Wrestling Mat-ters by Tom Elling: District 6 chair makes announcements on season
To say that the sports seasons have been some of the strangest and challenging would be a gross understatement. The current situation in PIAA is that the winter sports are shutdown until Jan. 4.
District 6 chair Bill Marshall announced the following:
The PIAA Board of Directors held a work session on Dec. 14 and have a meeting scheduled for Dec. 22. We know and understand that are several questions pertaining to winter sports. District 6 discussed some of these issues at our meeting last week. Things being considered by both PIAA and District 6:
• District deadlines for winter sports pushed back
• Number of practices required for formal competitions when/if we return on January 4
• Number of competitions needed to qualify for District 6 playoffs
• Team wrestling dates
• Site availability
• District 6 teams all starting competitions at different dates
• Spectator limits
• Masking requirements/issues
Naturally, wrestlers, coaches, and fans are in limbo and eager to get the season going even if it mean just a handful of dual meets.
Earlier, the PIAA had unveiled plans to proceed with the season with drastic changes to the post season.
The board passed a one day eight-wrestler bracket for the PIAA tournament. The top four wrestlers out of the new East and West Super Regional will advance to Hershey. The Class AAA West Regional will have the South Central (District 3), South West and North West. The path to Hershey will be much tougher for the West as most of the District 1 and 12 schools have elected to forego the winter sports season.
As it stood before the shutdown, the PIAA Team Wrestling Tournament will be for district champions only. The PIAA Team Championship Tournament will be Class AA on Friday, Feb. 12, and the Class AAA on Saturday, Feb. 13.
The PIAA Tournament will include regional and super-regional tournaments followed by the state tournament. State championship tournament will have eight entries in every weight class. The regional tournament on Feb. 27, Super-regional tournament on March 6, and the PIAA Championships on March 12 and 13.
To date, there has been just one dual meet wrestled in Pennsylvania and that was Brookville at Reynolds, two traditionally top-tier teams in Class AA. The meet was wrestled Friday — prior to the Gov. Tom Wolf shutdown which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday — with Reynolds holding off Brookville, 35-31. The meet was tied at 31 going into the final bout at 132 pounds. Brookville wasn’t able to fill weights at 145 and 152. Brookville had four falls to two for Reynolds.
Wrestling great Dan Gable was presented the Medal of Freedom award by President Trump on Monday, Dec. 7. This is the highest award that a civilian can receive. Anyone following wrestling for a time is certainly aware of Gable, who back in the 1970s was on the staff of Bob Larson’s YMCA wrestling clinic right here in Lock Haven.
Midd-West coach Dale Franquet, who works as a security guard at a prison, was stabbed several times by an inmate. He is currently hospitalized and reportedly will lose one of his eyes. What else can go wrong in 2020?
The PIAA has reduced the weight classes by one this season. There are now 13 weight classes: 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215 and 285.
In case you missed it earlier, Central Mountain middle weight Lane Porter injured his knee during the football season and will miss his senior year. He was a District 6 runner-up last season at 145 pounds with a 27-8 record. He was the District 6 champ his sophomore season.
Central Mountain returns nine wrestlers who had won 19 or more last season and have some very promising prospects joining the team this season. Central Mountain has two returning regional champions in Derek Keen (113) and Nik Miller (195), and a third-place finisher in Taylor Weaver (126). Keen placed eighth in the states.
Other local teams also promise to be strong. Bellefonte (ranked No. 3 in the state by my own PA Wrestling Handbook) returns nine District 6 medalists. Six of those were North West Class AAA Regional placewinners and two — Lane Aikey (120) and Jude Swisher (126) — placed in states. Aikey placed seventh and Swisher placed fourth.
Bald Eagle Area will be led by Coen Bainey (106) and Cooper Gilham (120). Bainey was a District 6 champ and a South West Class AA regional runner-up. Gilham placed second at districts and fourth at regionals.
Jersey Shore has been struggling with numbers, but has five grapplers who have won over 20 matches. Hayden Packer (160) leads the way. He was fourth in the North East Class AA region after placing fifth in District 4. Liam Goodrich (120) and Gabe Andrus (126) also place in the districts.
Sugar Valley Rural Charter will have a new coach in Jason Bilby. Charlie Barner had to give up the position because of his employment demands. Being a very small school, filling a full team is a constant challenge. Corey King at 182 was the lone Phoenix wrestler to place in District 4 sectionals. Dominick Kennedy (138) is the only SVRCS wrestler who had a winning record last season.
No definitive word yet on the collegiate season. Penn State media day has not been announced and in all likelihood will not take place this season.
A good Christmas gift for wrestling fans would be my 2020-21 edition of the PA Wrestling Handbook. It contains 367 pages of information not available in one place anywhere else.
My column will not be weekly until we resume the season. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a much better New Year.