Todd Irwin’s Southwest Regional picks
The 106-pound weight class has been the deepest in the area, and you only have to look at the Mirror rankings to see that. The top five guys – three in Class AA and two in Class AAA – won a combined three titles, and another was a finalist.
It should be no different this weekend in the rugged Southwest Regional Tournament.
In making my Southwest picks, I can easily see Central Cambria Max Murin and Chestnut Ridge’s Aaron Burkett, ranked first and third, respectively in the Mirror rankings, reaching the finals, with Penn Cambria’s fourth-ranked Nolan Link giving Burkett a heck of a bout in the semifinals.
The pick here is Murin will remain unbeaten and beat Burkett. They haven’t wrestled this season, and I’m sure Burkett will finish better than his sixth place in Johnstown last season, but I’m sticking with the rankings and giving the edge to Murin.
The tournament served as a launching pad for Huntingdon’s Collin Glorioso last season, putting together many fantastic performances to win a title after finishing second at districts. Glorioso brings a 34-0 record into the tournament this year, and he should stay unbeaten, but it won’t be easy.
Southmoreland’s Austin Griffiths, who took third in Johnstown last season, is in his bracket, and fourth-placer Austin McDermitt, Bedford’s Johnathan Gabriel and Central Cambria’s Ian Ostrowski are among the guys in the other bracket. While Gabriel could very well survive that bracket and make the finals, I’m going with McDermitt.
And if Glorioso continues to wrestle like he has been, he should take home another title and ride that momentum into Hershey.
Bedford’s Ryan Easter is a three-time regional runner-up who has faced some rugged competition in the finals in those years, losing to Kittanning’s two-time state champ Jason Nolf his first two years and to Ligonier Valley’s Josh Patrick in a 4-3 tiebreaker last year.
Easter will likely face another beast this season in South Fayette’s 37-0 Mike Carr in the 132-pound finals. They wrestled in the Thomas Subaru Tournament finals, and Carr earned a 6-2 win. They’ll probably be closer this time, but, unfortunately for Easter, Carr will win again.
Nolf will likely tangle with either Huntingdon’s Jacob Oliver or Chestnut Ridge’s Trent Crouse, ranked first and second, respectively, in the Mirror rankings, to win his fourth regional title. The pick here is Oliver to beat Crouse in a highly-anticipated semifinal to make the finals.
Tyrone’s Jared Beckwith (195) and Ridge’s Austin Buttry (285) should also make the finals, but they’ll settle for second. Beckwith was a little banged up at districts, so we’ll see how that plays out.
I’m tempted to pick Huntingdon or Ridge to win the team title, but given Burrell’s studs and District 7’s recent success at the tournament, I’m going with Burrell. The Bearcats and Lions won their district tournaments, and the Bearcats have nine wrestlers in Johnstown, but they’ll have to improve on recent regional performances.
But, hey, anything can happen on those ice-chilled mats.
Last week’s picks went a lot better than the District 6 Class AA predictions. Here’s the rest of this week’s picks:
106 POUNDS: Finalists: Aaron Burkett, Chestnut Ridge vs. Max Murin, Central Cambria. Champion: Murin. Comment: Something tells me Penn Cambria’s Nolan Link wants another crack at Murin, so he’ll test Burkett in semifinals.
113 POUNDS: Finalists: Collin Glorioso, Huntingdon vs. Austin McDermitt, Burgettstown. Champion: Glorioso. Comment: So tempted to pick Bedford’s Johnathan Gabriel to make the finals, but giving the edge to McDermitt in their semifinal clash.
120 POUNDS: Finalists: George Phillipi, Derry Area vs. Joe Swank, Berlin Brothersvalley. Champion: Phillipi. Comment: Phillipi is One example of how tough the tournament is, finishing third last year and then winning states.
126 POUNDS: Finalists: John Demaske, Jefferson Morgan vs. Patrick Dewitt, Valley. Champion: Demaske. Comment: Demaske could get tested by Central Cambria’s Tom Opdenhoff and Cambria Heights’ Joe Davis along the way.
132 POUNDS: Finalists: Mike Carr, South Fayette vs. Ryan Easter, Bedford. Champion: Carr. Comment: Huntingdon’s Devon Green will give Easter a test in the semifinals, but regional experience is on Easter’s side.
138 POUNDS: Finalists: Jake Wentzel, South Park vs. Jason Miller, Jefferson Morgan. Champion: Wentzel. Comment: Ridge’s Derrick Claar and Tyrone’s Jason Schopp could possibly make it through Miller’s side, and Bedford’s Garrett Thomas and Huntingdon’s Nathan Russell are on Wentzel’s side.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Jason Nolf, Kittanning vs. Jacob Oliver, Huntingdon. Champion: Nolf. Comment: Huge clash between the freshman Oliver and Ridge’s Trent Crouse in semifinals for chance to wrestle two-time state champ Nolf.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Steve Edwards, Burrell vs. Andrew Doak, Blairsville. Champion: Edwards. Comment: Doak will have to go through South Park’s returning champ Bulsak and Berlin’s Cahill to get to the finals.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: J.J. Walker, South Fayette vs. Bryce Fochtman, Berlin Brothersvalley. Champion: Walker. Comment: Cambria Heights’ Levi Niebauer will look to stop Fochtman from getting another shot at Walker, who beat Fochtman in OT in Thomas finals.
170 POUNDS: Finalists: Corey Hazel, Penns Valley vs. Bill Bowlen, Jefferson Morgan. Champion: Hazel. Comment: Northern Bedford’s Lucas Kolinchak could be in position to face Hazel in semifinals.
182 POUNDS: Finalists: Scott Thompson, Blairsville vs. Terrell Fields, Valley. Champion: Thompson. Comment: Ridge’s Conner Buttry could get shot at third-ranked Thompson in semifinals.
195 POUNDS: Finalists: Tyler Oliver, United vs. Jared Beckwith, Tyrone. Champion: Oliver. Comment: Beckwith might still be a little banged up from the district tournament. If he isn’t, he could take this weight.
220 POUNDS: Finalists: Jake Temple, Avella vs. Buzzy Maines, West Branch. Champion: Temple. Comment: Temple’s ranked No. 1 by Off The Mat, and Maines is No. 2. Winner will have to score a lot of points.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Allan Beattie, Burrell vs. Austin Buttry, Chestnut Ridge. Champion: Beattie. Comment: Loaded weight class. Cambria Heights’ Aaron Gill could face Buttry in semis, and Everett’s Devin Reed could face Beattie in other semi.
TEAM CHAMPION: Burrell. Comment: So hard to pick a team champ, but giving Burrell the slight edge over Huntingdon, Ridge and even Jefferson Morgan.
LAST WEEK’S DISTRICT 5 RECORD: 24 out of 30 correct situations. LAST WEEK’S DISTRICT 6 AAA RECORD: 21 out of 30 correct situations. OVERALL RECORD: 60 out of 90 correct situations.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.