BEDFORD - Chestnut Ridge held a 32.5-point lead over Bedford heading into the Saturday evening session of the rugged Thomas Subaru Tournament and had the team title locked up.
That's the good news for the Lions, whose overall depth was on display in the two-day tournament. Ten of its 14 wrestlers placed in the top seven at their respective weight classes for Ridge's first Thomas title since 2005.
The bad news for Ridge is it went 0-for-4 in the finals. Ridge's Trent Crouse (126 pounds), Tyler Dibert (170), Dan Albright (195) and Austin Buttry all had to settle for second place. The Lions were still able to claim the team trophy by 21.5 points, 213-191.5, over Bedford. South Fayette (180.5) finished third.
Mirror photos by Gary M. Baranec
Bedford’s Garrett Thomas snatches the leg of Chestnut Ridge’s Trent Crouse in the 126-pound finals.
Bedford’s Jonathan Gabriel wrestles Jefferson Morgan’s Brendan Howard.
"Overall, over the weekend, I'd say we wrestled really well," Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. "Up until the final round, I'd say we did about as good as we could do. We had a lot of close matches in the final round that didn't go our way. We found some things we need to work on, and we'll get to that Monday."
While its rival was going winless in the finals, Bedford was going 3-for-5. The Bisons had champs in freshman Jonathan Gabriel (106), Ryan Easter (120) and Garrett Thomas (126). Teammates Toby Brett (138) and Tanner Williams (152) finished second. Nine of the Bisons placed in the top eight.
"Coming in, we wanted to be competitive," Bedford coach Brian Creps said. "Our top six, seven or eight kids wrestled really well, and our inexperienced guys got some experience. Second place in a tournament like this, we're pretty happy with the kids."
The area had six champions in all. Northern Bedford went 2-for-2 in the finals with Drew Gartland (152) and Eric Grace (220) capturing titles. Tussey Mountain's Mitchell Hall (285) also won gold, beating Buttry, 8-4.
Claysburg-Kimmel's Josh Brown (113) reached the finals with a gutsy ultimate tiebreaker win over Beth-Center's top-seeded Zach Swarrow, but he dropped a 6-1 decision to South Fayette's Seth Carr in the finals.
It didn't look good for Gabriel (24-1), who reached the finals with a 2-1 win over Huntingdon's Collin Glorioso, as he trailed Jefferson-Morgan's Brendan Howard, 6-3, entering the third period. But, Gabriel turned Howard for two points, put him on his back again, switched to a half nelson and pinned Howard in 5:39.
"Top is really not my strong suit," Gabriel said, "and it kind of made me a little bit nervous knowing that I was going on top."
"He just keeps his composure so well in the match," Creps said. "No matter what the situation is, he just keeps wrestling the same. He wrestles with a level of maturity most freshmen don't wrestle with."
Even though he's placed twice at the PIAA Championships, Easter (24-1) had never won a Thomas title. The Bison junior, however, made sure this was his year against South Fayette's Mike Carr, getting a takedown in the first period, getting ridden but avoiding back points in the second and cradling Carr for the fall in 5:09.
Afterward, Easter, feeling a combination of joy and relief, wore a broad smile.
"It feels pretty awesome right now," Easter said. "I've wanted this since my first freshman loss. I went out there and finally wrestled relaxed. I was actually having fun out there instead of wrestling really conservative. I know I was winning last year, but I wasn't having fun. It's a lot more enjoyable this year."
The first time Thomas and Crouse wrestled in the dual meet - a 5-3 overtime win over Thomas - the two hooked up in an action-packed white-knuckler, and it was no different this time. Thomas took a 4-2 lead into the second period, but Crouse escaped and scored a takedown to take a 5-4 lead. Thomas escaped and took Crouse down for a 7-5 lead.
Thomas (23-2) broke it open in the second when he caught Crouse turning in from the bottom, put him on his back for three points and took a 10-5 lead. Thomas reversed in the third, but the hard-charging Crouse (22-4), who beat Easter last season for a title, escaped and got a takedown at the buzzer, but Thomas won, 12-8.
"We just had to continue to be aggressive and continue to score points," Creps said. "When you do that, sometimes they score points on you, but Garrett is really wrestling well right now. He's doing all the things that good wrestlers need to do."
