In years past, District 6 Class AAA wrestling coaches woke up this morning with a pretty good idea of how things were shaping up for their respective teams in the District 6 Class AAA Wrestling Championships.
Today, the coaches of Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte, Philipsburg-Osceola and State College rolled over, turned off the alarm clock and probably wondered, “How will our guys do today?”
Because there are only nine AAA schools now in District 6, a number that will shrink to eight next year when Johnstown shifts to Class AA, the district decided to consolidate the tournament into one day.
Predictably, the response has been mixed.
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“We’ll see how it goes this year. The last couple years, Friday night didn’t quite have the atmosphere (it used to),” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said. “In some of the weight classes, there might not have been any matches. Hopefully, with one day, we’ll have more of a crowd.”
Philipsburg-Osceola coach Tim McCamley’s opinion was more definitive.
“I’d rather have a two-day format. I know why they did it, but I’m a traditionalist. I liked the Friday night round, but I understand why they went to one,” he said.
Under the right circumstances, wrestlers could wrestle as few as two matches and as many as five.
“I think they should be able to handle five in a day,” McCamley said.
What the four county schools might not be able to handle is a full assault on the team title. Unlike years past, when the county had a hammerlock on the title, now Central Mountain and Mifflin County, two junctures don’t forget, usually battle for supremacy.
“Very seldom does the seeding work out the way it is supposed to. Central Mountain and Mifflin County are the obvious favorites, but you never know what can happen,” McCamley said.
Maney, never one to back down from a fight as a wrestler, isn’t ready to cede anything to schools from neighboring counties as a coach.
“If we wrestle up to our seeds, we can certainly be in the mix. Every match is important. We need all of our guys scoring points,” he said.
With the district sending four from each weight on to the Class AAA Northwest Regional, there are plenty of chances for area teams to advance wrestlers. Traditionally, the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds are the safest bets.
Bellefonte leads the way in that category with two No. 1s —Brock Port (120) and Trevor Corl (132) — and three No. 2s in Aaron Witherite (106), Luke Leathers (113) and Chase Gardner (126).
Philipsburg-Osceola checks in with one No. 1, 182-pounder Dennis Lumadue, and three No. 2s — Dakota Weitosh (132), Caleb Shively (145) and Nick Gray (220).
State College can claim a No. 1 in 126-pounder Anthony Myers and a No. 2 in Mike Kauffman (138).
Bald Eagle Area has a pair of No. 2s — David Gawryla (195) and Josh Frye (285).
And, from the sounds of it, the locals are a lot healthier this year than last.
“We’re going in healthier than we were last year. We lost five starters in the last two weeks of the season,” McCamley said.
According to Maney, health is a relative term this time of year.
“We’re as healthy as you can be at the end of a wrestling season,” he said.
With the seeding format fairly cut and dried, neither coach had many complaints.
“Some guys have some very important matchups in the quarterfinals. The four vs. five matchups are important,” Maney said.
McCamley looked a little farther ahead in the brackets.
“There are probably some weights where we could have done a little better in the seeding, but it’s pretty clear cut how they do it. Some of our guys will have pretty tough semifinal matches, but that’s to be expected,” he said.
“We’ve seen most of the kids. There aren’t too many surprises. We’re ready for it.”