Mo Valley’s Stodart repeats as D-6 champ|
Monday, February 18, 2013
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
ALTOONA - It was a little harder than expected, but Moshannon Valley's James Stodart made school history with his 9-6 win over United's Tyler Oliver on Saturday night in Altoona.
Stodart's decision over the Lions sophomore at 195 pounds didn't come without a fight, but the Black Knight senior became the school's third grappler to earn back-to-back District 6 titles after rallying from a second-period deficit.
The trip to the finals was the third for Stodart, who will look to advance to the state tournament for the second straight year when he travels to the Southwest Regional in Johnstown on March 1 and 2.
Stodart joined Mark Dugan (1977-78) and Ray Albright (1984-85) as the only Mo Valley wrestlers with consecutive district crowns.
Craig Waite has two titles to his credit, but won them in 1988 and 1990.
"That's a great accomplishment," said Mo Valley head coach Justin Fye. "He puts a lot of work into getting to where he is. How many years has there been wrestling at Moshannon Valley and he's the third guy to ever do it.
"It's a great accomplishment, and I give all the credit to him and his practice partners. The guys in the room make him better."
One of those practice partners is classmate Jake Ludwig, who earned his first district title at 220.
Ludwig was the runner-up to Richland's John Rizzo - a 3-time state champion - in 2012, but he wasn't going to be outdone in his second trip.
The Mo Valley senior, who entered the tournament as a No. 3 seed, controlled his bout with Westmont Hilltop's Don Shovestull en route to a 9-5 win.
"I wasn't expecting to win in the finals last year," Ludwig said, "but it made me mad that I was third seed this year. I thought I should have been seeded higher than that, but it made me work hard.
"I just kept him moving and I finished my shots."
Stodart was the more aggressive wrestler in his match, but Oliver came out of a flurry to take a 2-1 lead after the first period.
Oliver opened up a 4-1 lead with a reversal in the second, before Stodart returned the favor and tilted him for nearfall points and a lead he wouldn't relinquish.
"Sometimes you have to win ugly," said Fye. "I still thought he wrestled well because he was the aggressor. He got taken down off his shots.
"He has a good attitude and he doesn't get flustered when he's wrestling. He was down a couple of times, but he wrestled through it. His top has gotten a lot better, and he was able to get that tilt at the end of the second period."
Stodart escaped to open the third, but Oliver didn't back down.
Oliver countered a Stodart attack for two more points, but the experience of the Mo Valley wrestler paid off.
Stodart worked for a reversal to set the final.
Despite having been in situations like this, Stodart admitted he was nervous after Oliver gained the early advantage.
"I wrestled him last year and I did a lot better," Stodart said "I got sick earlier this week and I thought, ‘oh, that's going to come back to bite me.' Luckily, I pulled that one out. It was a very close match.
"When he got the takedown in the first period, there was some panic that set in. I thought, ‘what am I doing wrong?' Once I got my head into the right mode and got going, I thought, ‘alright, game on. It's time to get started.' "
There was no such worry on Ludwig's end, as his four-point headlock gave him a comfortable 5-1 cushion against Shovestull in the second.
Ludwig, who was one win shy of advancing to states last year, extended the lead to 7-2 after Shovestull rolled through the headlock for an escape at the edge of the mat.
Shovestull cut the deficit to 7-5 in the third, but Ludwig took him down one last time to set the final.
"I couldn't have asked for anything more than what he did in his finals match," Fye said. "Once again, he went out there and he was going after it. He has real good hips, so he stays in good position. He capitalized on Shovestull's mistake that one time and put him on his back.
"He was in on some shots, even in deep a couple of times. He's put in a lot of work to get to where he is. Jake was so close (to states last year), so he has it in his mind to work hard to get better and he continues to do that."
Stodart and Ludwig aren't the only Mo Valley wrestlers to advance to the regional tournament, as heavyweight Jack Bunnell wrestled above his seed to earn a fourth-place finish and a trip to Johnstown.
Bunnell overcame a quarterfinal loss to West Branch's Morgan Selepack, the eventual champion, before winning three straight to get to the third-place bout.
Mount Union's Nikolas Smith recorded a fall in that match.
The Knights had a pair of fifth-place efforts from Bryce Bloom (126) and Kent Stewart (182).
Bloom was dropped into the consolation bracket with a semifinal loss and lost his chance at regionals when he was majored by Central's Jordan Quarello.
He avenged the defeats by handling Westmont Hilltop's Steven Zipf, 13-4.
Stewart battled his way through the consolation bracket after falling in the quarters, but was pinned by Cambria Heights' Tyler Crawford with a trip to regionals on the line.
Forest Hills' Cody Law (160) earned the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler award, while West Branch was the team champion.
The Knights were seventh in the team standings, while Glendale was 23rd.
Jon Rojas was the only Viking wrestler to win his fourth-round consolation bout. Rojas pinned Forest Hill's Josh Gould before falling to Quarello in 3:26 in the consolation quarterfinals.