By Todd Irwin
Altoona senior T.J. Brandt has close to 100 medals since he started wrestling in elementary school, and he's kept all of them.
Photos for the Mirror by Jon Christoff
Altoona’s T.J. Brandt tries to turn BEA’s Joseph Powers during the 138-pound finals.
The gold medal that hung around his neck Saturday night at the Altoona Fieldhouse will have a special place.
"This is going on my wall," he said with a smile.
Brandt (26-3) , the school's all-time win leader with 120, added another first by becoming the first Mountain Lion to win four District 6 Tournament titles, pinning his way through the tourney, including one in 2:27 of Bald Eagle Area's Joe Powers in the finals.
"It feels good," Brandt said. "Something I've been looking for all year. Now, I can look forward to regionals. [Winning a title] feels different every year."
"The one good thing about that is nobody can ever beat that when you win four," Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. "As long as their is wrestling, he'll be among the greatest District 6 has ever had."
Then, he added another highlight later as he was voted the Outstanding Wrestler by the media. It's the first time an Altoona wrestler has been voted OW. It's his third OW award of the season.
Altoona went 2-for-4 in the finals as D.J. Hollingshead (132) also won a title, and Markief Knode (160) and Mante Barnes (195) fell in the finals. Hollidaysburg went 2-for-2 as Damian Huff (106) and Matt Barton (285) captured titles.
[Hollingshead and Brandt] looked very tough out there," Gilbert said. "T.J. Brandt was the Outstanding Wrestler and took it to every opponent he had, and so did D.J. Hollingshead. Both of those men work very hard, train very hard and all of their hard work paid off."
"That was absolutely fantastic," Hollidaysburg coach Mike Moore said. "Matt has been working on trying to deal with Poorman's underhook the last couple weeks, and he obviously got that done tonight. We're ecstatic. I can't recall the last time we had two champs . Great feeling, great night."
Philipsburg-Osceola's Brian Evans (126) and Jay Prentice (170) had to settle for second place.
Mifflin County captured its first team title by nine points, 198.5-189.5, over Central Mountain, stopping the Wildcats' six-year run. Bald Eagle Area (166.5) was third.
Brandt, who finished his district career with nine pins, a technical fall and a major decision, took a 5-0 lead over Powers into the second period, where he hit a cement mixer, put Powers on his back and got the fall. Brandt had a big smile on his face as he ran off the mat.
The most joyous reaction among the area champs was by Barton, who had never beaten Bellefonte's Garrett Poorman. Barton (25-3) broke open a scoreless tie in the second with a takedown, rode tough the rest of the second and all of the third before scoring two back points as the buzzer sounded to win, 4-0.
"To finally beat him in the district championship is just amazing," Barton said. "It feels great.
Before the referee even raised his hand, Barton jumped into the arms of much smaller coach Mike Moore as the Hollidaysburg section celebrated.
"My sophomore year, I finished fifth here, and I decided back then if I ever won districts, I was going to jump into his arms," Barton said. "I was just excited, and he handled it."
"When you weigh about 140, and you have 280 pounds coming at you and jumping and you've got a bad neck, I almost went down," Moore said. "But, it was well worth it. He did a great job."
Huff (21-2), who finished fourth in last year's tournament, reached the finals with a 12-1 win over Bald Eagle Area's Coby Bainey in the semifinals, and then he earned the title with a 5-1 victory over Bellefonte's second-seeded Luke Leathers.
Huff struck first against the taller Leathers with a takedown in the first period, and he led 2-1 entering the third. Leathers gave up an escape, and Huff took him down at the edge of the mat with 1:12 left.
Huff rode him the rest of the way, he pumped his fist when the final buzzer sounded. Huff high-fived coach Mike Moore when he got back to his corner, and he climbed into the Hollidaysburg section later.
"It feels good," Huff said. "I've been at it for three years now, and I managed to pull it out this year. I worked hard over the offseason, and I just got it done."
"He wrestled pretty cautiously in the finals," Moore said. "He probably could have done more to open it up, but he wrestled a smart match."
Huff, a returning state qualifier, said last year's experience at a deep weight class helped him.
"It showed me I need to work harder," he said, "and not only could I beat them, but I could also get to that state level. Regionals is going to be a lot deeper. There's a lot of tough kids there."
Hollingshead (31-3), a returning runner-up, piled up three takedowns and an 8-4 lead on Mifflin County's Lucas Besch before he pancaked Besch to his back and pinned him in 3:54.
"It just kind of happened," Hollingshead said of the pancake. "I had a pretty comfortable lead. This feels amazing after taking second last year."
"He hit it quick, didn't he?" Gilbert said. "When you do stuff like good things are going to happen to you, no matter who it's against."
Knode dropped a 1-0 decision to Central Mountain's top-seeded Gavin Caprio in the finals. Knode forced the action in the third, but he wasn't able to get a takedown.
