One day after news became public about Bald Eagle Area’s decision to drop down to Class 2A in wrestling, Philipsburg-Osceola announced that it has followed suit.
Just like the Eagles, the Mounties’ wrestling program will move down a classification — from Class 3A to Class 2A — starting next season. The reclassification will last a minimum two years, at which point the Mounties can re-evaluate whether to continue in Class 2A.
They will still compete in Class 3A this season.
“If we really are doing everything we can for the kids, I think we should provide them with the best opportunity to succeed,” P-O wrestling coach Brad Pataky said Friday night. “And if we’re really doing it for the kids, why not go double-A?
With the pending departures of Bald Eagle Area and Philipsburg-Osceola from Class 3A, the District 6 tournament is set to look a whole lot different. Starting with the 2018-2019 season, there will now be seven teams in Class 3A and 29 squads in 2A.
Pataky said he didn’t realize Bald Eagle Area decided to move down until Thursday, long after P-O made its decision. There was no coordination between the two programs, he said. Over the years, P-O has chosen to compete above its 2A classification — and now, Pataky said, it’s time to try competing where the enrollment numbers say they should.
“Our main reason for going double-A is the kids,” he said, “providing them with more opportunities to excel in their short student-athlete careers at the high school level.”
Pataky said he reached that realization last season, a few weeks after competing against Brookville — which had five wrestlers take part in the state tournament. One of P-O’s wrestlers even beat the state’s No. 5 wrestler at Brookville, and P-O remained competitive in a dual meet until the end of a 47-29 loss.
The Mounties haven’t won a Class 3A district title since 1989. But Pataky sees a lot of potential for P-O to make noise as a 2A program.
And, if P-O tries the lower classification with mixed results, it always has the option after two seasons to move back.
“Right now it’s a two-year experiment,” Pataky added. “We don’t know what the future holds; our goal is to just try to do the best we can and see where it leads us.”