PUNXSUTAWNEY — Junior Carl Langley is the top seed at 160 pounds and is one of Punxsy's four heavier weights in position to advance past today's District IX Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships in Clarion.
Langley is joined by teammates Josh Neal (171 pounds), Tige Woodson (189) and Tyler Titus (215) as the Chucks' upper weights to compete today. All three are top-three seeds, and the top-three place-winners advance to regionals next weekend in Altoona.
Punxsy will not have a heavyweight at districts.
Langley (16-14) is one of Punxsy's four No. 1 seeds, joining Kody Young, Seth Spack and Nathan McGregor.
The junior earned the top seed with a fall in 3:15 Feb. 15 over the No. 2 seed, Bradford's Dylan Lamberson, but Punxsy head coach Eric Eddy said that Langley won't be able to coast onto the top step of the 160-pound podium.
"That No. 1 seed, you can look at that either way," Eddy said. "I hate to say that seeds don't matter, because they obviously do because of the byes you need. But where they don't matter is there are no guarantees."
Langley is likely to face St. Marys' Michael Brennen (14-13) in the semifinals before taking on Lamberson, who must first defeat DuBois' Mike Kennelly (5-5). Langley also has a pin in 3:09 over Brennen this season.
"It's a matter of Carl having an opportunity of becoming the district champion, and he's going to take full advantage of that and wrestle as well as he has all year," Eddy said. "It's just going to depend on whether he's going to show up and wrestle."
Woodson (13-17) is a No. 2 seed at 189 pounds thanks to DuBois' Landon Hanna dropping out of the tournament. Hanna would have been the top seed, but instead, St. Marys' Joe McLaughlin (19-9) will take the top spot.
The other three grapplers at 189 pounds — No. 3 Jacob Verchick (2-15), No. 4 Francis Durnein (2-9) and Brady Haines (1-3) — have a combined five victories.
Woodson will have to get past Verchick before having an opportunity at making up for a 6-2 loss to McLaughlin Feb. 9.
"Tige has been given a perfect situation to get a victory in the first round and wrestle in the final," Eddy said. "Tige gave him (McLaughlin) four points by taking shots and staying underneath. If he doesn't take those shots, who knows what happens."
Neal (10-15) and Titus (6-21) are three seeds. Neal may have difficulty in his first bout — he faces DuBois' Joel Morrison (16-2), whose only losses were to top-seeded Clearfield's Derek Danver (28-6) — but has a good chance at advancing to regionals.
Neal pinned both the No. 4 (Bradford's Rob Hilfirty) and No. 5 (St. Marys' Alex Geitner) seeds earlier in the season. If he loses to Morrison in his first bout, Neal will have a leg up on both Hilfirty and Geitner in the consolation rounds.
"Josh Neal should beat Hilfirty, and he should beat Geitner," Eddy said. "When you get a situation like that, it's on your shoulders. You have to come through and do what's expected of you."
Titus is entering districts in a similar situation to Neal. As a No. 3 seed, he lost to the No. 2 seed (St. Marys' Jimmy Antonelli), but beat both the No. 4 (DuBois' Austin Barr) and No. 5 (Bradford's Dan Kline) seeds.
Titus, however, is in a precarious situation against Barr and Kline. He defeated Kline by a 2-1 score, and he trailed Barr, 3-2, before putting Barr on his back and earning a pin.
"To say we're going into the 215-pound weight class with a huge amount of confidence ... we can't. If Titus gets Kline or Barr on their back, they're going to be pinned. But the fact of the matter is that he has to get them there," Eddy said. "Dan Kline scares me, because we beat him 2-1. That's not a match that you hang your hat on."
This report was the final part of a three-part series that previews the PAHS wrestling team, which will compete in the District IX Class AAA Individual Championships at 10 a.m. today at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.