers. I’m picking three other wrestlers to make the finals, but fall there.
Huntingdon 106-pounder Collin Glorioso, Claysburg-Kimmel 113-pounder Josh Brown and Cambria Heights 120-pounder Joe Davis will get to the finals, but settle for second.
The 106-pound pick was a tough one, but I gave the edge to Forest Hills’ Triston Law. The 113-pound and 120-pound titles should go to the Patrick brothers, Justin and Josh. Brown lost to Justin Patrick in the district and regional finals last season, but he did have the LV wrestler on his back at districts, so maybe he’ll find a way to win.
The team title appears to be wide open among a bunch of teams, but I’m giving the slight edge to West Branch. Warriors coach Jason Bainey joked with his team that he’s never had a district finalist and he really wants some. He’ll have a couple, and the Warriors might just win the tournament.
Should be interesting. Here’s the rest of the picks:
106 POUNDS: Finalists: Triston Law, Forest Hills vs. Collin Glorioso, Huntingdon. Champion: Law. Comment: Wow, tough one to pick. I’ve been very impressed with Glorioso, but Law has been at 113 or 120 most of the year and has beaten Hollidaysburg’s Damian Huff.
113 POUNDS: Finalists: Justin Patrick, Ligonier Valley vs. Josh Brown, Claysburg-Kimmel. Champion: Patrick. Comment: Up-and-coming Central freshman Kale Burket could test Brown in the semifinals. Brown beat him, 8-4, recently.
120 POUNDS: Finalists: Josh Patrick, Ligonier Valley vs. Joe Davis, Cambria Heights. Champion: Patrick. Comment: Davis will survive a semifinal bout against Tyrone’s second-seeded Jason Schopp to return to the finals.
126 POUNDS: Finalists: Dison Myers, Southern Huntingdon vs. Jake Boozel, Mount Union. Champion: Myers. Comment: Bottom half of the bracket is loaded with wrestlers who could make finals, including Mo Valley’s seventh-seeded Bryce Bloom.
132 POUNDS: Finalists: Mike Walsh, Westmont Hilltop vs. Brennon Shields, Southern Huntingdon. Champion: Walsh. Comment: This is a loaded weight class. Walsh was a Class AAA runner-up last year, and Shields was a district and regional runner-up.
138 POUNDS: Finalists: Sean Heggs, Juniata vs. Nick Naglic, Richland. Champion: Naglic. Comment: Huntingdon’s Jon Wagner and Central’s Nick Hoenstine could stop Heggs. West Branch’s Parker Bumbarger is a threat in the bottom bracket.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Noah Tarr, Blairsville vs. Seth Decker, Penns Valley. Champion: Tarr. Comment: Tarr came in third last season at 138, which was by far the toughest weight class. Decker has some big wins.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Andrew Doak, Blairsville vs. Phil Crook, Marion Center. Champion: Doak. Comment: Watch out for Cambria Heights’ Levi Niebauer on Crook’s side of the bracket.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Cody Law, Forest Hills vs. Corey Hazel, Penns Valley. Champion: Law. Comment: The Penn State recruit Law is clearly the best here, but some, like Bellwood-Antis’ Nick Torsell, could slow down Hazel.
170 POUNDS: Finalists: Lucas Kristofits, West Branch vs. Zack Pinkas, Forest Hills. Champion: Pinkas. Comment: Another loaded weight class. Portage’s Cody Kephart and Mount Union’s Cory Kylor are among those who could slip through bottom bracket.
182 POUNDS: Finalists: Scott Thompson, Blairsville vs. Mike Rogers, Penns Valley. Champion: Thompson. Comment: Returning state sixth-placer Thompson recently came back from a broken wrist. Heights pinner Tyler Crawford will face him in semis.
195 POUNDS: Finalists: Champion: James Stodart, Moshannon Valley vs. Maverick Swartz, Penns Valley. Comment: Huntingdon pinner Mitchell Lauer could upset Swartz’ run to the finals.
220 POUNDS: Finalists: Don Shovestull, Westmont Hilltop vs. Jake Ludwig, Moshannon Valley. Champion: Shovestull. Comment: Ludwig could get West Branch’s banged up Buzzy Maines in semis. Penn Cambria’s Seth McLendon is a threat.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Aaron Gill, Cambria Heights vs. Morgan Selepack, West Branch. Champion: Gill. Comment: Wouldn’t it be interesting if Richland’s Matt Moose and Blairsville’s Ben Mountain wrestled in finals?
OUTSTANDING WRESTLER: Cody Law, Forest Hills.
TEAM CHAMPION: West Branch. Comment: Standings will be very close, and Penns Valley, Mount Union, Huntingdon and Blairsville, among others, have shots.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at email@example.com. He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.