ALTOONA — Through just the quarterfinal round of the District 6 Class AAA wrestling championships Friday at the Altoona Field House, a trend has already emerged.
Mifflin County has positioned itself to supplant six-time defending champion Central Mountain, but the Wildcats don’t appear ready to give up the crown just yet.
And, if things go well, Bellefonte and Bald Eagle Area will have a lot to say about who is the eventual champion including, perhaps, one of them.
The Huskies lead the team race with 11 semifinalists and 68 team points. Central Mountain is second with 61 team points and nine semifinalists. Bellefonte advanced eight into the semifinals and stands in third with 48.5 points. Bald Eagle Area, with nine semifinalists, is in fourth with 47 points. Altoona, with six semifinalists, rounds out the top five with 43.5 points.
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Philipsburg-Osceola is in sixth place with six semifinalists and 40 team points. State College pushed three into the semifinals and is in eighth place with 23 points.
“It was pretty much what I expected. The seeds wrestled to their seeds,” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said. “We encouraged the guys to go for bonus points if they had the opportunity. We have to come back tomorrow ready to battle.”
Bellefonte’s semifinalists include: Luke Leathers at 103 pounds; Aaron Witherite at 113; Trevor Corl at 120; Nate Rosenberger at 126; Dillon Kephart at 145; Austin Cable at 152; Nick Shawley at 170; and Garrett Poorman at 285.
“It was a bit of a surprise with some of the pins we got. We’re hopeful to get the falls, but just to move on in each round is our mission this weekend,” Bald Eagle coach Steve Millward said. “We’re all shooting to get those finalists in there. We’re going to give it our best shot with each kid we have in the semifinals.”
Bald Eagle Area’s semifinalists include: Coby Bainey, 106; Travis Giedroc, 113; Clint McCaslin, 132; Joseph Powers, 138; Mitchell Taylor, 160; Benjamin Vertitskey, 170; Jake Taylor, 182; Aaron Varner, 195; and Nate Sharkey, 220.
Philipsburg-Osceola coach Tim McCamley was hoping for more than the six semifinalists the Mounties got through.
“It’s not what we expected. We expected to get eight. We didn’t wrestle well in a couple matches … in a lot of matches actually. It just didn’t seem like there was any enthusiasm tonight, not just out of my group. The gym seemed dead,” he said.
“It will be much more difficult the next round. We just need to have a little more fire the next round, I think.”
P-O’s semifinalists include: Brian Evans, 126; Caleb Shively, 138; Scott Yarger, 145; John Prentice, 170; Dennis Lumadue, 182; and Nick Gray, 220.
State College had its numbers dwindled by two before the competition even began. Mike Kauffman, the third seed at 132, and 170-pounder David Fremberg didn’t weigh in for the Little Lions.
State College coach Chad Dubin said Fremberg had a death in the family. As for Kauffman, the coach alluded to weight problems, but wouldn’t elaborate further.
The Little Lions’ three semifinalists are: Daniel Sills, 120; Derek Horner, 145; and Alexander Stover, 160.
Bellefonte picked up four pins, a bye, a technical fall, a major decision and a decision in its eight wins. Leathers, Cable, Shawley and Poorman scored the falls. Rosenberger rolled up a tech fall. Witherite put together a 9-0 major. Kephart rallied for a 7-3 decision.
“It was a nice win by Kephart at 145. He’s a freshman. You don’t know what kind of anxiety and nerves he’s going to have in his first district tournament. He pulled out a nice come-from-behind win,” Maney said.
“Austin Cable wrestled above his seed, knocking off a No. 4 seed.”
For Bald Eagle Area, its nine wins were comprised of four pins, three byes and two decisions. Bainey, Powers, Verbitskey and Taylor racked up pins. Jake Taylor’s came in just nine seconds, two seconds slower than the fastest of the night by Altoona’s T.J. Brandt. Giedroc, Varner and Sharkey received byes. McCaslin and Mitchell Taylor won by decision.
“I hope they find some motivation in themselves,” Millward said. “We talked to them about being ready to wrestle. It’s just a matter of being conditioned to go at 8 o’clock in the morning if you have to; 11 shouldn’t be too bad for us.”
Of P-O’s six wins, three came by falls by Evans, Lumadue and Gray. Shively scored a major and Yarger and Prentice won by decision. Prentice, the No. 2 seed at 170, was caught in a five-point move but battled back for an 8-7 win.
“Prentice got hit with a five-point move,” McCamley said. “You only have to win by one to advance.”
State College got pins from Sills and Stover. Horner received a bye.
Action gets under way at 11 this morning with the first round of consolations and semifinals. The consolation finals are slated for 5 p.m. with the championship finals scheduled for 7 p.m.