Eric Gibbons was a two-time state placewinner for Bedford in the early period of the last decade, finishing second in 2001 and seventh in 2002. But Gibbons never won the Thomas Tournament.
Up until Saturday night, his brother, Brian, hadn't either. Brian had two shots at it as a freshman and as a sophomore, but he finally pulled it off when he beat Fort Cherry's Sam Guidi, 2-0, in the 160-pound finals. It was a relief to say the least for the younger brother.
"I did something my brother never did," he said. "We kind of had a curse on the family name, and hopefully I broke that tonight. This is big, and this gives you a stepping stone to know where you're at, but this isn't everything. This is just another step going to the state title."
That Gibbons and many others put a lot of weight on winning a title at the tournament shows how much the tourney is respected. Many of the wrestlers who took part in the Thomas Subaru Tournament are going to be seen again at the Southwest Regional Tournament.
Finals matchups like Penn Cambria's Pat Myers and North Star's Joe Lascari, Tyrone's Ronnie Garbinsky against Claysburg-Kimmel's Cole Claar, Chestnut Ridge's Josh Shane and Somerset's Luke Lohr, Bedford's Tanner Ripple and C-K's Corey Aungst and Gibbons and Guidi could be regional final matchups, or at least medal bouts.
By the way, are organizers and Thomas Automotive going to change the name of the tournament every year? It's gone from Thomas Chevrolet two years ago to Thomas Automotive Family last year to Thomas Subaru this year. Just wondering.
Anyway, no matter the name, it's a big tournament that the participants point to early on, especially the host team, which has won the team title now four straight years.
"It's such a big tournament," Bedford coach Brian Creps said, "and it's such an important part of the community of wrestling around here, that if you win the Thomas Tournament you're known. There's a lot of great programs here, and to be able to [win four straight titles] is a great thing. The seniors have always won this."
First round begins
The first round of the District 6 Class AA Duals are slated for tonight, while the Class AAA matches are set for Wednesday.
The most intriguing of the first-round matchups is fifth-seeded Claysburg-Kimmel heading to fourth-seeded Mount Union. The Trojans beat the Bulldogs, 42-28, on Dec. 29, but C-K has improved since then, so expect the score to be closer. Expect both teams to be shifting their lineups.
Top-seeded Huntingdon hosts eighth-seeded Southern Huntingdon, while seventh-seeded Tyrone visits second-seeded Westmont Hilltop. Sixth-seeded Penns Valley visits third-seeded Forest Hills. In Class AAA, fourth-seeded Altoona hosts Johnstown at the junior high tonight. on Wednesday, third-seeded Philipsburg-Osceola hosts State College. Top-seeded Central Mountain and second-seeded Bellefonte have byes.
It's a shame that Penn Cambria isn't in the field, but the Panthers' schedule was built more toward tournaments. And the Class AA Duals, hurt by Bald Eagle Area and Indian Valley not entering, will be dominated by Central Mountain.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at email@example.com.