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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Semifinal 1/31/2012

Conemaugh Township's Tanner Cahill talks about
winning the 145-pound Thomas tournament title.

First Period 
Stars and studs: Chestnut Ridge 113-pounder Trent Crouse was the talk of the Thomas tournament and almost certainly would have walked away with the Outstanding Wrestler award if they'd given one. That's what happens when you're the sixth seed, dominate a returning state placewinner in the semifinals like Crouse did to Beth-Center's Zach Swarrow, then knock off another PIAA medalist in Bedford's Ryan Easter in the finals. It capped a strange eight-day period for Crouse. He was one of the heroes in Chestnut Ridge's victory over Somerset in the Richland Coaches Duals, as he pinned Damian Jano to clinch the title, then lost to Jano a few days later when the Golden Eagles got revenge. ... Cambria Heights 126-pounder Joe Davis has flown under the radar somewhat this season. The spotlight doesn't shine on Patton that often, and when it does, it's often focused on teammate Ryan Dupas. Part of the problem is that there aren't that many highly ranked 126-pounders in the area for Davis to prove himself against, but he's 20-1 this season after beating Bedford's Toby Brett for the Thomas title, with his lone loss coming to Hempfield's Joey Allesandro. ... Conemaugh Township 145-pounder Tanner Cahill had a rough calendar year in 2011. He didn't make it to states during his sophomore season after qualifying as a freshman, broke his arm in summer wrestling, then suffered a season-ending injury in football season. He was back in time for the start of wrestling season, but he just now looks to be hitting his stride and getting his wind back. His 11-7 decision of Tri-Valley's Blake Bowman in the Thomas finals shows he might be back to the promising form he showed as a freshman.
Upset-minded: There were plenty of candidates at the Thomas tournament, but can this really go to anyone other than Conemaugh Township's Kris Knotts? He entered the tournament at the No. 15 seed with a 5-2 record, in large part because he hadn't been able to break into the Indians' lineup. After pinning Mount Pleasant's Andy Yoder in a pigtail match, he stunned second-seeded Kody Osselburn of Northern Garrett, who was a state placewinner in Maryland last season. Conemaugh Township coach Jarod Feathers called Knotts a "match-changer" because he has the ability to be on his back one second and put his opponent on his back the next. Unfortunately for Knotts, he couldn't continue the streak, as he was pinned by Richland's Nick Naglic and Beth-Center's Jason Stay to fall a match short of placing. But that doesn't take away from his victory over Osselburn.
Second Period
On deck: Another week, another great slate for area wrestling. In addition to the District 6 duals, which begin today at Westmont and West Branch, there's plenty of intrigue in North Star, where the Cougars will host Somerset in a match that will go a long way in shaping the District 5 bracket.
The duals really heat up on Wednesday, with Cambria Heights at Mount Union in what should be much more interesting than your normal 8 vs. 1 match, giving all of the storylines surrounding it. Plus, Richland makes its first appearance in the duals under coach Tom Smith when the Rams visit Huntingdon.
District 5's quarterfinals will be held on Thursday in what is easily the most hotly contested race in the history of the event.
Saturday brings the championships in Districts 5 and 6. District 5 will be at Bedford, assuming the Bisons get past their quarterfinal opponent - which is no sure thing if it happens to be a bad matchup like Berlin Brothersvalley - while District 6 will make its customary trip to Tyrone for the semifinals and finals.

District 6 Class AAA Duals

No. 6 Bald Eagle Area at No. 3 Westmont Hilltop, 7 p.m.
District 6 Class AA Duals 
No. 7 Moshannon Valley at No. 2West Branch, 7 p.m.
Regular Season
Greater Johnstown at Altoona, 6:30 p.m.
Portage at Bellwood-Antis, 7 p.m.
United at Cambria Heights, 7 p.m.
Somerset at North Star, 7 p.m.
Ligonier Valley at Northern Cambria, 7 p.m.

Wednesday District 6 Class AAA Duals 
No. 5 Bellefonte at No. 4 Philipsburg-Osceola, 7 p.m. 
District 6 Class AA Duals

No. 8 Cambria Heights at No. 1 Mount Union, 7 p.m..
No. 5 Richland at No. 4 Huntingdon, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Juniata at No. 3 Blairsville, 7 p.m.

District 5 Class AA Duals
Quarterfinals, at higher seeds
Regular Season
United at Blairsville, 7 p.m.
North Star at Shade, 7 p.m.

Friday Moshannon Valley at Cambria Heights, 7 p.m.

District 5 Class AA Duals
At highest remaining seed
District 6 Class AAA and Class AA Duals
At Tyrone
Regular SeasonForest Hills, United at Elderton Duals

Third Period
Duals debate: Because it's an individual sport, wrestling has been able to avoid much of the controversy that surrounds college football and college basketball. No haggling about BCS standings or bubble teams here. Just solve it on the mat. You think you're better than me? Prove it.
Of course, there have been some heated debates over the years about who's the No. 1 seed in a tournament or whether Kid A should have to face Guy B in the first round, but it all comes out in the wash, as the saying goes. If you're good enough, you can fight  your way through the bracket and win a title.
At least that was the case when it was just about individual wrestling.
While entertaining and engaging for fans, the dual meet championships have brought the seamier side of sports to the mat. It's not so simple any more. We can't just throw everybody into a gym, roll out the mats and determine who's best anymore. There are too many teams to allow into the dual-meet tournaments.
Now we have to determine which teams belong. And how do we go about doing that? Do we credit teams for all of the dual meets they wrestle - like District 6 does - even if that means piling up victories against the Weak Sisters of the Poor in dual-meet tournaments? Or do we go with the District 5 system, which says that Somerset's victory over Chestnut Ridge last week counts, but that the Lions' win over the Golden Eagles three days earlier doesn't?
Do we go by opponents' winning percentage or total wins? Do Class AAA wins count for more than Class AA ones, even if the AA team is better than its big-school counterpart?
And that's not even thinking about a scenario like what happened with the District 6 Class AA dual-meet tournament last weekend. That's when things get really ugly. Cambria Heights wanted out of the duals, in part because the Highlanders don't really have much of a chance to beat Mount Union. Claysburg-Kimmel could possibly beat the Trojans in a dual but won't find out unless Cambria Heights drops out. CH coach Mike Eckenrode gives CK's Dave Marko the opportunity to prove his team's worth, as the Highlanders tell District 6 that would like to opt out of the tournament. That's all well and good until word reaches the D6 offices that Marko talked Eckenrode into giving up the spot - which both coaches flatly deny - and the district says Cambria Heights has to wrestle or Mount Union receives a forfeit.
No talking to the coaches, no concern for the wrestlers or what's best for the district, just a decision that Cambria Heights didn't opt out in a timely manner - even though there's never been policy like this before and no one says what a "timely manner" is, just that it's less than it took Cambria Heights to decide.
What the BCS - oops, I mean district - says goes. No matter what.
But, at least we can crown a team champion. And then do it again a few weeks later at the individual tournament, even if it's a different team.
Which one is Boise State again?


  1. Great blog today... (and everyday)... are you covering Westmont v BEA tonight? and if you are, will you have chat up?

  2. Thanks for the kind words. No, I won't be at Westmont tonight. My boss - editor Chip Minemyer - is a BEA grad and was interested in seeing it anyway, so he said he'd cover it. And Westmont is a difficult place to chat from. It's nearly impossible to get a cellphone signal there, which I need to get online (unless I'm allowed to tap into a school's wireless system).
    I'm off today, but plan on checking out the Somerset-at-North Star match in District 5.