Penn State-bound twins cap junior careers with freestyle titles
by Guy Cipriano
Future Penn State wrestlers Andrew and Dylan Alton handled their last appearances in the Junior National Championships with the same demeanor they display everywhere else they compete.
They left the boasting to others. They didn't drop any tears as they left the FargoDome for the final time as competitors.
"I'm sort of glad it's the last time," Dylan said Sunday afternoon. "I'm ready to move onto the next level."
The Central Mountain duo will bring incredible resumes to Penn State in 2010.
Andrew and Dylan captured the 140 and 145 titles, respectively, during Saturday night's freestyle finals in Fargo, N.D. The twins shared Outstanding Wrestler honors.
The Altons spent plenty of time atop the Fargo podium. They combined to win nine cadet and junior freestyle and Greco-Roman titles. The twins captured junior freestyle titles the past two years.
Most wrestling experts consider the tournament the nation's premiere scholastic event. Dozens of college coaches, including Penn State's Cael Sanderson, attended this year's tournament, which started July 18.
Pennsylvania's presence in the event fluctuates, with some of the state's best wrestlers choosing to stay home and heal between grueling seasons. The Altons have never missed the tournament, although they didn't enter the Greco-Roman portion of this year's event.
"We never really practice Greco," Andrew said. "We just go out there and wrestle it. We wanted to focus on one style."
Andrew, coincidentally, met another 2009 PIAA champ in the finals, ending his tournament with a 3-0, 3-4, 1-0 victory over Blue Mountain's Josh Kindig. Andrew also defeated Kindig twice during this past spring's FILA Junior National Championships.
"He gets tougher and tougher," Andrew said. "This was the third time I faced him this year. He was a lot tougher for some reason. I knew I had to get my offense going."
Andrew and Kindig are friends, but awkward situations develop when they enter the same weight class.
"We usually don't speak with each other," Andrew said. "We don't know what to say."
Andrew went 12-0 on his way to the title. He also received challenges from Minnesota's Dylan Ness, New Jersey's Chris Villalonga and Wisconsin's Nazar Kulchytsky.
Dylan went 10-0, handling California's Vlad Dombrowskiy 6-0, 2-3, 3-1 in the finals. He defeated his first six opponents by either fall or technical fall.
"The title meant a lot to me," Dylan said. "I wanted to go out a champ."
The Altons were two of three Pennsylvania wrestlers to earn junior freestyle titles. Council Rock South's Josh Dziewa started a streak of three straight Pennsylvania victories by winning at 135.
Andrew and Dylan were centerpieces of a tight-knit Pennsylvania team. The group traveled to Fargo by bus, a trip that took 22 hours and Penn State assistant Troy Letters served as one of its coaches.
The team also included West Mifflin's Sam Sherlock, who orally committed to Penn State earlier this month. Sherlock dropped his opening bout, but recovered to take third at 130.
Once the tournament ended and the socializing increased, Andrew said the twins received multiple questions about Penn State's future. The Altons committed to the program in April, one week after Sanderson's hiring.
"We're both looking forward to it," Dylan said. "We can't wait for it to start and to get rolling through."
The junior national championships marked the duo's final tournament this summer. They are using the next month to relax and prepare for 2009- 10. Dylan is attempting to become a three-time PIAA champion. Andrew captured his first state title this past spring.