"What an exciting match," Lazor said. "I tell you what, I could watch him and Thomas wrestle every day. I've never seen people do so many things in six minutes. All the credit in the world to Thomas. He's getting better every time I watch him."
Gartland pinned his way to the finals, including a fall in 3:06 of Conemaugh Township's second-seeded and returning champion Tanner Cahill in the semis.
In the finals against Tri-Valley's top-seeded Blake Bowman, a returning runner-up, the lead changed hands four times before, with the score tied, 7-7, Gartland nailed a takedown off of a low single, caught Bowman on his back for two and won, 11-7. Gartland (21-0) pumped his fist in celebration.
"It's a great feeling," Gartland said. "I've always wanted to be a winner here. I just kept pushing myself through every year."
"Gartland wrestled outstanding," NBC coach Brian Dutchcot said. "He beat quality kids, and he didn't back down. He went right after them. At the end, he's still taking shots and not stalling the match out."
Gartland, along with Jefferson-Morgan's Dustin Conti, who beat Dibert, 8-5, in the finals, were the only wrestlers to keep their undefeated records intact. The final two, West Branch's Buzzy Maines at 220 and Ridge's Buttry, saw their unbeaten records blemished.
The third-seeded Grace, like Gartland, played giant killer, pinning Blairsville's second-seeded Luke White in 1:12 in the semis beating the top-seeded Maines, 3-2, in the finals. Grace took Maines down in the first, escaped in the third and held off the hard-charging Warrior in the final 30 seconds to claim a title.
"It wasn't a great morning. As soon as we got here we went 0-for-4, and we now we have two champs," Dutchcot said. "Grace wrestled a real smart match. We lost two him earlier in the season as the North-South Duals. He got that opening takedown, and that was the confidence that he needed."
Hall (23-2) also knocked off the second seed, West Branch's Morgan Selepack by fall in 1:45 in the semis, and the top seed, Buttry. The finals bout was tied, 3-3, in the third when Hall escaped and countered a Buttry (23-1) shot 14 seconds later for a takedown and a 6-3 lead. Hall added another takedown to win, 8-4.
"I think we have a little advantage with our technique," Lazor said, "but [Hall] has an advantage with his strength, and strength one. Hall is getting better and better. We've got to find a way to get to the side of him because we're not going to stand toe-to-toe that guy too well."
THOMAS SUBARU TOURNAMENT
KEY, TEAM STANDINGS
1. CR--Chestnut Ridge 213; 2. B--Bedford 191.5; 3. SF--South Fayette 180.5; 4. BB--Berlin Brothersvalley 154; 5. TV--Tri-Valley 144.5; 6. WB--West Branch 139; 7. JM--Jefferson-Morgan 133.5; 8. H--Huntingdon 113.5; 9. M--Meyersdale 103; 10. NB--Northern Bedford 101; 11. S--Somerset 99.5; 12. MP--Mount Pleasant 96.5; 13. CH--Cambria Heights 90.5; 14. BL--Blairsville 88.5; 15. NS--North Star 76.5; 16. R--Richland 72.5; 17. CT--Conemaugh Township 66; 18. TM--Tussey Mountain 65; 19. CK--Claysburg-Kimmel 64; 20. C--Central 56; 21. PC--Penn Cambria 52; 22. NG--Northern Garrett 39; 23. T--Tyrone 37; 24. BC--Beth-Center 36.5; 25. N--Newport 25.5; 26. E--Everett 22; 27. SH--Shade 7.
106--Howard, JM, dec. Burkett, CR, 8-1; Gabriel, B, dec. Glorioso, H, 3-1; 113--Brown, CK, dec. Swarrow, BC, 4-3 OT UTB; S. Carr, SF, dec. Bordner, TV, 7-5; 120--Easter, B, dec. Swank, BB, 2-1 OT UTB; M. Carr, SF, tech. fall Schopp, T, 17-2, 4:27; 126--Thomas, B, pinned Demaske, JM, 2:34; Crouse, CR, dec. Day, M, 7-3; 132--Hayles, WB, dec. Hetrick, M, 3-2; Schaeffer, TV, dec. C. Miller, BB, 4-3; 138--Naglic, R, dec. Tarr, BL, 3-1; T. Brett, B, dec. Harner, TV, 2-0; 145--Bowman, TV, dec. Deist, M, 6-5; Gartland, NB, pinned Tan. Cahill, CT, 3:06.
