Bigger goals in mind: Ridge’s Dibert aiming for state medal

When he wrestles in the District 5 Tournament in February, Tyler Dibert will be vying for his fourth district title. Only one other Chestnut Ridge wrestler – Lester McLucas from 1958 to 1961 – has done that.

With 116 career wins, Dibert is four wins away from breaking Josh McDannell’s school record of 119, which he’ll likely do this weekend in the Thomas Tournament.

Those are all wrestling resume builders, but there’s still something missing from that resume for him – a state medal – and that has eluded the former Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling state champion in two trips to the PIAA Championships.

“The school record is a big milestone, and that’s always a big accomplishment,” Dibert said. “It’s one more stepping stone. It’s not the only goal I have. It’s not the biggest. My ultimate goal is to win a state medal. That’s been my goal since my freshman year.

“The district titles are really special. Winning a fourth is definitely a goal. I know there was only one other Chestnut Ridge guy to win it. But, that’s not the end goal I’m looking for. I think down the road [possibly winning a fourth title] will be really good to look back on. Not a lot of guys can say they’ve done that.”

Ridge coach Greg Lazor can tell that goal of a state medal is driving Dibert.

“I’m sure it has,” Lazor said. “He wanted to have a state medal by now. He’s had a couple tough draws down there, and he was more than capable of doing it, but when you place fourth or fifth at regionals, you’re setting yourself up for tough draws. Sometimes, he just didn’t wrestle his best match.”

Dibert is 19-2 with 14 pins and is the top-ranked 182-pounder in the Mirror coverage area. He’s well on his way to his fourth 30-win season after going 30-8 as a freshman, 31-8 as a sophomore and 36-8 last season. He’s 116-26 in his career with 62 pins.

What is remarkable about the career record is came up as a freshman wrestling at 160 and 171, taking on a lot of upperclassmen along the way.

“To come up as a freshman as an upperweight and compete against the older guys, winning that much is a nice statement to make,” Lazor said. “The thing about Dibert is he matured a little ahead of the other guys. He was at another level.”

“It was definitely tougher than it is now,” Dibert said. “I wasn’t as developed as the upperclassmen were. It was a challenge, but it was definitely worth it. I had a pretty successful freshman year. About halfway through the year is when I knew what weight I was going at for districts, and I wasn’t surprised about going to regionals.”

Dibert began wrestling when he was 5 or 6 years old, but he didn’t win a bout until he was in fourth grade. It was around that time that he considered giving up the sport to play basketball, but his dad, Jeff, urged him to stick out the rest of the wrestling season. He started winning, and played sixth at the PJW states that year.

“I definitely made the right decision to stick it out and keep wrestling,” Dibert said. “I wasn’t very good before that, but it just started to click for me. I just started wrestling better.”

Did he ever, placing four time at the PJWs, going undefeated in eighth grade and winning a title his freshman year. He won the first of his district titles as a freshman, and his first trip to Hershey came the following year.

He made the regional semifinals as a sophomore, where he lost to Burrell’s eventual state champion Travis McKillop, 14-5. He qualified for states by finishing fifth at 160, but he went 0-2 in Hershey.

He made the regional semifinals again last year as a 170-pound junior, but he lost to United’s District 6 champ John Blankenship, 5-3. He placed fourth to qualify for states, and he ran into a buzzsaw in the first round – Bethlehem Catholic’s eventual state champ Elliot Ridick – and he lost his first consolation go 0-2 again.

“Both years, the last match were close matches,” Dibert said. “It was frustrating not moving on.”

Dibert, who will likely continue his wrestling career at Clarion University, trained hard in the offseason, running more, lifting three or four times a week and putting on weight for football. Dibert and 170-pounder Bradie Bollman are considering a drop in weight for the Thomas Tournament, but that was still up in the air as of Sunday.

While he has won three district titles, he’s only won one Thomas gold – his sophomore year. Last year, he was third.

Whatever weight he’s going it, he wants to continue to get better. Ranked sixth by OTM, he’s won 10 straight bouts since his ultimate tiebreaker loss to Chambersburg’s Dontez King at the Chambersburg Duals. His other loss came at the Duals to Bermudian Springs’ Tristan Sponseller, who took third in Hershey last season.

“It was early in the year [against King], and it was the first match I had gone three periods,” Dibert said. “I’d rather have a loss at the beginning of the year than in the end. It was a good learning experience. Sponseller is really tough. I watched film from that match, and there are some things I picked up on. There are things that have to be corrected.

“I’ve been looking forward to districts and district duals all year. I knew we had a good team coming on, and I’m really excited. I tell Coach Lazor we have more fun than any other team around. This sport has been real fun for me.”