High School Sports

High school wrestling: District 6 team duals tourney ready to kick off

The scales in Wingate better be sturdy.

Philipsburg-Osceola plans on weighing in its entire team before Tuesday’s District 6 Class AAA team tournament opener against Bald Eagle Area.

And by entire, the Mounties mean every wrestler on their 22-athlete roster, not just the 14 starters. The decision provides lineup flexibility, an increasingly valued trait in dual meet wrestling, where one favorable matchup can alter an outcome.

P-O coach Tim McCamley doesn’t necessarily enjoy the guessing associated with the team postseason, but winning postseason matches often depends on a lineup decision or the pre-meet disk flip.

“Weighing-in 14 kids and saying, ‘here they are’ would be a lot easier on the coach,” McCamley said. “But then you would have people saying, ‘You should have bumped this kid or done that.’ Moving around can be difficult for some kids even though it may look like a good strategy. They get it stuck in their heads where they are going to be wrestling.”

Possible lineup juxtaposition adds to the intrigue surrounding the opening round of the district team tournament, which includes meets involving county teams Tuesday at three sites. Bellefonte (11-3) plays host to Altoona (5-8) in the other Class AAA opener. Penns Valley (17-3) travels to Juniata, where it faces Penn Cambria (11-8) in a Class AA opener at 6 p.m. The winner advances to wrestle host Juniata (19-3) at 8 p.m. The Class AAA meets begin at 7 p.m.

Should the Rams beat the Panthers, all of Tuesday’s meets are all rematches.

BEA (8-2) defeated P-O (7-4) 39-25 last Tuesday, Bellefonte edged Altoona 39-33 at the Red Raider Rumble on Jan. 19 and Penns Valley handled Juniata 42-27 on Jan. 12. Coaches aren’t expecting similar box scores.

“I’m pretty sure we’re not going to be seeing the same 14 matchups,” McCamley said.

Some programs even have assistants or volunteers who specialize in examining potential matchups. Penns Valley coach Joel Brinker spent part of Monday evening discussing potential matchups with Aaron Smith, who helps the Rams’ coaching staff study opponents.

“It’s funny,” Brinker said during a phone interview Monday night. “I’m talking to (Smith) and he’s breaking down everything they might throw at us. We’re going back and forth and talking a lot about what Juniata might do. They have to gamble a little bit. We’re looking at every scenario.”

The fifth-seeded Rams won eight bouts, including five by fall, in their first meeting against the fourth-seeded Indians. Penns Valley hasn’t encountered 12th-seeded Penn Cambria this season. Juniata, which has won 14 straight duals, received a bye into the quarterfinals, giving wrestlers and coaches another opportunity to scout the Rams.

“I think the only disadvantage is that we are not at home,” said Brinker, whose team dropped to the No. 5 seed after losing close duals to Huntingdon and West Branch last week. “But I don’t think wrestling first really helps or hurts us. I like the idea of the guys getting warmed up before wrestling another match.”

The Class AAA openers are one-dual affairs.

The Bellefonte-Altoona meet meet features some of the district’s top Class AAA wrestlers in the Red Raiders’ Luke Leathers (106 pounds), Trevor Corl (120), Nick Shawley (170) and Garrett Poorman (285) and the Mountain Lions’ D.J. Hollingshead (132), T.J. Brandt (138), Mante Barnes (195) and Austin Rosenberry (285). Bellefonte won eight bouts in the first meeting with the Mountain Lions.

“You have a good scouting report on them,” Red Raiders coach Mike Maney said, “but I’m sure Altoona’s coach will try to make some different moves to make up some points on their end.”

The winner faces second-seeded Mifflin County in Saturday’s semifinals at Tyrone. Bellefonte was scheduled to wrestle Shikellamy on Tuesday. The Big 7 dual was postponed until Feb. 5.

“We would have had a match Tuesday either way,” Maney said. “It would have been nice to sit back, rest and scout. That has some advantages. But at the same time, you don’t want too much time off. There are pros and cons to both situations.”

Top-seeded Central Mountain, the five-time defending champion, meets the P-O-BEA winner in Saturday’s semifinals. P-O is only District 6 team to defeat Central Mountain since 2007. The Mounties edged the Wildcats 32-30 last month. Central Mountain defeated BEA 37-21 earlier this month.

Neither P-O nor BEA has started analyzing Central Mountain’s lineup. A few moves might be all it takes for P-O to reverse last week’s 14-point loss to BEA.

“I think what happened last week works to our advantage,” McCamley said. “We have had a little more intensity in the room. We have something to prove. It’s a revenge type of thing.”