152--Doak, BL, dec. Tay. Cahill, CT, 3-1; Williams, B, dec. G. Fetchet, 3-2; 160--Fochtman, BB, maj. dec. Bowlen, JM, 10-1; Walker, SF, dec. Lohr, 3-1; 170--Conti, JM, maj. dec. Kristofits, 10-0; Dibert, CR, dec. M. Fetchet, SF, 6-4 OT TB; 182--Troutman, TV, pinned M. Brett, B, 5:10; Berkley, M, maj. dec. Bollman, CR, 10-1; 195--Nickelson, S, pinned Walker, SF, 7:24 OT TB; Albright, CR, dec. Wunder, T, 5-1; 220--Maines, WB, maj. dec. Albright, NS, 16-8; Grace, NB, pinned White, BL, 1:12; 285--A. Buttry, CR, dec. Aa. Gill, CH, 2-1; Hall, TM, pinned Selepack, WB, 1:45.
106--Klotz, E, dec. Thomas, M, 4-0; Stephen, TV, tech. fall Rounds, 19-1, 5:00; 113--Burket, C, dec. Shank, CR, 5-1; Warren, B, dec. DeArmitt, BB, 8-3; 120--Novak, MP, pinned Mosteller, NS, 4:09; Claar, CR, maj. dec. Albright, WB, 15-2; 126--Davis, CH, dec. Green, H, 3-2; Opel, NG, pinned Quarello, C, 4:24; 132--Russell, H, dec. Fabian, S, 8-3; Eckenrode, PC, maj. dec. Stroup, N, 11-3; 138--Miller, JM, tech. fall Hoenstine, C, 15-0, 3:45; Welsh, BC, dec. Bumbarger, WB, 3-2; 145--Mears, MP, dec. Laue, S, 2-1; Zalar, JM, maj. dec. Barnett, TM, 11-2.
152--B. Miller, BB, pinned Slippey, WB, :39; Long, MP, dec. Snyder, TV, 9-2; 160--C. Buttry, CR, dec. Charlesworth, MP, 9-2; Grimes, B, dec. Dunbar, M, 3-2; 170--Thompson, BL, maj. dec. B. Burket, C, 10-2; Crawford, CH, pinned Pecora, 1:27; 182--Overly, MP, pinned Connor, NS, :55; Haney, SF, dec. Waksmunski, CH, 3-2; 195--Lauer, H, pinned Holt, MP, 2:35; Tripodis, BL, dec. Trulick, BB, 4-2; 220--Walker, BB, dec. C. Williams, B, 3-0; B. Winegardner, CR, dec. McLendon, PC, 3-2 OT TB; 285--Moose, R, pinned Christoff, SF, 1:31; Wilkinson, PC, dec. Jo. Hammel, CK, 4-1.
106--Glorioso, H, pinned Klotz, E, 1:26; Burkett, CR, dec. Stephen, TV, 7-2; 113--Bordner, TV, dec. K. Burket, C, 4-2 OT; Swarrow, BC, dec. Warren, B, 6-1; 120--Novak, MP, tech. fall Schopp, T, 15-0, 3:00; Claar, CR, dec. Swank, BB, 4-2; 126--Day, M, maj. dec. Davis, CH, 11-3; Demaske, JM, pinned Opel, NG, 2:36; 132--C. Miller, BB, dec. Russell, H, 5-3; Hetrick, M, dec. Eckenrode, PC, 2-1; 138--Harner, TV, pinned Miller, JM, 4:32; Tarr, BL, pinned Welsh, BC, 2:00; 145--Tan. Cahill, CT, pinned Mears, MP, 4:36; Zalar, JM, dec. Deist, M, 3-1.
152--G. Fetchet, SF, maj. dec. B. Miller, BB, 14-4; Tay. Cahill, CT, dec. Long, MP, 4-3; 160--Lohr, S, dec. C. Buttry, CR, 9-2; Bowlen, JM, dec. Grimes, B, 2-1; 170--M. Fetchet, SF, won by injury default over Thompson, BL; Kristofits, WB, dec. Crawford, CH, 6-4; 182--Overly, MP, pinned Bollman, CR, 2:42; M. Brett, B, pinned Haney, SF, 1:15; 195--Wunder, T, dec. Lauer, H, 5-3; Walker, SF, dec. Tripodis, BL, 3-1; 220--Walker, BB, maj. dec. White, BL, 9-0; B. Winegardner, CR, won by injury default over Albright, NS; 285--Selepack, WB, pinned Moose, R, :42; Aa. Gill, CH, pinned Wilkinson, PC, 2:13.
