Wrestling’s annual dual meet rush should provide a weekend boon to central Pennsylvania hoteliers.
In an effort to conduct multiple matches before district team tournaments begin, programs are flocking to events such as Saturday’s Red Raider Rumble at Bellefonte High School.
Besides boasting one of the state’s snappiest names — Bellefonte should explore obtaining copyrights — the Rumble has evolved into a solid 16-team event. The tournament started in 2011 and survived this season’s numbers crunch caused by the PIAA trimming competition points.
Bellefonte and State College give the tournament a local presence. Altoona adds another District 6 school. DuBois, Punxsutawney and Cathedral Prep are teams the District 6 programs will encounter at the Northwest Regional.
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“It’s going to be nice for us because we will see a lot of the teams at regionals,” Bellefonte coach Mike Maney said.
Bellefonte wrestles Crestwood, Altoona and Cathedral Prep in pool matches. Cathedral Prep was the tournament’s final entry. The Ramblers had three competition points available because snow prevented them from attending last month’s Manheim Tournament. Needing a 16th team for the duals, Maney contacted Cathedral Prep’s coaching staff shortly after learning of the Rambler’s holiday ordeal.
State College meets Midd-West, Pittston and 2011 champion Fauquier (Va.) in its pool. Fauquier is coached by former Bald Eagle Area wrestler Doug Fisher.
DuBois (4-2), which features seven 2012 regional qualifiers, is the favorite to claim this year’s team title. Bellefonte (5-2), Cathedral Prep (8-5), Pittston (7-3) and Downingtown West (15-6) could push DuBois.
District 3 Exeter Township, which fell to Central Mountain in last year’s final, returns to the tournament. Hazleton, Pius X, Quakertown and James Wood (Va.) are also in the field.
The tournament begins at 9 a.m. The final and third-place match are scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Times are tentative and rounds might begin earlier or later depending on mat availability.
Similar tournaments are being contested throughout the District 4-6-9 corridor this weekend.
The massive Richland Duals started Friday in the Johnstown suburbs. The tournament’s field has decreased from 35 to 28 teams. The field is littered with District 6 Class AA teams, including Huntingdon, which defeated Philipsburg-Osceola in the finals of last weekend’s Juniata Duals.
Speaking of Juniata, the Indians are hosting a dual meet tournament for a second straight weekend. Mount Union, Towanda, Biglerville, Freedom, Mount Carmel, Trinity, Hamburg, East Pennsboro and West Perry are competing Saturday in Mifflintown.
Fifteen miles up Route 322, Mifflin County will host the six-team Husky Duals on Saturday. Conestoga Valley, Pen Argyl, Penn Manor, Wellsboro and Souderton are visiting Lewistown. Mifflin County is competing with Central Mountain for the top seed in the District 6 Class AAA duals.
To Bellefonte’s west, Clearfield and Brookville are staging dual meet tournaments. West Branch is one of 10 teams competing in Saturday’s Bison Duals at Clearfield. The Warriors are competing with Penns Valley, Huntingdon and Mount Union for the top seed in the District 6 Class AA duals. Port Allegany, General McLane, Peters Township, Sharpsville, Curwensville, Valley, Montoursville and Pleasant Valley are other Bison Duals entries.
Those wandering farther west along Interstate 80 will find an intimate event regarded as one of the state’s best dual meet tournaments. Resurgent Brookville hosts its Ultimate Duals on Saturday. A PIAA duals primer for the state’s top Class AA programs, Boyertown gives the tournament a Class AAA presence. Reynolds, Saegertown, Mifflinburg and Hanover are also in the six-team field.
Jersey Shore, one of Bellefonte’s Big 7 partners, conducts its annual duals Saturday. Warrior Run coach Wayne Smythe can join Pennsylvania’s 500-win club with one victory at the tournament. Canton, Cedar Cliff, Central Dauphin East, Greensburg Salem, Muncy, Tunkhannock, Wallenpaupack, Western Wayne, Phoenixville and Clarion are also traveling to western Lycoming County.
So what’s at stake for the 88 teams participating in the seven grueling tournaments?
Many programs are jockeying for position in upcoming district team tournaments. District 6, for example, will set its team tournament field by the end of next week. A 5-0 weekend could secure a first-round home match or even better — an opening round bye. The District 6 team duals begin Jan. 30.
Teams with sub-.500 records are already preparing wrestlers for the individual postseason, a demanding three- or four-step process beginning next month. Coaches from thin or struggling teams might execute some wild maneuvers this weekend to challenge their best wrestlers.
Solid as a rock
Individual tournaments still exist, and Bald Eagle Area is participating in one of the state’s best.
The Eagles are one of 32 teams entered in the Escape the Rock Tournament at Council Rock South. The two-day event begins Saturday and ends Sunday. This marks the first time since BEA competed in the 2007 Beast of the East Tournament that a Centre County team will wrestle on a Sunday.
The Eagles’ Jake Taylor (third) and Aaron Varner (sixth) placed in last year’s tournament. Taylor carries a 15-0 record at 182 pounds into this weekend, which might include a showdown against Norristown’s Brett Harner. Taylor is ranked seventh nationally by InterMat. Harner is ranked fourth.
Central Mountain, Bethlehem Catholic, Delaware Valley, Chambersburg, Parkland, Owen J. Roberts and Caesar Rodney (Del.) are other teams in the loaded field.