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Mifflin County to be well represented at D6 championships

The District 6 Class 3A championships at the Altoona Fieldhouse today could be a history-making one for Mifflin County.

If the seeds hold out, the Huskies will have six champions, matching a team record set in 2016, and 11 wrestlers moving on to the Northwest Regionals the following week back in Altoona. The record is 12 regional qualifiers set last season.

Bald Eagle Area has the most individual champions with seven in 1997.

Mifflin County, 15-2 in the regular season, has Nic Allison (106), Ethan Kauffman (145), Anson Wagner (152), Trey Kibe (170), Haydn Crum (220) and Blaine Davis (285) seeded first. Getting second seeds are Kyler Everly (138), Trey Shoemaker (160) and Brycen Hassinger (182). Derek Burk (120) and Jacob Krepps (195) are third seeds.

Another piece of good news is the return of freshman Hunter Johnson to the lineup after injuring his shoulder for the second time this season. Johnson mans the fifth seed at 113. Lucas Sheetz (126) is a fifth seed. Marshall Maidens is the eighth seed at 132.

The top four finishers in each weight class advance to regionals.

Don’t be surprised if the Huskies push 12 or 13 out of districts. They are more than capable. It should be a banner day for the Purple and Silver.

Juniata has a solid chance to advance six to regionals. Casey Smith (106), Phaustyn Houtz (182) and Dominik Rowles own fourth seeds, while Cameron Sweigart (120), Chase Willis (170) and Hunter Lucas (285) received fifth seeds and can bust that by placing in the top four.

Southwest

Class 2A Regionals

Three Mount Union wrestlers look to punch their ticket to states at the Southwest Regional Class 2A Tournament in Indiana, PA that began on Friday.

Juniors Bryce Beatty (113) and Clayton Arnold (195) along with senior Jake Ryan (220) survived the first hurdle at districts last week.

Ryan (33-2) finished second in the state a year ago at heavyweight, while Beatty (33-5) was a state qualifier. Arnold (20-13) is the newcomer.

What a difference a year can make. Arnold wrestled up a weight at 220 and went 9-21 in 2019. This year, he’s a top six finish away from states. Just goes to show you what can happen when you stay with something and combine it with hard work.

The top six in each weight advance to the PIAA Class 2A championships in Hershey March 5-7.

Valencia Out at ASU

Stunning news came out of Tempe on Thursday when two-time NCAA champion Zahid Valencia received an indefinite suspension from Arizona State for failing a drug test.

The bigger surprise was the feedback I saw suggesting since it wasn’t a PED issue, it’s not that big of a deal and he shouldn’t receive a suspension.

Correct me if I’m wrong. The last time I checked it’s against NCAA rules to test positive for so-called recreational and performance-enhancing drugs. If you do, you will face the consequences.

Despite his massive talent, Valencia broke the rules and must serve his punishment. He knew they could test him. A massive error in judgment, for sure. We were all young once and did stupid things. Valencia probably didn’t understand the magnitude of his actions. He does now and must live with them. A hard lesson for sure.

With the NCAAs in three weeks, no way will we see Valencia defend his title. The aftermath and worst part for the Sun Devil senior is watching his college career end the way it did.

Kibe to PSU

The most exciting news for the area came this week when Kibe announced his verbal commitment to Penn State.

He projects at 174/184 in college. The Nittany Lions now have the top two 170-pounders in the nation, both juniors, in No. 1 Alex Facundo of Michigan and No. 2 Kibe.

Kibe’s decision speaks volumes to his toughness and character. Many top wrestlers avoid Penn State because of all the talent in the room. Most want to start right away and aren’t willing to be patient and grow into a true Division I wrestler.

Not Trey, he embodies coach Kirby Martin and his iron sharpens iron philosophy. He knows you have to wrestle the best to be the best and that takes time and massive doses of hard work.

Look for Kibe to redshirt and possibly grayshirt when the time comes. That’s down the road though. The focus is on becoming the third two-time PIAA champion in county history.

Brooks Continues

to Impress

The more experience Aaron Brooks gets for Penn State, the more my man-crush on him grows. He’s lived up to the heavy rep placed on him by the media.

His low single is as smooth as melted butter on popcorn. Just ask Ohio State’s Rocky Jordan. Brooks’ defense is spot on and he has strong hips. He doesn’t get nervous and has a powerful mat presence.

He had one hiccup against Taylor Venz of Nebraska and since then the Nittany Lion freshman owns two major decisions and two decision victories over four ranked opponents. Brooks is 11-1 since Cael Sanderson burned his redshirt with wins over six ranked foes.

If you want to have a chance of beating this kid, you better do it now because when he matures and gets even stronger, Mr. Brooks could end up being one of the all-time greats.

Team USA Squad

Announced

USA Wrestling announced the Team USA squad for the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic on Tuesday. The all-star team takes on Team Pennsylvania in the 45th annual meeting on Saturday, March 14, at Pitt’s Fitzgerald Field House.

Team PA will release its lineup after the PIAA championships end on March 7.

Below is the Team USA squad, along with InterMat rankings as of Wednesday:

120: No. 10 Ryan Miller (Blair Academy, N.J.)

126: No. 3 Eddie Ventresca (Pope John XXIII, N.J.)

132: No. 2 Dominick Serrano (Windsor, Colo.)

138: No. 3 Frankie Tal-Shahar (American Heritage, Fla.) and No. 5 Cael Happel (Lisbon, Iowa)

145: No. 3 Austin Boone (Lowell, Mich.)

152: No. 1 Chase Saldate (Gilroy, Calif.)

160: No. 1 Keegan O’Toole (Arrowhead, Wis.)

170: No. 5 (at 182) Gavin Kane (Cambridge, Ga.)

182: No. 3 John Poznanski (Colonia, N.J.)

195: No. 4 Silas Allred (Shenandoah, Ind.) and No. 5 Gabe Christenson (Southeast Polk, Iowa)

220: No. 1 Braxton Amos (Parkersburg South, W. Va.)

One name that should jump out to Penn State fans is Austin Boone, who committed to the Nittany Lions two weeks ago. Amos, headed to Wisconsin, is the top overall wrestler in the Class of 2020.

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