Less than two weeks ago, Penn Cambria's Nick Szala worked his way through a rugged 138-pound weight class and won a District 6 Class AA title by beating Bellwood-Antis' Trevor Helsley, 4-2.
It's tempting to go out on the limb in my Southwest Regional picks and pick Helsley or Claysburg-Kimmel's Ty Dively or Northern Bedford's Drew Gartland or Blairsville's Noah Tarr to win the weight.
But, no, I'm staying comfortably on that limb and going with Szala.
I know, I know. Dively, still smarting from finishing fourth, has beaten Szala twice this season - the last time, 1-0, in the Thomas Subaru Tournament finals. Statistics point to Dively beating Szala if both make the semifinals, but there's more to it than stats.
Szala wrestled the best he's ever had in his career in the district tournament, and he wasn't going to be denied from winning a title. Could Dively have beaten him? We'll never know. Szala is looking forward to wrestling Dively should they meet in the semifinals.
Helsley beat Dively in the district semifinals, and he pushed Szala for three periods before Szala won, 4-2. Helsley could come through and win the weight this week, as could Dively.
To win the weight, Szala or everybody else will have to be at the top of their game. Again, I think Szala will have what it takes to win.
C-K's James Dodson (132) and Central Cambria's Tony Risaliti (160) will also have it what it takes to win titles.
Dodson should remain undefeated and beat Charleroi's Josh Kwasny in the finals. Dodson made the finals last year, but he ran into Derry Area's Jimmy Gulibon, who tech-falled Dodson and went on to win his third state title. No Gulibon at 132 this year. The edge goes to Dodson.
Risaliti and Forest Hills' Cody Law will tangle in Round 4 of the friends' season-long battle. Law has won two of the three meetings, but Risaliti beat Law to win the district title. This is the most important time of the year for all wrestlers, and Risaliti is winning when it counts, so I'm going with Risaliti.
C-K's Josh Brown (106), Bedford's Ryan Easter (113), B-A's Jared Woomer (120), Central Cambria's Ben Rager (126), Chestnut Ridge's Tyler Dibert (170), Moshannon Valley's James Stodart (195) and Northern Bedford's Quinton Hixson (285) should also make the finals, but fall once they get there.
Rager and Stodart are undefeated, but they'll be facing big challenges in the finals.
When Rager, ranked third, dropped to 126 for the postseason, he knew he'd eventually get a shot at the top-ranked Gulibon, who missed most of the season with a torn miniscus. It's an interesting matchup, but Gulibon is a takedown artist, and that's where the edge is.
Stodart lost to Southmoreland's Jordan Kitta, 6-3, in the quarterfinals last year. Stodart was a little undersized last year, and it's tempting to say that will carry Stodart past Kitta, but I'm giving the edge to Kitta, who beat Portage's David Kephart on a stalling call in the ultimate tiebreaker last season.
The team race should be more interesting than in any other year. Ridge could win the title without a champion. District 6 champion Mount Union and runner-up Cambria Heights, as well as C-K, could make a run.
Jefferson-Morgan and Chestnut Ridge both have eight qualifiers. But, I think J-M will edge out Ridge, coming off it's first District 5 title since 1983, for the title because it has a little more balance.
But who knows, anything can happen in this tournament, and often has, which makes these picks so difficult.
Here's a closer look at the picks.
106 POUNDS: Finalists: Justin Patrick, Ligonier Valley vs. Josh Brown, Claysburg-Kimmel. Champion: Patrick. Comment: Chestnut Ridge's Claar could be a contender in Brown's bracket.
113 POUNDS: Finalists: Jason Nolf, Kittanning vs. Ryan Easter, Bedford. Champion: Nolf. Comment: Easter will earn a big semifinal win over Ligonier Valley's Josh Patrick.
120 POUNDS: Finalists: Nick Roberts, North Star vs. Jared Woomer, Bellwood-Antis. Champion: Roberts. Comment: Woomer and Bedford's Thomas will battle in the semifinals.
126 POUNDS: Finalists: Jimmy Gulibon, Derry Area vs. Ben Rager, Central Cambria. Champion: Gulibon. Comment: Bedford's Toby Brett could make it to the semis to face Rager.
132 POUNDS: Finalists: James Dodson, Claysburg-Kimmel vs. Josh Kwasny, Charleroi. Champion: Dodson. Comment: Debated between Kwasny and Meyersdale's McKenzie to be Dodson's opponent.
138 POUNDS: Finalists: Nick Szala, Penn Cambria vs. Trevor Helsley, Bellwood-Antis. Champion: Szala. Comment: Don't count out Northern Bedford's Gartland in the bottom bracket.
145 POUNDS: Finalists: Zach Beitz, Juniata vs. Tanner Sutton, Chartiers-Houston. Champion: Beitz. Comment: Conemaugh Township's Cahill and Forest Hills' Brydon could make their way through through the bottom bracket.
152 POUNDS: Finalists: Cory Berchick, Conemaugh Township vs. Andrew Doak, Blairsville. Champion: Berchick. Comment: Berchick has a little more experience than the freshman Doak.
160 POUNDS: Finalists: Cody Law, Forest Hills vs. Tony Risaliti, Central Cambria. Champion: Risaliti. Comment: Bentworth's Mizia could catch Law looking ahead to a rematch.
170 POUNDS: Finalists: Dustin Conti, Jefferson-Morgan vs. Tyler Dibert, Chestnut Ridge. Champion: Conti. Comment: Heights' Inzana could give Conti his first loss in the semifinals.
182 POUNDS: Finalists: Dakota DesLauriers, Burrell vs. Scott Thompson, Blairsville. Champion: DesLauriers. Comment: Would have been nice to see what a healthy Michael Brett could against DesLauriers.
195 POUNDS: Finalists: Jordan Kitta, Southmoreland vs. James Stodart, Moshannon Valley. Champion: Kitta. Comment: Ridge's Albright could challenge Stodart in semifinals.
220 POUNDS: Finalists: John Rizzo, Richland vs. Jacob Craig, Berlin Brothersvalley. Champion: Rizzo. Comment: Rizzo will find a little more competition than at districts.
285 POUNDS: Finalists: Corey Garry, Fort Cherry vs. Quinton Hixson, Northern Bedford. Champion: Garry. Comment: Garry better not look past Somerset's Hayman.
TEAM CHAMPION: Jefferson-Morgan. Comment: Might have a little bit more balance than Chestnut Ridge.
PREDICTION RECORD: 37 out of 60 situations overall, 18 out of 30 situations in District 6 Class AAA last week.