In the end, it wasn't Centre County's year to reclaim the District 6 Class AAA team championship. But five individual champions and 26 Northwest Regional qualifiers is a nice consolation prize.
Mifflin County crowned three champions, all freshmen, advanced 10 wrestlers to regionals, claimed the coach of the year in Kirby Martin and amassed 198.5 points to claim the team title. Six-time defending champion Central Mountain crowned two champions, earned 10 regional qualifiers and rolled up 189.5 team points to take second.
Bald Eagle Area had three champs and nine qualifiers to place third with 166.5 points. Bellefonte crowned two champs and qualified six for regionals with 134.5 points and a fourth-place finish.
Philipsburg-Osceola was denied a champ, but finished in sixth place with 115 points and seven qualifiers. State College couldn't claim a champ either. The Little Lions finished in eighth place with 75.5 points and four qualifiers.
The Eagles’ champs came all in a row. Jake Taylor won the 182-pound crown, his third in a row, followed by Aaron Varner (195) and Nate Sharkey (220).
“I feel good for those guys. They push each other and they push themselves. They deserve to get what they got. I’m happy for them,” BEA coach Steve Millward said.
The Eagles’ Travis Giedroc lost in the 113-pound finals to Mifflin County’s Hayden Hidlay. And, at 138, Joe Powers was pinned by Altoona four-time champ T.J. Brandt, who was voted the tournament Outstanding Wrestler by the media.
Bellefonte’s two champs came in Trevor Corl, who won at 120 after winning at 113 a year ago, and Nick Shawley, who won at 170 after winning at 195 last year.
“I give credit to the guys who were in the finals,” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said.
The Red Raiders had two wrestlers lose in the finals: Luke Leathers dropped a 5-1 decision to Hollidaysburg’s Damian Huff at 106 and Garrett Poorman was blanked, 4-0, by Hollidaysburg’s Matt Barton at 285.
Philipsburg-Osceola saw two wrestlers lose in the finals. Brian Evans dropped a 4-1 decision to Mifflin County’s Noah Stewart. And, at 170, John Prentice fell to Bellefonte’s Shawley.
“We wrestled a little too close to the vest, maybe, in the finals. There were a lot of nerves working there. It’s the first time they were in a big match like that,” P-O coach Tim McCamley said. “They wrestled hard; they had a good tournament. They’re both seniors. They’re the two hardest working guys in the room. They deserved to be in the finals.”
For State College, Derek Horner dropped a 6-4 decision to Mifflin County’s Brandon Wilson.
Bald Eagle Area’s qualifiers include: Coby Bainey (third at 106), Giedroc, Clint McCaslin (fourth at 132), Powers, Mitchell Taylor (fourth at 160), Ben Verbitskey (fourth at 170), Jake Taylor, Varner and Sharkey.
Bellefonte’s qualifiers include: Leathers, Aaron Witherite (fourth at 113), Corl, Dillon Kephart (third at 145), Shawley and Poorman.
“I’m disappointed. We have six guys going on but on some weight classes, we didn’t show up,” Maney said.
Philipsburg-Osceola’s qualifiers include: Bryan Descavish (fourth at 120), Evans, Caleb Shively (fourth at 138), Scott Yarger (fourth at 145), Prentice, Dennis Lumadue (third at 182) and Nick Gray (third at 220).
“After last night, that’s good. Last night we seemed a little down. We wrestled a lot better today. It’s nice to take seven out of here,” McCamley said. “We only came here with 12. I would like to have more but that’s a pretty good showing.”
State College’s qualifiers include: Kyle Catral (fourth at 106), Anthony Myers (fourth at 126), Horner and Alex Stover (third at 160).
Corl won his title with a 5-1 win over Mifflin County’s Isaac Underhill. In on a single in the first period, Corl locked up a near cradle and turned Underhill for five points and made it hold up.
“He’s been wrestling well. He seems to be getting better as the season goes on,” Maney said. “It’s not easy to win a title as a freshman and a sophomore. It was a good job by him to win two titles early on.”
Shawley scored a takedown in the first period and added an escape and another takedown in the second for a 5-0 win over Prentice.
“He wrestled a good solid match. I wanted to see him get a little more offense on his feet, but we knew Prentice was a tough kid and was going to wrestle a good, solid six minutes. Shawley basically controlled the match from start to finish,” Maney said.
Taylor scored an early takedown and maintained control from there in a 7-3 domination of Central Mountain’s Blaze Buckwalter.
“He just goes out and gives you six minutes of everything Jake can do. He doesn’t stop. He’s smart about how the match goes,” Millward said.
Varner gave up an initial takedown to Altoona’s Mante Barnes but rallied for a 7-5 win, scoring the winning points with a takedown in the late stages of the third period.
“Aaron, he does things that’s Aaron. I don’t really know what to say about Aaron. He does his own thing. Stuff just happens. It’s fun to watch him wrestle,” Millward said.
Sharkey took Central Mountain’s Cameron Porter down to his back for a five-point move in the first, added a reversal in the second and two takedowns in the third for an 11-1 major decision.
“I haven’t seen that much out of him in a while. He was ready to go. He was excited to be in the finals, I know that. The level of energy that he kept through a six-minute match was pretty phenomenal,” Millward said.
Other champions included Altoona’s D.J. Hollingshead at 132 and Central Mountain’s Chad Reese and Gavin Caprio at 152 and 160, respectively.
Notes: The District 6 Wrestling Hall of Fame inducted 10 new members this year, six of whom have Centre County ties: Joe Humphreys, current Bellefonte head coach and former Bald Eagle Area state champion Mike Maney, former State College state champion Scott Pifer, former Bald Eagle Area state champion Skip Pighetti and former Bald Eagle Area state champion Doug Taylor.