BEDFORD - It seemed only fitting that the District 5 Team Duals came down to two wrestlers who had won Thomas Subaru Tournament titles the week before in the same gym.
Bedford, which had survived a scare in the quarterfinals against Berlin Brothersvalley, led rival Chestnut Ridge by two points going into the 195-pound bout.
The Lions, a six-point semifinal winner over Somerset in the third match between the teams, were hammered by the Bisons in December but have been surging late in the season.
Photo for the Mirror by Tami Ogline Knopsnyder
Bedford’s Garrett Thomas upends Chestnut Ridge’s Colby Hillegass at 120 pounds.
And so the District 5 championship was decided in a grueling 195-pound bout between Bedford's Michael Brett, the 182-pound Thomas champ, and Ridge's Dan Albright, the 195-pound champ.
Amid the deafening roars of the crowd, Brett slipped through two Albright cradle attempts to win, 8-6, and lift the Bisons over the Lions in a classic, 29-24, Saturday afternoon.
"I felt lots of pressure. This was all for the team," Brett said as he tried to catch his breath. "I had to push myself until I couldn't go anymore. It's an honor to take my team to Hershey, and it's an honor for me to win it for him."
"You like it coming down to one of your better kids," Bedford coach Brian Creps said. "You had two Thomas champions, and you knew it was going to be a tight match. Michael has been wrestling well all year."
The title was the fifth in a row and seventh overall for the Bisons (15-0), who will start their quest for a state medal Thursday at the PIAA Duals in Hershey.
The match was far different from the first time the teams wrestled - a 59-16 Bedford win on Dec. 22.
"They had a lot of kids down two weights from the first time we wrestled them, so it's not a surprise," Creps said. "They've got a really good team over there. There's a reason by they're 26-6, so to beat a real good team like that in the district duals is a real great win for our program."
"We're better," Lazor said. "The first time we wrestled them, we had a couple guys not wrestle. We had some that were hurt and sick. No excuses. It wasn't 50 points hurt and sick. We got some guys in better weight classes, and that means a lot."
Also key in the win for the Bisons, who beat Meyersdale, 49-16, in the semis, were the three bout wins decided by one point. Jacob Krupa edge Luke Fochtman, 2-1 at 285. Tanner Williams got by Kyle Winegardner, 2-1, at 145.
"Tanner has been battling all year," Creps said. "He's been through the grinder, and he's been able to wrestle the good kids and beat them."
Dylan Evans got by Matt Dull, 7-6, at 170 and gave Bedford a 26-19 lead going into the last two weights.
Evans and Dull were tied, 4-4, when Evans tilted Dull to his back for two points with about 40 seconds left. Dull reversed to tie the score, but Evans escaped with 16 seconds remaining and avoided danger at the end.
"I just had to keep working my butt off," Evans said. "He was a good opponent. Whenever I had him in the tilt, I thought I had the match. Once he got out, I knew I was pretty tired. I didn't want to go into overtime."
The Lions drew to within two when Tyler Dibert rang up a 19-2 technical fall over Cody Yingling in 4:57, with 15 of those points being nearfall points.
Brett took a 4-2 lead into the third period, slipping through a cradle attempt in the second period, but Albright tied it with a takedown. Albright hooked up a cradle, but Brett slipped his head out and reversed with 51 seconds left for a reversal. Brett scored two nearfall points and gave up a late reversal.
"His cross-face cradle was really not tight at all," Brett said. "He thought he had a good cross-face, but it wasn't tight enough."
"Michael has a real good sense of balance, and he has good strength," Creps said. "He tends to feel things that other kids don't necessarily feel. He doesn't always turn the right way, but he seems to be successful."
"I can't say enough about what Albright did," Lazor said. "That's a tough situation for a young wrestler, and he went out there and wrestled an extremely quality kid."
When the final seconds ticked off the clock, Brett pointed toward the Bedford crowd and then toward his applauding teammates and coaches.
