Penn Cambria's Evan Link was supposed to dominate, was supposed to be better than he was the year before, was supposed to pile up wins and pins like a bull dozer at a rock quarry. He certainly did all of those things.
The 112-pounder went 42-2 with 27 pins, and he had bonus-pointed everybody he beat until the Southwest Regional Tournament. He won his third District 6 Class AA Tournament title, was voted the tourney's outstanding wrestler and beat old foe Nick Roberts of North Star in the regional finals.
Link, whose 138 career wins tied him for second in program history with his brother, Nathan, beat Line Mountain's returning state champion Zain Retherford, 4-3, in the state semifinals and Bermudian Springs' state runner-up Brad Farley, 6-0, in the quarterfinals. Roberts then pulled off a shocking pin of Link in the finals, and the PC senior had to settle for second for the second time.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Members of the 28th annual Mirror wrestling all-star team include (from left): Standing—Bedford’s Brian Creps (coach of the year), Claysburg-Kimmel’s Corey Aungst (145), Northern Bedford’s Quinton Hixson (285), Portage’s David Kephart (189), Bedford’s Brian Gibbons (171), Northern Bedford’s Joel Suter (215), Central Cambria’s Tony Risaliti (152), Bedford’s Ryan Easter (103). Sitting—Claysburg-Kimmel’s James Dodson (119) and Cole Claar (130), Penn Cambria’s Evan Link (112, wrestler of the year), Tyrone’s Ronnie Garbinsky (135), Penn Cambria’s Justin Miller (140), Central Cambria’s Ben Rager (125). Hollidaysburg’s Damian Lascoli (160) was absent for the photo.
Less was expected of Brian Creps' Bedford team. Stars like Cory Thomas, Trey Easter, Tanner Ripple and Zach Maust had graduated, and Creps had to depend on freshmen and less experienced wrestlers to continue the program's winning ways.
The Bisons started out No. 1 in the Mirror rankings, despite watching their 48-match regular season winning streak end against Westmont Hilltop, 39-23, but they were bounced from the top spot by Claysburg-Kimmel, 36-33. Under Creps' leadership, though, the third-ranked Bisons gained experience, improved and they got healthier.
They won the District 5 Duals and went 3-2 at the PIAA Duals, including wins over second-ranked C-K, 36-30, and top-ranked Huntingdon, 28-27. They did it really with only two stars, 103-pound freshman Ryan Easter and 171-pound senior Brian Gibbons, who would be their only state qualifiers.
Mirror wrestling all-stars
103 Ryan EasterBedfordFr36-5
112 $Evan LinkPenn CambriaSr42-2
119 James DodsonClaysburg-KimmelJr41-5
125 Ben RagerCentral CambriaJr37-3
130 Cole ClaarClaysburg-KimmelSr43-4
135 $Ronnie GarbinskyTyroneSr38-3
140 Justin MillerPenn CambriaSr38-9
145 Corey AungstClaysburg-KimmelSr42-7
152 Tony RisalitiCentral CambriaJr35-3
160 *Damian LascoliHollidaysburgSr29-11
171 *Brian GibbonsBedfordSr38-6
189 $David KephartPortageSr35-4
215 *Joel SuterNorthern BedfordSr26-4
285 Quinton HixsonNorthern BedfordJr33-8
Wrestler of the Year: Evan Link, Penn Cambria
Coach of the Year: +Brian Creps, Bedford
+-Indicates fifth coach of the year selection; *-Indicates second first team selection; $-Indicates third first team selection.
103 Josh BrownClaysburg-KimmelSo35-12
112 T.J. BrandtAltoonaSo32-6
119 Kie BrownHuntingdonSr41-5
125 Ty DivelyClaysburg-KimmelJr44-5
130 Nick SzalaPenn CambriaJr39-8
135 Wendell MyersAltoonaSr31-6
140 Jake HinesAltoonaSr35-8
145 Logan WalstromPhilipsburg-OsceolaJr31-14
152 Willie SollenbergerNorthern BedfordSr27-4
152 Tommy HanlonPenn CambriaSr26-16
160 Tyler DibertChestnut RidgeSo31-8
171 Alex MillerHuntingdonSr34-12
189 Dan SollenbergerNorthern BedfordSr28-8
215 Jacob KrupaBedfordJr28-9
285 Shane MorrisCentral CambriaSr34-8
103 Mason ReplogleNorthern BedfordSo26-7
112 Garret ThomasBedfordFr27-10
119 Brad ThomasCambria HeightsSo25-8
119 Jared WoomerBellwood-AntisJr33-9
125 Mark McMonagleTyroneSr28-10
130 Drew GartlandNorthern BedfordSo24-8
130 Dylan WestonTyroneJr33-7
135 Kenny MyersPhilipsburg-OsceolaJr36-10
135 Chris ShopeHuntingdonSr23-12
140 Dylan WeyantClaysburg-KimmelJr23-13
145 Ryan SlovikoskyPenn CambriaSr29-10
152 Luke GreenawaltPhilipsburg-OsceolaSr23-13
152 Nick MarterHuntingdonSr38-8
160 Ross InzanaCambria HeightsJr24-13
171 Dylan LudwigMoshannon ValleyJr22-9
189 James StodartMoshannon ValleySo24-7
189 Michael BrettBedfordSo25-12
215 Dustin EverhartHuntingdonSr29-13
285 Dave BrownGlendaleSr24-7
285 Braeden LucianoAltoonaSr30-10
For their performances, Link and Creps have earned top honors on 28th annual Mirror All-Star Team. Link has been named the wrestler of the year, and Creps has been named coach of the year for the fifth straight season.
