There will be 33 teams competing in the Sheetz Holiday Classic this weekend, but most fans will be looking forward to one potential match between a pair of top-ranked wrestlers.
Central Cambria senior Max Murin will be looking for his fourth Sheetz title, but there is one major obstacle – as well as a few other formidable ones – in his way. Murin, an Iowa recruit who won PIAA gold in 2014 and was a runner-up last season in a bracket for the ages, could end up facing Hazleton Area’s Jimmy Hoffman in the 138-pound final.
Hoffman was the PIAA Class AAA runner-up at 132 a year ago and is currently ranked No. 1 in AAA at 138. Murin is ranked No. 1 in AA at 138.
I spoke with Murin for a preview I did for The Tribune-Democrat.
“I definitely like having the best kids that I can in my schedule to get ready for states,” Murin said. “I hope the best kids in the tournament are at 138. Hopefully I can put up a lot of points against them.”
He certainly shouldn’t have a problem finding competition. The 138-pound and 145-pound brackets are expected to be the deepest at the Sheetz tournament, which is held at Mount Aloysius University in Cresson, Cambria County.
Even without Altoona’s C.J. Manley, who is Murin’s friend and club workout partner, in the weight, 138 still has depth. In addition to Murin and Hoffman, the weight should include Altoona Area’s Jarrell Kephart, who was a 6-AAA champ last season, and Saint Marys Alec Bittler, who went 24-5 as a freshman last season and lost 6-0 to Murin in the Sheetz semifinals.
A Murin-Hoffman finals showdown would certainly be the highlight of an event that might not be quite as deep all around as last season.
Here’s what you need to know: