Mirror wrestling all-stars: Brandt, Lazor deliver titles
Altoona senior 138-pounder T.J. Brandt and Chestnut Ridge coach Greg Lazor reached new heights during the 2012-13 wrestling season.
And because of those new heights, Brandt and Lazor have earned the top honors on the 30th annual Mirror All-Star Team. Brandt has been named the Mirror Wrestler of the Year for the first time, and Lazor has been named the Coach of the Year for the second straight time.
Brandt became the first Mountain Lion – and the 19th wrestler in District 6 history – to win four District 6 titles, and he did so in his customary bulldozer fashion, pinning his way through the tournament, including a 7-second pin in the quarterfinals and a fall in 2:27 over Bald Eagle Area’s Joe Powers in the finals.
He was voted the Outstanding Wrestler of the district tournament, which was his third OW of the season, and became the first Altoona wrestler to win the award.
Brandt went on to win his second Northwest Regional Tournament title, hammering McDowell’s Shawn Spearman, 11-0, in the finals and becoming the first Mountain Lion to win back-to-back regional titles since Jason Kutz in 1991 and 1992.
The one thing he needed on his glorious high school wrestling resume was a state tournament medal, and he did that by reaching the semifinals of the rugged three-day event and eventually earning a sixth-place medal – the best finish for an Altoona wrestler since Joe Ciampoli took sixth in 2004.
Named to the first team for the third time, Brandt went 31-6 with 18 pins and four technical falls this season and broke former teammate K.J. Walters’ school career win record with 125, finishing with a career mark of 125-21.
The Mirror Coach of the Year award is just the latest in honors for Lazor this season. He was voted District 5 Coach of the Year for the second straight season, and the big one came last Saturday in Hershey, when he was named PIAA Class AA Coach of the Year.
Lazor guided the Lions to another sterling regular season, going 25-3, winning the District 5 Duals for the first time with a 34-30 win over Bedford, which had won five straight district titles, and finishing fourth at the PIAA Duals. It was the best finish by an area or District 5 team since Bedford took fourth in 2009.
Ridge won the rugged Thomas Subaru Tournament for the first time since 2005, despite not having a champion. Lazor led the Lions to their second straight District 5 individual tournament crown and a fifth-place finish at the Southwest Regional Tournament.
Lazor is joined on the team by Ridge 170-pound four-time District 5 champion Tyler Dibert. Brandt has two teammates on the team in D.J. Hollingshead at 132 and Markief Knode at 160.
Four Bedford wrestlers were named to the first team, including Class AA state runner-up Ryan Easter, and two Moshannon Valley wrestlers made the list.
The first, second and honorable mention teams follow the order of the Mirror rankings, with some exceptions at deep weights. Here’s the rest of the first team and its accomplishments:
106 pounds: Collin Glorioso, Huntingdon: Glorioso finished with a 39-5 record, led the area in technical falls with seven and had 15 pins.Glorioso took second at the District 6 Class AA Tournament, won the very deep Southwest Regional 106-pound class and avenged his district finals loss to Forest Hills’ Triston Law, 3-0, in the finals.
He finished third at states, which was the best finish for a Huntingdon wrestler since Dave Distler was second in 1993.
113 pounds: Josh Brown, Claysburg-Kimmel: Named to the first team for the second time, the senior had never placed at the state tournament in two previous appearances, but he finished fifth this season, and he was a possible semifinal overtime slam call against South Fayette’s Seth Carr away from making the finals.
Brown won his first district title in three career finals appearances, beating Ligonier Valley’s Justin Patrick, 6-5, which avenged three previous losses to Patrick. He finished fourth at the Southwest Regional. Brown finished with a 30-9 record and six major decisions. Brown was 96-28 in three years.
120 pounds: Ryan Easter, Bedford: Easter returns to the first team for the third time. His silver medal from Hershey was his third in his state tournament history, matching what his dad, Joel, did for the Bisons from 1986 to 1988. Easter, who was beaten by Bethlehem Catholic two-time state champion Darian Cruz, 16-4, in the finals, was the first Bedford finalist since Eric Gibbons in 2001.