Barnes dropped a 7-4 decision to Bald Eagle Area's Aaron Varner. Varner was leading 5-3 in the second, but it appeared Barnes had scored a takedown right before the buzzer. Gilbert questioned the referee, but the call held up. A Barnes late takedown attempt was stopped and called a stalemate.
"I tell you what, there were a few questionable calls out there," Gilbert said, "and I think it cost us the bout tonight. I feel bad for the kid.
"We also lost a 1-0 match, and I have to give kudos to the kid from Central Mountain. The Caprio boy has very good head, hands defense. We're just unable to break that this evening."
Evans dropped a 4-1 decision to Mifflin County freshman Noah Stewart, who had a first-period takedown and second-period reversal.
Prentice was beaten by Bellefonte's returning champion and 2012 Outstanding Wrestler Nick Shawley, 5-0. Neither P-O finalist could get off the bottom in the third.
"We were too close to the vest in the finals," P-O coach Tim McCamley said. "There were a lot of nerves working, I'm sure. It's the first time they've been in a big match like that, but they wrestled hard. They had a good tournament. They're the two hardest working guys in the room."
Notes: P-O, Altoona and Hollidaysburg advanced a combined 16 wrestlers to the Northwest Regional. P-O had seven qualifiers, and Altoona had six. Hollidaysburg advanced three to regionals. ... Mifflin County coach Kirby Martin was voted the Coach of the Year. ... Altoona, P-O and Hollidaysburg finished fifth, sixth and seventh. ... BEA's Jake Taylor won his third title.CLASS AAA TOURNAMENT
KEY, TEAM STANDINGS
1. MC-Mifflin County 198.5; 2. CM-Central Mountain 189.5; 3. BEA-Bald Eagle Area 166.5; 4. B-Bellefonte 134.5; 5. A-Altoona 128.5; 6. PO-Philipsburg-Osceola 115; 7. H-Hollidaysburg 89; 8. J-Johnstown 27.
106-Huff, H, maj. dec. Bainey, BEA, 12-1; Leathers, B, maj. dec. D. Wilson, MC, 12-2; 113-Giedroc, BEA, maj. dec. Witherite, B, 13-5; Hidlay, MC, pinned Bottorf, CM, 4:52; 120-Corl, B, dec. Andrus, CM, 7-2; Underhill, MC, pinned Sills, SC, 2:39; 126-Stewart, MC, dec. C. Hanley, CM, 3-2; Evans, PO, dec. Rosenberger, B, 2-1; 132-Hollingshead, A, tech. fall McCaslin, BEA, 16-1, 5:07; Besch, MC, dec. Watt, CM, 5-0; 138-Brandt, A, pinned Bair, MC, :34; Powers, BEA, pinned Shively, PO, 5:09; 145-B. Wilson, MC, dec. Yarger, PO, 7-3; Horner, SC, dec. Kephart, B, 6-3.
152-Reese, CM, tech. fall Cable, B, 16-1, 5:32; Knarr, MC, pinned Ca. Walls, H, 3:45; 160-Caprio, CM, dec. Stover, SC, 3-1; Knode, A, dec. M. Taylor, BEA, 7-1; 170-Shawley, B, dec. Verbitskey, BEA, 6-0; Prentice, PO, dec. Stacey, CM, 4-1; 182--J. Taylor, BEA, pinned Kephart, A, 1:01; Buckwalter, CM, maj. dec. Lumadue, PO, 8-0; 195-Varner, BEA, pinned Pulcine, H, :30; Barnes, A, pinned Hannon, MC, 2:46; 220-Sharkey, BEA, dec. Gray, PO, 5-1; Porter, CM, dec. Kahley, MC, 5-4 OT TB; 285-Poorman, B, dec. Rhodes, MC, 2-0; Barton, H, dec. Rosenberry, A, 4-1 OT TB.
106-Catral, SC, dec. Moore, CM, 7-2; Bryan, A, tech. fall Quick, PO, 15-0, 3:48; 113-Barnhart, PO, pinned Querry, A, 2:03; 120-Kociola, H, dec. Kachik, BEA, 6-0; 126-Stine, BEA, dec. Hagg, H, 9-5; 132-Kephart, PO, pinned Hall, J, 2:35; Co. Walls, H, dec. Musser, B, 4-1; 138-Holden, SC, pinned Toscano, H, 1:55; Knepp, CM, maj. dec. Ault, B, 9-0.
152-Haun, SC, pinned N. Scheinberg, A, 2:19; White, J, pinned Guy, PO, 2:07; 160-Wilson, J, pinned Shuey, PO, 4:03; Pierce, MC, dec. Wolk, H, 9-3; 170-Bilofsky, H, pinned Dillen, A, 1:35; Corson, MC, pinned Piscatello, J, 1:36; 182-Litvin, J, pinned Servello, H, :43; Cain, B, pinned Vandervort, SC, 1:59; 195-Long, CM, pinned Benford, B, 1:20; 220-Putnam, B, dec. Forrer-Lewis, SC, 9-3; 285-Gawryla, BEA, pinned Kusmierz-Mobley, SC, :54; B. Hanley, CM, pinned Eckenrode, J, 3:36.
