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Thomas tourney boasts deep weights, great wrestling

January 29, 2008
By Todd Irwin
You know it’s a very good tournament when Tyrone’s returning state runner-up, A.J. Schopp, and his teammate, Ronnie Garbinsky, are finishing third at their respective weight classes.

The Thomas Chevrolet Tournament, or now the Thomas Automotive Family Tournament, is usually filled with talented wrestlers, and it was no different this year at Bedford.

Most of the weight classes were deep, especially at 103 and 112, where the Tyrone wrestlers were finding the path through the tournament was a dangerous one.

Garbinsky lost to Blairsville’s unheralded Adam Weinell, 4-3, Friday night in the quarterfinals. It was his first loss since suffering a 10-4 setback to South Western’s Cameron Throckmorton in the finals of the rugged King of the Mountain Tournament.

Garbinsky responded with three close decisions in the consolations, including a 4-2 win over Bedford’s Trey Easter, just to get a rematch with Weinell in the third-place finals.

This time against Weinell, who was 17-16 as a freshman last season, Garbinsky earned a 4-2 decision.

Jefferson-Morgan’s sixth-seeded Brian Scritchfield and Fort Cherry’s top-seeded Andrew Lucarini, both of whom were Southwest Regional Tournament qualifiers last season, met in the finals. Scritchfield, who beat Weinell, 9-4, in the semis, did most of the wrestling, earning a 17-0 technical fall in 4:35.

It was expected Schopp would get another shot at North Star’s Joe Lascari, who beat him in overtime in last year’s Thomas finals. But Schopp suffered a 2-0 loss to Bedford’s Cory Thomas in the semifinals.

Schopp came back with a 4-1 win over Chestnut Ridge’s Brandon Berkey in the consolation semis and then slapped together a 15-0 technical fall over Tri-Valley’s Brandon Bordner.

When Claysburg-Kimmel’s Cody Feathers opted to drop to 130, that weight class became much deeper. With Cambria Heights’ Glenn Winslow on the other side, it also set the two up for another dramatic rematch.

Two undefeated wrestlers also met at 140 in Ridge’s Gary Pfahler and Tri-Valley’s Dan Koppenhaver. Pfahler, though, left no doubt as to who was better, earning his third major decision of the tournament.

And then we had the finals bout at 189, where Jefferson-Morgan’s 2007 regional runner-up Ethan Virgili turned in a 7-2 decision over Richland’s returning regional third-place Marco Pecora.

And, of course, the gymnasium was packed. Those who couldn’t get into the gym could watch the finals in the auditorium on closed-circuit television. What everybody saw was the end of two days of rugged wrestling.

District duals begin

The team duals for Districts 5 and 6 should both be pretty interesting.

The District 6 quarterfinals begin tonight with eighth-seeded Penn Cambria visiting top-seeded Mount Union, second-seeded Huntingdon hosting seventh-seeded Ligonier Valley, and sixth-seeded Glendale heading to third-seeded Forest Hills.

Wednesday, fourth-seeded Claysburg-Kimmel hosts fifth-seeded Westmont Hilltop. Altoona heads to State College Wednesday for a rematch with the Little Lions, whom the Mountain Lions beat for the first time since 1998 earlier in the season.

All of the winners wrestle on Saturday at Tyrone’s gymnasium. The two top teams in Class AA this year move on to the PIAA Team Duals.

Bedford and Northern Bedford are the top two seeds for the District 5 Duals. The best match could come Saturday morning, when Bedford will likely face rival Chestnut Ridge.

Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at

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