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3A matmen close to Hershey

Altoona’s Matt Sarbo dominated the 132-pound weight class at last week’s District 6 Class 3A Tournament, including a 21-6 technical fall over State College’s Owen Woolcott in the finals.

Sarbo, voted the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament, will look to continue his postseason domination this weekend in the Northwest Regional Tournament at the AAHS Fieldhouse.

Sarbo, a junior who earned his 100th win against Woolcott, is vying for his third regional title. He would be only the second Mountain Lion to accomplish that feat, joining Cole Manley, who set the school record for regional titles in 2017.

“Matt is looking really tough right now,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said. “He’s going to be hard to beat, but there’s definitely some good guys at that weight class.”

The tournament, which includes the top four from District 6, the top five from the combined District 4-9, the top three from District 10 and the top two from District 8, begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Fieldhouse, and a second round will follow at about 8:15.

The tournament resumes at 10 Saturday morning. The semifinals and consolation quarterfinals are at 12:30, and the consolation semifinals will follow. The finals and consolation finals are set for 6 p.m.

The top three at every weight class will qualify for the PIAA Championships, which begin next Thursday at Hershey’s Giant Center.

“I believe our guys are really looking forward to it,” Gilbert said. “For the most part, they’ve worked hard all week, and they are looking to reap the rewards of a long season.”

“I’m very excited,” Hollidaysburg coach Christian Harr said. “The postseason is what you look forward to, what you wrestle for. This is our moment to go out and shine if you will with the guys that we’ve got left.”

Sarbo is one of six Mountain Lions, while Hollidaysburg has four wrestlers in the tournament. Joining Sarbo are District 6 runner-up Colin Allmond (182), third-placer Trevor Manley (285) and fourth-placers Damion Finnegan (126) Adam Zerbee (152) and Ray Boose (220).

“We’re in some decent positions,” Gilbert said. “We have to wrestle well to get out. Everybody is healthy and ready to go. We’re looking to perform well.”

Hollidaysburg is led by District 6 runners-up Aaron Sleeth (152) and Campbell Walls (160). Third-placer Nicholas Burkey (145) and fourth-placer Colin Smilnak (113) are also returning to the Fieldhouse for a second straight week.

If Sarbo (32-2) makes it to the regional finals again, he could get another bout against Woolcott, making it the fourth time in the last five postseason tournaments they’ve wrestled in the finals. Woolcott likely have to get through DuBois’ returning state sixth-placer Trenton Donahue.

“It’s should be interesting to see how Donahue gets to the finals,” Gilbert said. “As long as Matt takes care of himself and takes care of the little things, I think he should be okay. Hopefully, we can get to the finals, and maybe we’ll meet Woolcott again.”

Sleeth and Walls made it to the second round of consolations in last year’s tournament before being eliminated. Sleeth would wrestle DuBois’ returning state champion Ed Scott in the quarterfinals with a preliminary round win.

“Aaron has a pretty tough draw after the first round, obviously,” Harr said. “I’m pretty excited to see him go down there and put it all on the line.

“Walls has a pretty good draw. He looks to hopefully go out there and back up that second-place district finish. Hopefully he’ll be able to get out to those quarters and semis and pull off one of those upsets everybody wants to talk about.”

The regional wrestlers don’t have as much room for error as they did at their respective district tournaments. When they drop into the consolations, the intensity to continue their seasons going increases.

“There’s a lot of pressure because if you don’t make it to the finals, you have to wrestle the whole way back, and you’ve got to win,” Harr said. “It’s very tough. From personal experience, I can tell you it’s never the easiest thing to do to get to the show.”

“There are a lot of different styles and kids you may not have seen throughout the year,” Gilbert said, “so you kind of don’t know what you’re getting into. There’s really not a lot of scouting involved. We’re just hoping our kids are prepared for anything that comes their way.”

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