Philipsburg-Osceola coach Brad Pataky, who is entering his first District 6 Class AAA tournament, had a succinct way of describing the postseason.
“It’s the funnest time of the year.”
The fun is set to pick up soon as the Mounties — along with Bellefonte, Bald Eagle Area and State College — begin their run toward the PIAA tournament on Saturday with the District 6 Class AAA tournament at Altoona High School's Fieldhouse.
Pataky and fellow rookie coach Ron Guenot of the Eagles learned their wrestlers’ path to a District 6 title on Tuesday night inside Tyrone High School.
Pataky and Guenot don’t have any top seeds, but both the Red Raiders and Little Lions can claim that distinction.
Bellefonte finished the season 19-2 and relied on senior leadership from Brock Port and Chase Gardner. Port and Gardner claimed the top spots at 145 and 152 pounds, respectively, after qualifying for the PIAA tournament last season.
Port is also looking to pick up his fourth straight District 6 title. He is the regining 145-pound champion and won the 120-pound title his freshman year and the 132-pound title his sophomore campaign.
Joining Port and Gardner at the top is sophomore Cole Stewart at 106 pounds.
“Those guys have put in the work all year,” Red Raiders coach Mike Maney said. “Port and Gardner we expect that from those guys. They’ve been to states before. Stewart was close last year and had a solid year so it’s credit to the work they put in to the season. After this seeding meeting, really, numbers don’t matter any more. It’s just getting ready for that first match and go from there.”
Bellefonte also had Alex Coppolo (113 pounds) and Keegan Rothrock (132) earn No. 2 seeds.
State College received solid performances all year long from the heavier weights and it paid off.
Three of the four Little Lion wrestlers in upper weights had a No. 1 or No. 2 next to their name. Cole Urbas and Pete Haffner were awarded the No. 1 seeds at 182 and 220 pounds, respectively.
Urbas, who is 18-0 this season, was able to collect the top spot in his sophomore campaign after finishing second in the district last year. Urbas’ ranking is special to Little Lions coach Ryan Cummins.
“For a young kid, he is mature,” Cummins said. “He knows what he needs to do. He knows he has to do those extra things that people don’t like to do. He is a kid who just absorbs everything. He comes in every day, never looks for the easy way out and always trying to improve every day.”
State College’s Drew Linnes, who started out as a No. 3 seed at 285 pounds, worked his way up to No. 2.
Hollidaysburg’s Hunter Gill was the top seed before the seeding meeting began. However, since Gill lost to Linnes and Central Mountain’s Richard Thompson during the regular season, he dropped down to No. 3. Thompson became the new No. 1.
BEA had a trio of wrestlers come up just short of the top line of the bracket.
Seth Koleno, who is the regining 132-pound district champion, received the No. 2 spot at 138 pounds behind Hollidaysburg’s Nathan Swartz. Lucas Holderman and Gage McClenahan also join Koleno as No. 2 seeds at 120 and 145 pounds, respectively.
McClenahan’s seeding means for a potential match with Port in the finals. It was a match that Guenot was hoping to see in the regular season but feels it’s going to take some time to see that on Saturday.
“I don’t really want to comment on that because you got to take them one at a time,” Guenot said with a chuckle. “The semifinals matchup, a possible matchup at that weight with Long, that is going to be a big matchup there. Hopefully, we come out on that right end of that and we do get to see a McClenahan-Port match. I think it will be exciting. We are just going to concentrate on taking that weight one at a time.”
For Pataky, he leads P-O into his first district tournament without one its most experienced wrestlers in Matt Johnson.
Pataky said that Johnson received results of a MRI on his shoulder on Tuesday, and he’s finished for the season with what he believed was a torn labrum.
Pataky does have a No. 2 seed in Micah Sidorick at 220 pounds. Nothing excited him more than to see where Sidorick ended up.
“He is just an example of a kid that you want to have on your team,” Pataky said. “When you see him having success, it just fills your heart with even more gratitude for the type of person he is. To see him going into this postseason and knowing that he is capable of a lot more than he has based on his talent, it gives you a lot of excitement coming into the postseason.”
Most of the Mounties wrestlers are in the lower part of the bracket. However, Pataky is focused on his guys being excited to wrestle.
“What’s nice about this time of the year is that it doesn’t matter if you had a winning record or a losing record,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you lost to a guy you should have beat. It is a completely different season. It’s almost like your slate is wiped clean besides your ranking and your record.
“You have a fresh start of beating guys you lost to and even doing more than that. It’s nice that there is no pressure. There shouldn’t be any pressure in this time of year because any body can be beaten in any given day.”
District 6 Class AAA Tournament
When: Saturday, First session, 9:30 a.m.; Second session, 6:15 p.m.
Where: Altoona High School’s Fieldhouse
Radio: 970 WBLF-AM, 1260 WPHB-AM, 106.3 WBLF-FM
Live updates: Flowrestling.org