Centre County crowned three individual champions and will send 23 wrestlers to the Class AAA Northwest Regional Tournament next weekend. But, after the dust had settled Saturday on the District 6 Class AAA Championships, only one of the four coaches seemed satisfied, or even really pleased.
Bald Eagle Area’s freshman 126-pounder Seth Koleno and junior 285-pounder Josh Fye and Bellefonte sophomore 132-pounder Brock Port won championships. Five other county wrestlers lost in the finals.
Central Mountain ran away with the team title, amassing 232.5 points and crowning three champs and six runners-up. Mifflin County, with four champs and a runner-up, was second with 174.5 points. Bellefonte was third with 153.5 points. Altoona was the surprise of the tournament. Even though the Mountain Lions only finished fourth with 149.5 points, Altoona crowned four champions for the first time since 1981.
Mifflin County 145-pounder Hayden Hidlay was voted the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler for the second straight year. He won his third title, defeating three-time champ Trevor Corl of Bellefonte in the final. Central Mountain’s Doug Buckwalter was voted the Coach of the Year.
The tournament was wrestled without its customary large afternoon break with the snow that was forecasted for the area.
Red Raiders Aaron Witherite (120), Luke Leathers (126) and Corl (145) all lost in the finals, as did Philipsburg-Osceola’s Dakota Weitosh (138) and Nick Patrick (160).
Bellefonte will send eight wrestlers to regionals. In addition to its finalists, the Red Raiders qualified Chase Gardner (3rd at 138), Nate Rosenberger (3rd at 152), Dillon Kephart (3rd at 182) and Shafiq Blake (4th at 106).
“That last round was a little bit tough to swallow when you go 1-3 in the finals and lose some tough matches in the consolations,” Red Raiders coach Mike Maney said. “You always want to get some momentum going into regionals. In some spots, we wrestled well and in some spots we didn’t.
“At this level, you have to be ready every single match and compete for every minute. The guys who did that are moving on and finished high.”
State College will bring seven third-place finishers back to the Altoona Field House in Adam Stover (106), Anthony Myers (126), Dalton Barger (145), William Roeshot (170), Cory Dreibelbis (195), Pete Haffner (220) and Jack Vandevort (285).
“I don’t know how they did it, but everyone wrestled great their last match,” Little Lions coach Ryan Cummins said. “This happened at Manheim, too. The guys dropped one early and then wrestled tough coming back through. They stayed true to form. They came back and wrestled tough every match.”
In addition to its two champs, the Eagles also qualified Garrett Rigg (4th at 120) and Mitchell Taylor (4th at 195).
“We had some good matches for those two kids, to get to the finals and to win. That’s the highlight of our weekend,” BEA coach Steve Millward said. “The disappointment is we didn’t get more than four going to regionals. That shows us you have to be ready to wrestle every round. We thought we could have had a few more qualify.”
The Mounties, in addition to their finalists, will also send Levi Hughes (3rd at 132) and Matt Johnson (4th at 113).
“That was not what we expected at all. We didn’t show up today,” Philipsburg-Osceola coach Tim McCamley said. “I guess I’ll take the blame for it because that’s my job to get them ready, and they weren’t ready. They just didn’t seem to have the enthusiasm we needed.
“We had a good week of practice. We had a good night. I have no idea why we didn’t show up today. I don’t understand what happened. There were some good spots, but not a good overall performance today.”
Koleno, seeded second, had a fall and a narrow 4-3 decision over State College’s Myers in the semifinals. Leathers had pinned his way to the final, recording 34 seconds and 1 minute and 47 seconds falls. In the final, though, Koleno was in control throughout in a 4-1 win.
“He’s been wrestling like that all year for us. He just keeps moving and makes it look easy,” Millward said. “I know he puts a lot of energy and time into doing what he does out there. The work he does put in pays off for him. He’s just smooth in what he does on the mat. He’s got really good awareness of his body position.”
Leathers’ loss came on the heels of Witherite’s 2-0 loss to Central Mountain’s Keanan Bottorf.
“Those matches. You have to be ready to wrestle,” Maney said. “We gave up some easy points, I think. At that level, getting the first takedown is extremely important and something we stress.”
Port didn’t have any problem getting the first takedown and many more points after. He rolled up a 16-0 technical fall in 5:22 over Central Mountain’s Colton Weaver. It was the Raider sophomore’s second title. After a bye in the quarterfinals, he earned his finals berth with a 13-2 major decision in the semifinals.
“He’s been doing that all year. He got his offense going. He was tough on top,” Maney said. “He scored a bunch of points and that’s really what it’s about. You always have to be looking to score points.”
Fye was dominant in winning the title. He started his day with the fastest fall of the tournament, just 6 seconds in the quarterfinals. He followed with a pin in 3:18 in the semifinals and a dominant 5-0 shutout in the finals over Central Mountain’s Bryce Hanley.
“Last year, he just didn’t go on the attack as much as he is this year,” Millward said. “The size that he has, he needs to use that to his advantage. He’s doing better at scoring, that’s for sure.”
Weitosh dropped a 3-1 sudden victory decision to Mifflin County freshman Trent Hidlay in the 138-pound final. Teammate Nick Patrick was dominated by Noah Stewart in the 160-pound final, 13-4.
“I don’t think Dakota could solve Hidlay’s stance,” McCamley said. “He’s got a different style about him and Dakota couldn’t find any offense at all.
“Patrick had a good tournament up to the finals. He wrestles the way Nick Patrick wrestles. He was outmanned in the finals.”
Andrew Cohen (152), Jarrett Shreffler (170) and Benjamin Bytheway (220) of Bald Eagle Area, Zach Musser (160) of Bellefonte, Nathan Quick (126), Jacob Maines (145), Ty Laird (152), Joey Bickle (182), Noah Quick (195) and Jarred Anderson of Philipsburg-Osceola and Trey Millward (120) and Jonathan Sponsler (160) of State College all lost their first two matches and were eliminated.
The 23 Centre County regional qualifiers will be right back in Altoona on Friday and Saturday for the regional tournament.