HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING: Athletes hoping to defend district titles
ALTOONA — Already two of the most decorated wrestlers in Blairsville history, Drew Doak and Scott Thompson will each enjoy inside tracks in their pursuits to become the school’s first three-time district champs this weekend.
Doak and Thompson, both juniors, each garnered top seeds for the District 6 Class AA wrestling championships, which will be held today and Saturday at Altoona Field House. The top four wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the PIAA Southwest Regional tournament, which will begin March 1 in Johnstown.
Doak (26-3) and Thompson (28-1) plucked top seeds for the third straight season in their respective weight classes, 152 pounds and 182. Doak, the only wrestler in Blairsville history to claim medals at the PIAA championships in his freshman and sophomore campaigns, won his second consecutive district crown when he outlasted Cambria Heights’ Levi Niebauer, 6-4, in the finals last year.
Doak placed second at the Southwest Regional tournament for the second straight year last year. The nephew of Blairsville’s first 100-match winner, Matt Doak, and the son of the Bobcats’ head coach, D.J. Doak, Drew won his 100th match on Jan. 22 to become the fastest wrestler in school history to reach the plateau. Thompson bested Penns Valley’s Mike Rogers, 8-6, to claim his second straight district title last year.
Thompson, who placed sixth at the PIAA championships as a freshman, suffered a broken wrist early last season, but still placed at the Southwest Regional tournament.
The other area wrestlers to nab top-three seeds were United’s Tyler Oliver and Seth McLendon and Ligonier Valley’s Dalton Clark. Oliver (24-3), a junior, got the No. 3 seed at 195, McLendon (25-3), a senior, landed the No. 3 seed at 220, and Clark (19-10), a sophomore, grabbed the No. 3 seed at 132. Oliver dropped a 9-6 decision to Moshannon Valley’s James Stodart in last year’s District 6 championship bout at 195. He then placed sixth at the Southwest Regional tournament, falling one place shy of qualifying for states.
McLendon placed third in last year’s district tournament at 220 for Penn Cambria. Marion Center senior Brandon Heberling (27-2) not only eclipsed the 100-win plateau this year, he also passed former state champ Cam Plocus on the school’s all-time wins list. The No. 4 seed at 138, Heberling qualified for the Southwest Regional tournament in his freshman and sophomore campaigns before placing fifth and failing to make the cut last year.
Another Marion Center senior who scored his 100th career win this year, Phil Crook (20-3), will aim to punch his third straight ticket to the Southwest Regional tournament. Crook placed fifth at last year’s district tournament and initially failed to qualify for the Southwest Regional tournament. An injury to a regional qualifier in the 152-pound bracket opened the door for Crook to compete in the tournament for the second straight season. He is the No. 6 seed at 160.
Marion Center sophomore David Wiles (24-5) placed fourth last year at 106 and qualified for the Southwest Regional tournament. Wiles was awarded the No. 6 seed at 120. Also, Northern Cambria senior Joey Frontino (13-4) landed the No. 4 seed at 195, United junior Andrew Deitman (23-4) got the No. 5 seed at heavyweight, and Ligonier Valley senior Carlos Chavez (17-5) earned the No. 5 seed at 106.