Bearcats look to claim 5th straight title

While the postseason tournaments become more about individuals than teams, the most intriguing part of this weekend’s District 6 Class 2A Tournament could be the team race.

Huntingdon has won the team title four straight years, but the Bearcats’ streak will be threatened.

The Bearcats finished second to Westmont Hilltop at the District 6 Duals before making a run at the PIAA Duals, so count the Hilltoppers as a threat.

The bigger threat, though, is likely to be Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy, which easily won the Panther Classic earlier in the season. Huntingdon finished a distant third in that tournament.

“We’re just going to go out and get after it and try to pick up as many bonus points as we can along the way,” Huntingdon coach Jon Mykut said. “We’ll just let everything else take care of itself. Usually that has a way of working itself out if your guys get out and get after it.”

The tournament begins at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the AAHS Fieldhouse with the first round. The second round and a round of consolations will be wrestled, and then there will be a break before the 5 p.m. evening session. The quarterfinals and two rounds of consolations will be wrestled in the evening session.

The tournament resumes at 10:30 a.m. Saturday with the fourth round of consolations. The semifinals will follow at around noon. The championship finals, third and fifth-place bouts will all be wrestled at the same time again, and are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

The top six at every weight class advance to the Southwest Regional Tournament.

If the Bearcats are to continue their streak, many of their wrestlers will have to do better than their seeds. Alex Mykut is the No. 1 seed at 195, and Izac Benson (132) and returning state qualifier Landon Fisher (220) are No. 2 seeds.

Benson is a returning district champion, beating Moshannon Valley’s Alex Richner, 3-2, in the 126-pound finals last year. Richner is the No. 1 seed at 126 this season.

Mykut finished fifth at 182 in last year’s tournament.

“Alex has had a great season,” Coach Mykut said. “He’s a win away from 30 wins, and I’m just excited to see him wrestle this weekend. He’s got some good kids at 195, and he’s got to go out there, work hard and do things he’s been doing all year. Hopefully, he’ll get to the top of the medals stand.”

Fisher placed second in last year’s tournament, dropping a 9-3 decision to Bishop McCort’s Josiah Jones in the finals. He’s seeded behind McCort’s 23-0 Anthony Walters, who is ranked No. 2 at 195 by PA Power Wrestling and beat Fisher, 3-0, at the District 6 Duals. Fisher, ranked ninth, just pinned Derry Area’s top-ranked 220-pounder Dominic DeLuca at the PIAA Duals.

“Fisher knocked off the No. 1 guy in the state last week,” Mykut said, “and then Walters moved up to 220. That presents another challenge for him. Landon is looking forward to wrestling and getting after it. We wrestled him at team districts at Tyrone, and I think he needs to open up a little more. So, hopefully we’ll see a little bit of that this weekend.”

Glendale freshman sensation Brock McMillen (113), Moshannon Valley’s Jon Dale (160), Penn Cambria’s Derek Brown (170) and Central Cambria’s Nate Martin (285) are also No. 2 seeds.

Martin finished second at 285 last season, dropping a 1-0 decision to Southern Huntingdon’s Nick Winfield. Cambria Heights’ Cody Bogus, the seventh seed at 285, finished third in last year’s tournament.

Dale finished fourth at 152, and Brown was fifth at 160. Brown is seeded behind Ligonier Valley’s three-time district champion Robbie Patrick.

“I’ll be honest, we actually kicked around going to 182,” Penn Cambria coach Todd Niebauer said of Brown. “Rumor has it that (Beth-Center’s Dominic) Fundy, the state runner-up, is out with a broken hand. I thought 182 might open up, but Brown isn’t big, so we’re going to keep him where he is. If he follows Robbie Patrick through, we’ll see what happens.”

Joe Tuscano of the Observer-Reporter tweeted on Wednesday that Fundy will miss the postseason with a hand injury.

Moshannon Valley’s Joe Ball, who has pulled off upsets in the last two district tournaments, is a returning runner-up, but he’s seeded seventh at 120.

Penn Cambria’s Chase Proudfit is a two-time runner-up, but to get to the finals this season, he’ll have to do it as a fourth seed at 132.

Proudfit’s teammate, Jarred Stoy finished fourth at 170 last season, but he dropped from 182 to 160 for the postseason. He’s the fourth seed at that weight.

The postseason is when the tension starts to build and the best wrestlers begin focusing on getting on the medals stand on three different weekends.

“This is what you do it for,” Niebauer said. “The dual meet thing is fun, but the camaraderie with the coaches and watching upsets happen, and hoping you’re not on the other end of the upset, is a fun time.”

“It’s what you point to from the beginning of the season until now,” Mykut said. “You get to the end of the year trying to get individuals on the medals stand down in Hershey, so it’s the start on Friday. We’re excited about it.”