SEVENTH PLACE FINALS
106--Thomas, M, dec. Rounds, NG, 9-7; 113--Shank, CR, tech. fall DeArmitt, BB, 17-2, 4:25; 120--Albright, WB, dec. Mostoller, NS, 5-2; 126--Quarello, C, pinned Green, H, :43; 132--Fabian, S, dec. Stroupe, N, 6-1; 138--Bumbarger, WB, tech. fall Hoenstine, C, 15-0, 3:52; 145--Laue, S, dec. Barnett, TM, 9-5.
152--Slippey, WB, dec. Snyder, TV, 4-3; 160--Dunbar, M, pinned Charlesworth, MP, 1:41; 170--Pecora, R, pinned B. Burket, C, 2:13; 182--Connor, NS, maj. dec. Waksmunski, CH, 8-0; 195--Trulick, BB, pinned Holt, MP, 3:27; 220--McLendon, PC, dec. C. Williams, B, 1-0; 285--Christoff, SF, pinned Jo. Hammel, CK, 1:59.
FIFTH PLACE FINALS
106--Stephen, TV, dec. Klotz, E, 9-8; 113--K. Burket, C, dec. Warren, B, 7-0; 120--Swank, BB, pinned Schopp, T, 2:58; 126--Davis, CH, dec. Opel, NG, 6-4; 132--Russell, H, pinned Eckenrode, PC, 1:56; 138--Welsh, BC, dec. Miller, JM, 6-2; 145--Deist, M, pinned Mears, M, 2:26.
152--Long, MP, dec. B. Miller, BB, 8-1; 160--Grimes, B, dec. C. Buttry, CR, 8-2; 170--Crawford, CH, won by injury default over Thompson, BL; 182--Haney, SF, won by injury default over Bollman, CR; 195--Lauer, H, pinned Tripodis, BL, 4:15; 220--White, BL, won bu injury default over Albright, NS; 285--Moose, R, pinned Wilkinson, PC, 1:56.
THIRD PLACE FINALS
106--Glorioso, H, tech. fall Burkett, CR, 18-2, 4:36; 113--Bordner, TV, pinned Swarrow, BC, 4:04; 120--Claar, CR, pinned Novak, MP, 2:13; 126--Demaske, JM, dec. Day, M, 5-0; 132--C. Miller, BB, dec. Hetrick, M, 9-2; 138--Tarr, BL, dec. Harner, 9-4; 145--Tan. Cahill, CT, dec. Zalar, JM, 7-4.
152--G. Fetchet, SF, dec. Tay. Cahill, CT, 1-0; 160--Lohr, S, dec. Bowlen, JM, 7-1; 170--M. Fetchet, SF, maj. dec. Kristofits, WB, 13-1; 182--Overly, MP, dec. M. Brett, B, 8-2; 195--Walker, SF, dec. Wunder, T, 3-2; 220--B. Winegardner, CR, dec. Walker, BB, 2-1 OT TB; 285--Aa. Gill, CH, dec. Selepack, WB, 1-0.
106--Gabriel, B, pinned Howard, 5:39; 113--S. Carr, SF, dec. Brown, CK, 6-1; 120--Easter, B, pinned M. Carr, SF, 5:09; 126--Thomas, B, dec. Crouse, CR, 12-8; 132--Schaeffer, TV, dec. Hayles, WB, 7-2; 138--Naglic, R, dec. T. Brett, B, 9-3; 145--Gartland, NB, dec. Bowman, TV, 11-7.
152--Doak, BL, dec. T. Williams, B, 3-2; 160--Fochtman, BB, dec. Walker, SF, 3-2; 170--Conti, JM, dec. Dibert, CR, 8-5; 182--Berkley, M, dec. Troutman, TV, 4-1; 195--Nickelson, S, dec. Albright, CR, 7-4; 220--Grace, NB, dec. Maines, WB, 3-2; 285--Hall, TM, dec. A. Buttry, CR, 8-4.