He captured his first Thomas Subaru gold medal and his third District 5 title. Easter was a Southwest Regional runner-up for the third time, losing a 4-3 overtime tiebreaker to Ligonier Valley’s Josh Patrick. Easter finished his junior season with a 36-3 record and six technical falls, and he owns a career record of 109-16.
126 pounds: Garrett Thomas, Bedford: Thomas makes the first team after a strong junior season. He won his first District 5 title, rallying to win another epic battle with Ridge’s Trent Crouse, 6-4, and finished sixth at the Southwest Regional, coming up a place short of qualifying for states. Thomas, a Thomas Subaru champion, was 32-5 with 20 pins this season, and he has a 92-22 career record.
132 pounds: D.J. Hollingshead, Altoona: A first-teamer at 120 as a freshman, Hollingshead returns to the first team after he won his first District 6 Class AAA title in his second finals appearance, pinning Mifflin County’s Lucas Besch in the finals.
Hollingshead finished third at the Northwest Regional to qualify for the state tournament, and he finished with a 34-6 record and 20 pins.
145 pounds: Drew Gartland, Northern Bedford: Gartland was the last area wrestler with an undefeated record, going 28-0 until getting pinned by Conemaugh Township’s Tanner Cahill in overtime in the District 5 finals. Cahill was later voted the tournament’s OW. Gartland finished his senior season with a 29-3 record and 14 pins, and he was 102-27 as a four-year starter.
152 pounds: Tanner Williams, Bedford: He didn’t get a chance to wrestle in last year’s postseason because of a broken hand, but he made the most of his opportunity this season, winning a District 5 title, finishing third at the Southwest Regional and just missing making the medal round at states with a 1-2 mark.
Williams was 35-7 with 16 pins as a senior, and he was 71-28 in three years.
160 pounds: Markief Knode, Altoona: Recognized on any Mirror wrestling team for the first time in his career, Knode makes the first team after finishing second at the District 6 Class AAA Tournament to qualify for regionals. He went 25-11 wrestling at 160 and 170.
170 pounds: Tyler Dibert, Chestnut Ridge: With his 8-2 win over Bedford’s Caleb Grimes, Dibert became Ridge’s first four-time District 5 champion since Lester McLucas won four from 1958 to 1961. After placing third at the Southwest Regional, he took seventh in Hershey, placing there for the first time in three state tournament visits.
Dibert, a three-time Mirror first-teamer, finished with a 41-7 record and 25 pins, leading the area in both wins and pins. He broke Dan Albright’s season pin total, and he set the program’s career win mark with a 138-31 record.
182 pounds: Michael Brett, Bedford: The dangerous Brett makes the first team after going 25-12 with 22 pins. Brett, a two-time District 5 runner-up, qualified for regionals for third time, but his season ended there when he was slammed in the consy quarters, and he ended up taking sixth. He was 83-32 with 58 pins in three years.
195 pounds: James Stodart, Moshannon Valley: Stodart returns to the first team after a record-breaking season, setting the school career win mark with a 121-30 mark and becoming the first Mo Valley wrestler to win back-to-back district titles since 1985. His fourth-place finish at states was the best for a Black Knight since Bill Caldwell took fourth in 1991.
Stodart went 36-5 with 17 pins this season, and he finished third at regionals. His first states medal was earned the hard way, losing his first bout and coming back through the consys.
220 pounds: Jake Ludwig, Moshannon Valley: Ludwig joined Stodart as a district champion, which was the first time the program had multiple champs since 1989. The Knight senior was a two-time district finalist. He finished fifth at regionals and seventh at states in his first appearance at Hershey. A second-teamer last season, Ludwig went 34-7 with 19 pins and was 89-48 in his career.
285 pounds: Matt Barton, Hollidaysburg: The Golden Tiger senior won his first district title by beating Bellefonte’s Garrett Poorman for the first time, 4-0, and then he jumped into the arms of coach Mike Moore. Barton finished second at the Northwest Regional to qualify for his first state tournament. He went 28-6 with 17 pins this season and 75-27 in three years.