Before the Christmas break, Bedford hammered Chestnut Ridge, 59-16, and there were a couple of things that really stood out.
The big one was Bedford, of course, and how much the young Bisons have improved and already making the team a force to reckon with this season. With Ridge coming off of a 46-19 win over Claysburg-Kimmel, the match figured to be a close one. It wasn't.
The Bisons' toughness in all positions, especially the top position, turned the match into a rout. It was interesting to hear from coach Brian Creps of his team's relative calm before such a big match. It was as if they were just hanging out before a class and talking about what teenagers talk about.
It's that been-there, done-that mentality that will serve the Bisons well down the road, most likely at the PIAA Dual Meet Championships, if they stay healthy.
The other thing that stood out was the crowd. The match is always a big draw, but you add an expected close match to the equation, and you get a line of people waiting to enter a full gymnasium and hoping somebody leaves so they can take their spot. The unlucky ones watched the match from a closed-circuit TV in the auditorium.
That kind of a buildup and full gymnasium is refreshing because it's so rare these days in high school wrestling in the area.
Hopefully it happens more often this season.
Fye is the guy
A special shoutout goes to Moshannon Valley's rookie coach, Justin Fye, who has been a real trooper so far in calling in three dual meet tournaments - 13 matches in all.
Some other pleasant surprises:
n Philipsburg-Osceola sophomore 106-pounder Chris Thompson is 14-0 and is tied with Mo Valley's James Stodart for second in pins with nine. Thompson did have a lot of success before he got to the high school level, but he's at least 5 pounds under his weight. It will likely get a little harder for Thompson when the 113-pounders start dropping after the Jan. 15 weight allowance kicks in.
n Chestnut Ridge's Austin Buttry is shorter than every 285-pounder he wrestles, but his wrestling skills have pushed him to a 13-2 record.
n I haven't seen him yet, but Tyrone sophomore Jason Schopp, brother of A.J. Schopp, a state champ two years ago, seems to have improved a lot over one year. He's 4-1 at 120 pounds.
Schopp, Link excelling
Speaking of A.J. Schopp, it's very interesting to see the success he, as well as Penn Cambria standout Ryan Link, are having at the college level.
Schopp, a redshirt freshman 133-pounder at Division I Edinboro, went 4-2 to finish fifth at the Midlands Tournament, reaching the semifinals before losing to Virginia's fourth-ranked Devin Carter, 17-7. Schopp, now 23-3, beat Stanford's 10th-ranked Ryan Mango, 7-6, for fifth place.
Link is a redshirt junior at UPJ who took fourth in the Division II NCAA Championships last season, and is ranked third nationally at 133. His brother, Nathan, a fifth-year senior, is ranked sixth at 149.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.