Irwin: Regional shows quality of Thomas tourney

The numbers don’t lie when you’re assessing how tough and grueling the Thomas Subaru Tournament is year after year.

A check of the number of wrestlers who placed in the top six at last year’s Southwest Regional Tournament shows that 33 kids who wrestled in the Thomas Tournament placed at regionals and 26 qualified for the PIAA Class AA Championships. Six of those wrestlers won regional titles, and two won state titles.

Whether those numbers are higher or lower this year will be determined later, but it’s a safe bet that they’ll be close to or even higher than last year’s total. Chestnut Ridge, which was ranked second in the state as a dual meet team heading into the tournament, won the team title on Saturday at Bedford, but it didn’t have any champions.

“I think the depth and the quality of the kids that are in the tournament will show at the end of the year,” said Bedford coach Brian Creps, whose team went 3-for-5 in the finals. “From the champions to some of the kids who were fourth or fifth, you’ll see down at states at some of the weight classes.”

“It’s grueling,” Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. “There are some studs here. We looked at 138 at one point, and the eight people left in the consys, and it looked like a tournament of who’s who’s, and that was the people in the consys. It’s great, though. You risk the injury bug when you come to a grueling thing like this, but with the experience you get from it, you have to take that chance.”

There will be wrestlers from this tournament who will be seeded higher at districts than they were over the weekend. Seeding at a tournament like Thomas has to be a headache for those involved. There were some wrestlers with one or two losses that weren’t seeded in the top six or seven.

“When you go to seed, there are a couple of things you try to keep into account,” Creps said. “You try to keep kids from the same districts away from each other. You take into account the prestige and the things that they’ve done in the postseason in the past. We have a points system that kind of gets us in the right direction.

“If you look, I think our seeds, for the most part, were as good as what anyone else could have seeded them in any other tournament. I sat down [Friday night] and counted up the semifinalists, and of the top four seeds, I think we maybe missed four of them. That’s a pretty good percentage for a tournament like this, where there’s a lot of competition.”

Creps pointed to the 113-pound weight class for an example. It included a regional runner-up in Claysburg-Kimmel’s Justin Brown, a state eighth-placer in Beth-Center’s Zach Swarrow, a state qualifier in Seth Carr and a returning Thomas champ in Tri-Valley’s Caleb Bordner. Carr beat Brown, 6-1, in the finals, and Bordner pinned Swarrow for third.

“You had state placewinners and everything else,” Creps said. “You just try to get them seeded as best as you can. With the quality of the tournament, I think all of the coaches understand if you don’t show up to wrestle, it really doesn’t matter where you’re seeded. I think everyone knows that there’s nowhere to hide, and so there’s really not much complaining about the seedings. You just show up and you wrestle.”

Rankings shake up

With many wrestlers dropping one weight, there’s a lot of movement in this week’s Mirror rankings, and they were as hard to figure out this week as the first ones.

Just at the top alone, there are six weights with new No. 1s, including 113 (C-K’s Brown), 120 (Easter), 126 (Bedford’s Garrett Thomas), 170 (Ridge’s Tyler Dibert), 182 (Ridge’s Bradie Bollman) and 220 (Moshannon Valley’s Jake Ludwig).

Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at He can be followed on Twitter at ToddIrwin1.