The Bisons have two on the first team in Easter and Gibbons. Claysburg-Kimmel has three on the team, while Penn Cambria, Central Cambria and Northern Bedford also have two each.
The first, second and honorable mention teams follow the order of the Mirror rankings, with some exceptions at deep weights. Here's the rest of the first team and its accomplishments:
103 pounds: Ryan Easter, Bedford: A lot was expected of Easter in his freshman season, and he delivered, going 36-5 with 11 pins and four technical falls. He won a District 5 title, and he lost to Kittanning's eventual state champion Jason Nolf, 5-1, in the regional finals. Easter, battling a hamstring injury that bugged him most of the season, lost his first bout at states, but he went 4-1 in the consolations to take fifth place.
119 pounds: James Dodson, Claysburg-Kimmel: An honorable mention pick last year, Dodson went 41-5 with 23 pins wrestling between 119 and 130 as a junior. Dodson won a District 6 title at 119, beating Huntingdon's Kie Brown, and reached the regional finals, where he ran into Derry Area machine Jimmy Gulibon, who went on to win his third state title.
Dodson, who has a career record of 104-27, went 1-2 in his second state tournament, coming up a win short of placing.
125 pounds: Ben Rager, Central Cambria: Out for most of last season with a knee injury, Rager came on strong as a junior, going 37-3 with 15 pins, rallying to beat C-K's Ty Dively, 9-8, for the District 6 title, dropping a 5-0 decision to Shady Side Academy's four-time regional champ Geoff Alexander in the regional finals and placing fifth at the PIAA Championships.
130 pounds: Cole Claar, Claysburg-Kimmel: A second-teamer as a junior and sophomore, Claar makes the first team after finishing 43-4 with six major decisions and four technical falls, winning a District 6 title, taking third at the Southwest Regional and going 1-2 in his second state tournament. Claar finished his career with a 132-31 record.
135 pounds: Ronnie Garbinsky, Tyrone: A three-time Mirror First Team All-Star, Garbinsky became only the second area wrestler to win four District 6 titles, lost in the tiebreaker to Burrell's Jeremy Landowski in the regional finals and took seventh at states - his fourth medal, making him the fifth Class AA wrestler from the district to do that.
Garbinsky, who will continue wrestling at Pitt, finished his senior season with a 38-3 record and 23 pins and his career with a 157-12 mark and 79 pins.
140 pounds: Justin Miller, Penn Cambria: Miller, a three-year starter, was an honorable mention selection as a junior with a 26-15 record, but he had a career year as a senior, going 38-9 with 16 pins, taking second at the District 6 Tournament and placing fourth at regionals to qualify for states, where he went 1-2.
145 pounds: Corey Aungst, Claysburg-Kimmel: It was a trying year for Aungst, whose sister, Kristen, died in an automobile accident in May, but he excelled, taking second at the District 6 Tournament, placing fourth at regionals and finishing eighth at states.
An honorable mention pick who went 38-5 last season, he was 42-7 with 27 pins as a senior wrestling as high as 171 pounds. Aungst became the program's career pin leader with 75, breaking Ryan McIntyre's record of 72, and he went 135-28 in four years.
152 pounds: Tony Risaliti, Central Cambria: The Red Devil junior was a second-teamer last season, but Risaliti makes the first team after going unbeaten during the regular season, breezing to a District 6 title, taking third at regionals and placing seventh in his second trip to Hershey. He went 35-3 with 25 pins, and he'll enter his senior season with an 89-25 record and 56 pins.
160 pounds: Damian Lascoli, Hollidaysburg: Lascoli, on the first team for the second year in a row, went 29-11 with seven major decisions. He was second at the District 6 Class AAA Tournament, knocking off BEA's top-seeded Coleman Hoffman, and Northwest Regional runner-up, and he qualified for states for the second time.
His district and regional losses were to Bellefonte's Brad Grieb, who was fourth in Hershey. Lascoli, who had three wins as a freshman, finished his career with an 86-43 record.
171 pounds: Brian Gibbons, Bedford: A second-teamer behind Lascoli last season, Gibbons was also a first-teamer as a sophomore. He was 38-6 with 24 pins as a senior, won his third District 5 title, placed third at regionals and went 1-2 at his third state tournament, where he was hampered by a back injury. With a 129-37 career mark, he broke Cory Thomas' school record of 128. He finished with 57 pins.
189 pounds: David Kephart, Portage: Kephart followed up his sterling football season by making the first team in wrestling for a third time, with his first two coming at 171.
He was 35-4 with 20 pins, won his first District 6 title and suffered a controversial loss to Southmoreland's Jordan Kitta in the regional finals, but he avenged that loss with a 3-1 win in the seventh-place finals in his third trip to states. Kephart, who will possibly wrestle at UPJ, wound up with a 118-30 career record and 69 pins.
215 pounds: Joel Suter, Northern Bedford: What an eventful senior season for Suter, who makes the first team for the second time. First, he rolled to a 19-0 record with 16 first-period pins. Then he came down with mononucleosis, and he missed most of February.
Cleared to wrestle the day before the District 5 Tournament started, Suter won districts, took second at regionals and shocked those in the Giant Center in his second state tournament by pinning Lackawanna Trail's returning state champion Eric Laytos in a mere 1:06 in the quarterfinals. Suter placed sixth and finished 26-4 with 21 pins, and he was 83-17 in his career.
285 pounds: Quinton Hixson, Northern Bedford: Helped by 2005 Tyrone state champion Terry Tate in the wrestling room, Hixson went 33-8 with 25 pins in his junior season, won his second District 5 title, placed fifth at regionals and pinned Central Cambria's Shane Morris in the seventh-place bout to make the first team. A second-team pick last season, he's 69-28 in his career.