Irwin: Give edge to Ridge in tourney’s loaded field

Here’s a question that many coaches, fans and wrestlers try to answer but because of the quality of the Thomas Subaru Tournament, the answer is a hard one to get right:

Who is going to win the tournament? The tournament has so many good teams and wrestlers, it’s hard to predict what will happen. This year’s tourney begins Friday at Bedford High School and ends Saturday evening.

Defending champion Chestnut Ridge appears to be the team favorite. The Lions won last year’s title by 21.5 points, 213-191.5, over Bedford, while South Fayette (180.5) finished third. Here’s a closer look at the top teams:

Chestnut Ridge: The Lions don’t have any 2013 champions returning, but they have a 2012 champ back in Trent Crouse (145) and possible champs like Aaron Burkett (106), Derrick Claar (138), Conner Buttry (182) and Austin Buttry (285).

Huntingdon: The Bearcats have traditionally been more of a dual meet team, but with returning state third-placer Collin Glorioso (113) and freshman stars like Jacob Oliver (145) and Tyler Scott (120) and a host of others in a balanced lineup, they are a threat to take the team crown.

Bedford: The Bisons have returning champions in Johnathan Gabriel (113), Ryan Easter (132) and Garrett Thomas (138) and a runner-up in Toby Brett (145) who will have to score a lot of team points.

Berlin Brothersvalley: The Mountaineers lost a clash with Ridge this month, 39-25. Returning champ Bryce Fochtman (160) and teammates Joe Swank (120), Stewart Trulick (220), Braden Fochtman (145), Taylor Cahill (152) and Toby Cahill (195) give Berlin a shot.

West Branch: The Warriors’ only dual meet loss has been to Brookville (which just beat Ridge). The Warriors are led by returning tourney runner-up Buzzy Maines (220), fellow unbeaten Parker Bumbarger (145), once-beaten Joey Couteret (106) and Luke Slippey (152) and twice-beaten Morgan Selepack (285).

South Fayette: The Lions have rolled to a 15-0 record and have returning runners-up in unbeaten Mike Carr (132) and once-beaten J.J. Walker (160) to go with once-beaten Grant Fetchet (152).

Burket done for season

Central, which is coming off of winning the Richland Tournament team title, will be part of the Thomas field, but the improved Scarlet Dragons won’t be at full strength.

Kale Burket will most likely have right knee surgery this week, Central coach Mike Shippy said. Burket had surgery on the same knee right after placing sixth at 113 pounds at the Southwest Regional Tournament last season as a sophomore. Burket, who was 3-2 at 120 pounds this season, re-injured the knee a little over a week ago.

Teammate Jordan Quarello, who finished third in the District 6 tournament at 126 last season as a freshman, has been out all season with a right shoulder injury he sustained at the end of football season. He had surgery and will undergo rehab on it.

“Both Kale and Jordan will be able to come back next year, though,” Shippy said. “The kids we do have are working hard.”

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