Philipsburg-Osceola's Chris Thompson was having a pretty good junior season. He was 19-2 with 12 pins after finally growing into the 106-pound weight class, and maybe an even better postseason was coming.
But then on Feb. 5, 31 seconds into the third period of his bout against Clearfield's Logan Gilbert, his knee locked up. He injury-defaulted and hoped for the best.
"I didn't know what was wrong," Thompson said. "The trainer said my muscles were just all tight, and they should relax, but the next day, it was the same thing with excruciating pain."
A visit to the doctor revealed the bad news. He had torn his meniscus. After going over some options, he decided to have surgery about a week after the match. His season was done. Tests and surgery confirmed an old injury that finally caught up to him.
"I must have had a tear in it when I was younger," he said, "about seven years ago, and every year it was doing the same thing - catching and locking up - and I learned to put it back in. But, it just went this time. I'm glad it happened last year and not this year."
While he was on crutches, he watched as his teammates wrestled in the District 6 Class AAA Tournament and the Northwest Regional Tournament. It was a tough for him to watch.
He is 21-5 with nine pins as a senior at 113.
He was 19-2 last season when he suffered an MCL injury.
n He's 74-16 as a three-year starter.
"You're watching all your buddies go out there and wrestle, and you don't get to help them and support them," Thompson said.
The rehabilitation of Thompson's knee lasted until June, and he couldn't wrestle until July. Usually, his offseason is spent going to tournaments, and he had plans on going to the Super 32 in North Carolina in October, but he wasn't ready yet.
No, he decided it was best if he just ran instead of wrestled, although that caused a little bit of a problem.
"I was worried because he was running with the cross country team for awhile, and he had some pretty good swelling in the knee," P-O coach Tim McCamley said. "He was running six or seven miles a day. He had to go back to the doctor and see what that was all about, but they cleared him. He doesn't do as much distance running now. The knee can only take so much pounding, and I think he gave it a little too much pounding at the beginning."
Thompson has rebounded very well, posting a 21-5 record with nine pins and two technical falls after starting the season at 120 and dropping to 113. All of his losses have been by four points or less. More importantly, the knee has held up.
"I haven't seen any signs of the knee [injury]," McCamley said. "He throws a knee pad on every now and then. It clicks on him a lot, but he doesn't hold back when he's wrestling. He lets it fly. The knee might be in the back of his mind, but I don't think it affects his wrestling."
Two of his losses have come to Huntingdon wrestlers, old foe Collin Glorioso, 7-5, at 113 at the Conestoga Valley Tournament and Tyler Scott, 3-2, at 120 in the dual meet at the Juniata Duals.
"That's always a fun match," Thompson said of his battles with Glorioso. "I've always looked forward to it. The past two times I've wrestled him, I've caught him on his back, and he turned me, and it would go back and forth. I like wrestling those tough matches."
Thompson has wrestled in plenty of tough matches since he started wrestling when he was in second grade. He was an instant star, too, finishing fourth at the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Championships his first year.
The problem was, however, he didn't get much bigger as he rolled through elementary into junior high. He wrestled at 75 pounds in seventh grade, and he says he had to eat a lot in order to make the 69-pound minimum weight. There was some talk that he might move up to the high school level as a freshman, and he tried hard to gain the weight, but he didn't get there in time.
"I would have loved to have had him here as a freshman," McCamley said, "but he only weighed in the low 80s. He probably would have won a lot of matches at the high school level, but he needed to stay down and wrestle kids his own size. He got some real good matches in junior high, too."
As a sophomore 106-pounder, he weighed only 100 pounds, but he charged out to a 24-0 record before size started to make a difference as 113-pounders started to drop to 106.
"I knew he was going to be good at 106. I didn't expect him to start off with a 24-0 record," McCamley said. "He was definitely dominant. Then, when the two-pound weight allowance came in, he ran into some tough kids, and he still held his own. The district tournament was really difficult."
Thompson finished fifth at districts at a loaded 106 (six wrestlers with at least 18 wins).
"He's a hard-luck wrestler," McCamley said. "He's probably the best wrestler to never get out of districts that's been around in a long, long time. I just hope he stays healthy and things work out for him because he's a class kid."
Now, Thompson clearly has a bigger goal than to make out of districts. His goal is to make it to the PIAA Championships.
"This is my year to do it," he said, "and I've just got to do it. I've got to work hard and train hard. My good friend Andrew [Greenawalt] ended his season the same way I did last year. That's all he wants me to do is see me wrestling down there."