106-Catral, SC, dec. D. Wilson, MC, 6-1; Bainey, BEA, tech. fall Bryan, A, 17-1, 4:31; 113-Bottorf, CM, pinned Bowser, H, 1:32; Witherite, B, maj. dec. Barnhart, PO, 14-0; 120-Descavish, PO, pinned Sills, SC, 2:34; Andrus, CM, dec. Kociola, H, 10-5; 126-Myers, SC, dec. Rosenberger, B, 8-2; C. Hanley, CM, pinned Stine, BEA, :26; 132-Watt, CM, pinned Kephart, PO, 2:14; McCaslin, BEA, dec. Co. Walls, H, 4-2; 138-Shively, PO, dec. Holden, SC, 2-1; Bair, MC, dec. Knepp, CM, 5-3; 145-Kephart, B, dec. Bender, A, 2-0; Yarger, PO, dec. Masorti, CM, 3-0.
152-Ca. Walls, H, pinned Haun, SC, 3:53; White, J, dec. Cable, B, 4-0; 160-M. Taylor, BEA, maj. dec. Wilson, J, 15-5; Stover, SC, dec. Pierce, MC, 3-1; 170-Stacey, CM, pinned Bilofsky, H, 4:20; Verbitskey, BEA, dec. Corson, MC, 10-4; 182-Lumadue, PO, pinned Litvin, J, :38; Kephart, A, pinned Cain, B, 2:04; 195-Hannon, MC, dec. Alvarez, SC, 3-2; Long, CM, maj. dec. Pulcine, H, 12-4; 220-Kahley, MC, dec. J. Scheinberg, A, 10-4; Gray, PO, pinned Putnam, B, :59; 285-Rosenberry, A, dec. Gawryla, BEA, 8-3; Rhodes, MC, pinned B. Hanley, CM, 1:38.
106-D. Wilson, MC, tech. fall Bryan, A, 16-0, 2:07; 113-Bowser, H, pinned Barnhart, PO, :59; 120-Sills, SC, tech. fall Kociola, H, 16-0, 2:44; 126-Rosenberger, B, pinned Stine, BEA, 1:10; 132-Kephart, PO, maj. dec. Co. Walls, H, 14-3; 138-Holden, SC, dec. Knepp, CM, 9-5; 145-Masorti, CM, pinned Bender, A, 2:57.
152-Cable, B, dec. Haun, SC, 5-0; 160-Wilson, J, dec. Pierce, MC, 6-4; 170-Corson, MC, dec. Bilofsky, H, 9-6; 182-Cain, B, dec. Litvin, J, 8-4; 195-Pulcine, H, pinned Alvarez, SC, 3:56; 220-J. Scheinberg, A, pinned Putnam, B, :20; 285-Gawryla, BEA, dec. B. Hanley, CM, 4-2.
106-Bainey, BEA, pinned Catral, SC, 2:22; 113-Bottorf, CM, pinned Witherite, B, 3:16; 120-Andrus, CM, maj. dec. Descavish, PO, 12-4; 126-C. Hanley, CM, dec. Myers, SC, 4-2; 132-Watt, CM, dec. McCaslin, BEA, 6-0; 138-Bair, MC, won by injury default over Shively, PO; 145-Kephart, B, dec. Yarger, PO, 3-0.
152-White, J, dec. Ca. Walls, H, 1-0; 160-Stover, SC, dec. M. Taylor, BEA, 1-0; 170-Stacey, CM, dec. Verbitskey, BEA, 3-0; 182-Lumadue, PO, pinned Kephart, A, 3:51; 220-Gray, PO, dec. Kahley, MC, 3-2 OT UTB; 285-Rosenberry, A, dec. Rhodes, MC, 6-0.
106-Huff, H, dec. Leathers, B, 5-1; 113-Hidlay, MC, maj. dec. Giedroc, BEA, 9-1; 120-Corl, B, dec. Underhill, MC, 5-1; 126-Stewart, MC, dec. Evans, PO, 4-1; 132-Hollingshead, A, pinned Besch, MC, 2:27; 138-Brandt, A, pinned Powers, BEA, 2:27; 145-B. Wilson, MC, dec. Horner, SC, 6-4.
152-Reese, CM, dec. Knarr, MC, 2-1; 160-Caprio, CM, dec. Knode, A, 1-0; 170-Shawley, B, dec. Prentice, PO, 5-0; 182-J. Taylor, BEA, dec. Buckwalter, CM, 7-3; 195-Varner, BEA, dec. Barnes, A, 7-4; 220-Sharkey, BEA, maj. dec. Porter, CM, 11-1; 285-Barton, H, dec. Poorman, B, 4-0.
Outstanding Wrestler-T.J. Brandt, Altoona. Coach of the Year-Kirby Martin, Mifflin County.