High School Sports

High school wrestling: Time to sort through District 6 Class AAA field

December introduced us to two District 6 Class AAA wrestling realities.

The team and individual tournaments should be fascinating and the district lacks a major player on the state level.

Let’s bury the second part first.

Remember, the district’s haul of big schools has been trimmed to nine. Whether it’s Bald Eagle Area, State College, Bellefonte, Philipsburg-Osceola, or recently Central Mountain, the area almost annually produces a team capable of rolling with the state’s — and often — the nation’s best.

The King of the Mountain, Powerade, Manheim and Conestoga Valley Tournaments proved the district lacks a state-title contender. The district didn’t have a top-five showing in the quartet of postseason primers. No District 6 team entered the Walsh Ironman or Beast of the East Tournaments.

Imagine if Districts 3 or 7 had just nine Class AAA programs. Lean years might be abundant.

In short, those who follow District 6 Class AAA wrestling are spoiled. The district has finished winless at the state duals just twice in the event’s 14-year history.

Excellent work. But now it’s time to examine the immediate future.

Even without a state-caliber team, the next 29 days offer serious intrigue.

The team duals race might be wide open. Central Mountain represented the district at the PIAA Class AAA teal duals every year from 2008-12. The Wildcats suffered a rare local gaffe last month, falling 32-30 in their dual meet opener at Philipsburg-Osceola. The loss was Central Mountain’s first against a District 6 opponent since falling to Bald Eagle Area in 2007.

A sign of vulnerability? Or an event that motivates a young team?

Central Mountain went 5-0 in last week’s Bob Rohm Duals at Bloomsburg University. The Wildcats meet undefeated Bellefonte in their own gym tonight.

Bellefonte (3-0) and Bald Eagle Area (2-0) entered January undefeated. The Eagles wrestled Altoona on Thursday night. P-O is 1-2 yet defeating Central Mountain and winning last week’s Brockway Big Dog Tournament should energize the Mounties.

Mifflin County leads the district with eight victories. The Huskies suffered their only loss to District 1 Downingtown East at the Garden Spot Duals. Mifflin County competes in the rugged Mid-Penn Conference, which meant a trip to chiseled Cumberland Valley on Thursday night. The Huskies visit Central Dauphin later this month.

The following dual meets could help shape the District 6 Class AAA team race. The district semifinals and finals are Feb. 2. The district sends just one Class AAA team to the PIAA duals.

•  Bellefonte at Central Mountain, tonight. First chance for Bellefonte’s young lineup to implement lessons learned at last week’s Powerade Tournament. First chance for Wildcats to wrestle a dual meet in their own gym.

•  Central Mountain at Mifflin County, Jan. 9. Winner could be positioned to earn the top seed for the district duals. Daulton Wilson, Hayden Hidlay, Isaac Underhill and Noah Stewart give the Huskies a polished quartet of young lightweights capable of scoring significant dual meet points.

•  Bald Eagle Area at Bellefonte, Jan. 10. Neighbors seeking first-round byes in the district team tournament. Middle of a four-dual, eight-day stretch for the Eagles.

•  Bald Eagle Area at Central Mountain, Jan. 12. Another Friday, another potentially wild match in Mill Hall. The 195-pound bout between BEA senior Aaron Varner and Central Mountain senior Blaze Buckwalter could play a big part in the outcome.

•  Bald Eagle Area at Philipsburg-Osceola, Jan. 22. Two days after returning from the Escape the Rock Tournament, the Eagles face one of their biggest rivals. P-O won last year’s meet 37-36.