The Lions, who split with Somerset before beating the Eagles, 33-27, in the semifinals, won three of the first four bouts for a 13-3 lead. They opened with Austin Buttry, down to 220 for the first time, pinning Robert Minnich in 1:01.
"We were trying to throw that in there as a little surprise," Lazor said. "We thought he matched up a little bit better with Krupa than Fochtman did."
That run also included Trent Crouse's 1-0 win over Ryan Easter in a rematch of the Thomas 113-pound finals.
"Unbelievable job on his part," Lazor said.
Garrett Thomas (120) and Toby Brett (126) stopped the run got the Bisons to within a point with a decision and pin, respectively. Ridge's Shane Pfaunmiller followed with a 2-0 win over Caleb Grimes, but Bedford's Zach Dudek tied the score, 16-16, with a major decision.
After Williams' win, Ridge's Bradie Bollman beat Jesse Martin, 6-2, at 152 to make the score 19-19. Josiah Koontz's major decision gave the Bisons a 23-19 lead going down the stretch.
"Our goal all year has been to get to states and win some matches at states," Creps said. "The boys were real excited about getting down there and getting after it."
BEDFORD 49, MEYERSDALE 16
195-M. Brett, B, pinned Lenhart, 1:27; 220-Krupa, B, won by forfeit; 285-Smith, M, pinned J. Easter, 1:14; 106-Warren, B, dec. B. McKenzie, 6-1; 113-B. Martin, B, won by forfeit; 120-R. Easter, B, maj. dec. Charlton, 9-1; 126-Thomas, B, dec. Day, 6-5.
132-T. Brett, B, dec. Hetrick, 6-2; 138-S. McKenzie, M, maj. dec. Grimes, 9-0; 145-Dudek, B, dec. Deist, 10-5; 152-Williams, B, pinned Yoder, :55; 160-Koontz, B, dec. Dunbar, 4-1; 170-Berkley, M, pinned Evans, 2:43; 182-Yingling, B, pinned Mayhugh, 1:27.
Records: Meyersdale (13-5); Bedford (14-0).
CHESTNUT RIDGE 33, SOMERSET 27
195-D. Albright, CR, pinned Baer, 2:58; 220-Blough, S, dec. Fochtman, 7-5; 285-Hayman, S, dec. Buttry, 7-2; 106-Claar, CR, won by forfeit; 113-Crouse, CR, pinned Jano, 2:31; 120-Wagner, S, dec. Hillegass, 13-8; 126-Etterman, CR, dec. Walker, 11-4.
132-Pfaunmiller, CR, dec. Fabian, 1-0; 138-Laue, S, pinned Bence, :38; 145-Winegardner, CR, dec. Lohr, 7-3; 152-Darr, S, dec. Bollman, 4-2; 160-Sutton, S, dec. Holderbaum, 9-4; 170-Dibert, CR, pinned Eller, 1:02; 182-Nickelson, S, pinned College, 2:48.
Records: Somerset (17-4); Chestnut Ridge (26-5).
BEDFORD 29, CHESTNUT RIDGE 24
220-Buttry, CR, pinned Minnich, 1:01; 285-Krupa, B, dec. Fochtman, 2-1; 106-Claar, CR, maj. dec. Warren, 9-0; 113-Crouse, CR, dec. R. Easter, 1-0; 120-Thomas, B, dec. Hillegass, 9-4; 126-T. Brett, B, pinned Etterman, 1:50; 132-Pfaunmiller, CR, dec. Grimes, 2-0.
138-Dudek, B, maj. dec. Bence, 10-1; 145-Williams, B, dec. Winegardner, 2-1; 152-Bollman, CR, dec. J. Martin, 6-2; 160-Koontz, B, maj. dec. Holderbaum, 12-3; 170-Evans, B, dec. Dull, 7-6; 182-Dibert, CR, tech. fall Yingling, 19-2, 4:57; 195-M. Brett, B, dec. D. Albright, 8-6.
Records: Chesnut Ridge (26-6); Bedford (15-0).