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Tom Elling on wrestling: Wrestling is back in the area

Wrestling is back! At least for a while and with several modifications.

While I don’t have the abbreviated schedules for the area teams, I will bring those you as the season unfolds.

You have probably read or heard that the number of pre-competitions have been reduced for this season only.

District 6 wrestling chair Phil Riccio of Altoona released the tentative plans for the District 6 individual tournament on Monday.

Riccio — after consultation with several of the district coaches — laid out the following schedule:

Class AA

Four Sectionals held on Feb. 16. The top 2 advance to districts and will wrestle for a true second.

• Section 1: Bellwood, Huntingdon, Juniata Valley, Mount Union, Southern Huntingdon and Tyrone.

• Section 2: BEA, Mo Valley, Philisburg-Osceola, Penns Valley, Saint Joe’s and West Branch.

• Section 3: Cambria Heights, Central, Central Cambria, Claysburg, Glendale, Penn Cambria and Portage.

• Section 4: Blairsville, Bishop McCort, Forest Hills, Marion Center, Richland, United and Westmont-Hilltop

The district tournaments will be Feb. 20.

The regional tournaments will be Feb. 27.

The super regionals will be March 6.

The PIAA semifinals and finals will be an eight-man bracket on March 12.

Class AAA

The district tournaments will be Feb. 20.

The regional tournaments will be Feb. 27.

The super regionals will be March 6.

The PIAA semifinals and finals will be an eight-man bracket on March 13.

The team championships have been postponed to a date after the individual one.

My personal take is that the team tournament will not take place this season.

COLLEGE WRESTLING

The Big Ten schedule was released this past weekend. Penn State will open at Rutgers on Saturday, Jan. 16. They will host Michigan State on Sunday, Jan. 24.

According to Pat Donghia, PSU assistant director strategic communications and former LHU sports information director, no fans and limited media and photographers will be the rule. I read that to mean I will not be getting a photo pass this season, which makes me wonder if I do the following year if I’ll be able to get up and down from the Rec Hall floor without my usual aplomb and grace.

Pitt won their opening dual meet with a come-back win over former LHU NCAA champ Cary Kolat’s Navy team, 22-14. At 174-lbs, former Chestnut Ridge state champ Jared McGill (Pitt) edged Dean Caravela (Navy), 3-2. McGill is the nephew of former Lock Haven State Teacher College wrestler Barry Burtnett and former Lock Haven High School teacher Fred Burtnett.

Iowa State defeated Wartburg, 35-6, last weekend. David Carr (157), brother of LHU assistant Nate Carr, Jr., won his bout by a 1-0 tech fall.

An interesting sidelight was that there were 1,138 fans in attendance. (Things that make you go hmmm.)

North Carolina State defeated Gardner-Webb, 42-0. Two central PA wrestlers did well. Freshman Ed Scott, a two-time PIAA champ form DuBois, (149 pounds) and Hayden Hidlay (former PIAA champ and All-American) both earned falls. Hidlay is ranked second at 157. Trent Hidlay (Hayden’s younger brother) was out due to injury.

The Hofstra at Lehigh wrestling scheduled for Sat. Jan. 2 was postponed because of a Hofstra team member testing positive for COVID-19.

HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS

Welcome to Central Mountain new athletic director Stephen Hafele. He started his new position on Dec. 15 and replaces George Bidwell. Those will be big shoes to fill.

Hafele comes to us from Central Dauphin where he had served as a assistant junior high wrestling coach earlier in his career.

State qualifier Hayden Cunningham of State College will miss the 2020-21 season for the Little Lions. He is recovering from an ACL injury.

Hayden is the son of PSU assistant coach Casey Cunningham. State College also will benefit from the transfer of senior Carson Manville (172). Fans might remember Manville being on Wyoming Seminary’s indepdent team a couple years ago. He won a Minnesota state title last season.

Former Bald Eagle-Nittany standout Joel Brinker is in his 15th season as coach at Penns Valley, which makes him the dean of the Centre County wrestling coaches.

Mike Maney (former BEA state champ and LHU All-American) will once again lead Bellefonte, The Red Raiders return five state qualifiers in Aidan O’Shea, Lane Aikey, Jude Swisher, Ethan Richner and Ethan Rossman.

The Raiders won the Northwest Class AAA Regional championship last year.

BEA coach Ron Guenot has several young, talented wrestlers back. The loss of team leader and PIAA champ Gage McClenahan will be hard to replace.

Central Mountain coach Biff Walizer looks to have a balanced squad and will have a few very talented newcomers try to make the team. The reduction of the weight classes to 13 may find one of the solid upperweights serving in a back-up role.

Wrestling legend Dan Hodge passed away over the Christmas break. Hodge, who was 88, was a three-time NCAA champ for Oklahoma and was a good will ambassador for wrestling. The Hodge Trophy, given to the outstanding collegiate wrestler in Division I each year, is named after him.

Longtime BEA asst coach Lloyd Rhoades lost his wife Eileen this past week. She had been a wonderful supporter of wrestling, assisting with the PA Chapter of the NWHOF and a big Penn State rooter. Our wrestling family lost a truly dedicated enthusiast and a terrific person.

BAD NEWS, GOOD NEWS

The bad news — PJWs are cancelled this year.

The good news — Wrestling entrepreneur Frank Vulcano, Jr. has established a tournament to take the vacant spot.

Vulcano names it the Keystone State Championships. There are East and West qualifiers with the finals scheduled for April 1-3 at the Monroeville Convention Center. Vulcano is also the innovator behind one of the toughest tournaments in the country: The Powerade, which was relocated from Canon McMillan to the Monroeville site.

Central Mountain and Bellefonte are among the teams schedule to participate Jan. 29-31. The Powerade will be streamed exclusively by FloWrestling, which mean our crack team from Lock Haven will not be there to announce.

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