Ridge trio victorious in openers
HERSHEY – Despite wrestling in the PIAA Class AA Championships two other times and helping Chestnut Ridge finish fourth in the PIAA Duals at the Giant Center, senior 170-pounder Tyler Dibert admitted he was a little nervous going into the state tournament.
No matter, Dibert was in control the whole time in his preliminary bout Thursday against South Williamsport’s Justin Knee, and he won, 6-3. It was his first win in five state bouts.
“It’s a relief,” Dibert said. “I haven’t been able to win here the past two years and to come in and get the first win is a big relief. I don’t think I wrestled the best I could, but you just have to keep winning and moving on. I think my nerves played a part in it.”
“I told him the monkey’s off your back now, so go have some fun,” Ridge coach Greg Lazor said.
It was a good first day for Dibert’s teammates, also. Ridge went 3-for-3 in the preliminary round as state tournament newbies Dan Albright and Austin Buttry also moved on at 195 and 285, respectively. Albright earned a 2-1 win over Corry’s Ryan Morris, and Buttry pinned Susquenita’s Brent Sterner in 2:48.
“I thought we had an opportunity to win all three,” Lazor said. “I’m not going to lie. I didn’t guarantee all three, but we didn’t hit any of the regional champ studs, so I knew we had a chance. All three of them were excited, and we’re happy with the outcome, obviously.”
Ridge is tied with Southern Columbia for sixth in the team standings with eight points. Bethlehem Catholic leads Benton in the team race by 6.5 points, 20.5-14.
Buttry’s pin set up a quarterfinal matchup with Tussey Mountain’s Mitchell Hall, who survived a 3-2 overtime ultimate tiebreaker win over Union City’s Jeff Burger.
In all, seven of the 11 area Class AA wrestlers won their first bouts. Huntingdon’s Collin Glorioso (106), Claysburg-Kimmel’s Josh Brown (113) and Bedford’s Ryan Easter (120) also advanced.
Easter had the most nerve-wracking bout of the area wrestlers as he rode out Saucon Valley’s Bryan Israel in the ultimate tiebreaker of a scoreless bout to win, 1-0.
Glorioso, at states for the first time, earned a convincing 6-0 win over Lancaster Catholic’s Joe Lobeck, while Brown, wrestling in his third state tournament, rolled to a 7-1 victory over Troy’s Ethan Calkins.
Three other area wrestlers are still alive in the consolations in Moshannon Valley’s James Stodart (195) and Jake Ludwig (220) and Bedford’s Tanner Williams (152). One more win by any of the area guys assures them of at least eighth place.
The only wrestler that was eliminated was Bedford’s Caleb Grimes (170), who made it to states despite being at least 10 pounds under but went 0-2 Thursday.
Stodart lost his first bout, 3-1, to Bethlehem Catholic’s Josh Alpha, but he survived to win his consy bout in the tiebreaker, 3-1, over Saucon Valley’s Justin Blobe and broke Ryan Jacoby’s school career win record of 117.
Ludwig dropped an 8-4 decision to Saucon Valley’s Ray O’Donnell, who is one of the favorites at 220, and responded with a 7-1 victory over Central Columbia’s Mark McCracken.
“We know they’re capable of medaling here,” Mo Valley coach Justin Fye said. “The one nice thing is they’re going to wrestling kids who just lost.”
Williams dropped his opener, 5-2, to Halifax’s Robbie Moretz, but he made it to the second day by taking down Bethlehem Catholic’s Mark Maloney with a second left to win, 4-2.
Dibert scored two takedowns in the first two periods, and he reversed with 26 seconds left to advance to the quarters against Union City’s Tim Vargo (24-1).
“I have a quarters match against a regional champ, and he’s pretty good,” Dibert said. “I just have to go out and wrestle. It’s a winnable match. Every match down here is winnable as long as you’re in the tournament.”
“About midway through his match, he kind of had that look on his face,” Lazor said. “I give him crap about it all the time. Sometimes he’ll get a little frustrated or he’ll get a look when things aren’t going as smooth as usual. He has to clear that mind and let his natural wrestling flow.”
Easter (34-2) is making his third appearance here, but his first bout was a rematch of the fifth-place bout from two years ago. Both controlled each other from the top position, so when Easter won the flip of the disk for the ultimate tiebreaker, he didn’t hesitate to choose top.
“I really couldn’t get out on him, and he couldn’t get out on me,” said Easter, who faces Saegertown’s Tyler Vath (44-4) in the quarters. “So, it was pretty much an easy decision to go on top.”
Israel did stand briefly at the beginning of the rideout, but Easter forced him back to the mat and wasn’t letting go.
“Once I caught that wrist, I knew I had it. I wasn’t letting go,” Easter said. “I had a death grip on it.”
“That was real nervewracking,” Bedford coach Brian Creps said. “If [the disk flip] had gone the other way, I’m not sure what would have happened because we got ridden out for two minutes.”
Brown (28-7) dominated Calkins on his feet, notching three takedowns in finally getting a preliminary win in his sixth Hershey bout. Brown will face Kane’s Cody Blankenship (24-4) in the quarters.
“It was my first first time for winning a first match down here, so it felt pretty good,” Brown said. “I just want to keep moving forward. My first two times I was nervous because it was different, but it’s my third time here, so I’m used to it.”
“I thought he was real aggressive,” C-K coach Dave Marko said. “I would have liked to have seen him open up even more. I thought the low ankle was available even more than what he took, but he seized his opportunities.”
Glorioso (36-4) scored two takedowns and a reversal in advancing to the quarters to face Brookville’s Taylor Ortiz (33-7).
“It was good to get that first match out of the way,” Glorioso said. “I thought after that first takedown I could relax a little more, but I knew I had to keep on him. The match would not be over until the whistle blew.”
Albright (37-6) made a second-period reversal and some tough riding stand in his win, which him advanced to the quarters against Kittanning’s Zac Croyle (29-11), the Southwest Regional runner-up who beat him last week.
“He was the one I was least confident of,” Lazor said, “but Albright wrestles tough. He can slow the best of them down into his style, and he did that.”
Buttry (38-6) was in a scoreless bout until he put Sterner on his back and pinned him. Buttry walked off the mat with a big smile.
“Buttry has as much mat sense as any heavyweight down here,” Lazor said. “We’ll take some little mat scrambles because a lot of times, he’ll end up on top.”
Hall (33-3) chose down for the ultimate tiebreaker, and 4 seconds into it, he escaped to get that bout with Buttry. Hall is 3-0 against Buttry, but the last two have gone to overtime.
“I was nervous,” Hall said. “It was the first time I’ve wrestled here at states, but he was a tough kid. I just had to wrestle smart and to the best of my abilities.”
“That was a nice win,” Tussey coach John Husick said. “His confidence level hopefully continues to rise. We have Buttry next, and hopefully we can keep the momentum and trend with Buttry going.”