Penn State

Tuesday Takedowns

1. Team duals begin

The District 6 Class AAA team duals begin tonight when Bald Eagle Area (9-4) visits Westmont Hilltop (8-2). Bellefonte (8-4) visits Philipsburg-Osceola (9-2) on Wednesday in the other first-round match.

Top-seeded Central Mountain (12-0) awaits the Bellefonte-P-O winner. Newcomer Mifflin County (15-3) faces the BEA-Westmont Hilltop winner. The semifinals and finals are Saturday morning at Tyrone High School. 

Call the top half of the bracket the rematch pod. Bellefonte beat P-O 45-35 on Dec. 15. Central Mountain defeated Bellefonte 39-30 on Dec. 13. The Wildcats also defeated P-O 46-21 on Dec. 21. 

More mystery exists in the bottom half. BEA and Westmont Hilltop feature multiple state-caliber upperweights. Mifflin County has constructed a nice dual meet team in its first season. But the Huskies are building through the junior high ranks, and they could be a serious factor in the ruthless Mid-Penn Conference if loaded seventh- and eighth-grade classes age well. 

Central Mountain has won the past four titles. The Wildcats should extend their streak to five. 

2. Healthy Wildcats 

Central Mountain is difficult to handle in a dual meet setting.

The return of Cole Hanley, Dillon Gavlock and Devin Stacey from injuries plugged multiple early-season holes. The balance has produced some big wins in recent weeks. Central Mountain has won its past six meets by 26 or more points. 

The lineup includes four potential state qualifiers from 152 to 182: Gavlock, Brian Brill, Nathaniel Powers and Blaze Buckwalter. The rest of the lineup yields few bonus points. 

The only significant hole is at 106 pounds. The Wildcats haven’t filled the weight since December. 

3. Class AA duals

Top-seeded Mount Union is the Class AA favorite. The Trojans, who face Cambria Heights on Wednesday, are 23-0. 

No. 7 Moshannon Valley visits No. 2 West Branch tonight. No. 5 Richland visits No. 4 Huntingdon and No. 6 Juniata visits No. 3 Blairsville on Wednesday.

4. Another tough little guy

Trimming weight is realistic again.

Bellefonte freshman Luke Leathers’ drop from 113 to 106 resulted in a fourth-place showing at last weekend’s New Oxford Tournament. Leathers dropped to 106 one week after State College’s Mike Kauffman made the same move. 

The 106-pound class has become Centre County’s best. Bald Eagle Area’s Travis Giedroc is the reigning District 6 champion and P-O’s Chris Thompson carried an undefeated record into New Oxford Invitational, where he finished sixth. Hollidaysburg’s Damian Huff gives the district five skilled 106-pounders.

Why are wrestlers suddenly dropping weight?

Here’s an equation explaining this trend: 106 vs. 103 pounds + two-pound allowance = stronger opening weight class.