Niebauer’s move to CC as coach was inevitable

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Matt Niebauer was with his brother, Todd, as an assistant coach at Penn Cambria so long he lost track of how long he was there.

Through most of Todd’s 16 previous years as head coach, Matt was there in dual meets, regular season tournaments and postseason tournaments. But in the spring, after Bob Nikolishen left his Central Cambria head coaching position, Matt was hired.

For Matt, who faced off against Todd on Friday night for the first time, the move was inevitable.

“The last couple years, I’ve been helping out the (Central Cambria) elementary because my son (Burke) goes here,” Matt said. “So, it’s been pretty hard going from practice in Cresson, coming home, getting something to eat real quick and then coming here to coach elementary.

“Even if I hadn’t gotten this job, it was about time to leave. I had talked about it with Todd, and he understood. The time was just getting too hard to deal with.”

Todd said he expected the move, and he was happy that Matt got the job.

“Matt had been with me for so long, he was my right-hand man,” Todd said. “You look at that like man, we lose a lot. He’s so creative with his workouts. I knew it was coming. He wasn’t going to stick around, and then he wanted to stay for my son’s (Bryce) senior year.

“But I was happy when he got it. You want better coaches in the system. You want better coaches to coach against. I don’t want to beat somebody that isn’t a good, knowledgeable coach. Matt will do his homework. He is up on things. He’s not that guy that gets complacent. I know I’ll have to be at the top of my game to have to beat him.”

Both wrestled for District 6 Hall of Fame coach Tom Vaux at Central Cambria. Todd graduated in 1990, while Matt was a 1994 grad. Like most brothers, they were very competitive with each other.

“You can ask Tom Vaux how many fist fights we got into in the wrestling room when I was the coach and he was the wrestler,” Todd said. “We were very competitive, but you know what, we worked together all of our lives through a lot of things, through wrestling, through work. You know how family is. You have bad days and good days. Obviously the good days have way outnumbered the bad days.”

Thomas, Ultimate Warrior

Two big tournaments — the 27-team Thomas Chevrolet Tournament and the 31-team Ultimate Warrior Tournament — will be held on Friday and Saturday at Bedford and West Branch, respectively.

Chestnut Ridge will be trying to win its fifth straight Thomas title. Ridge’s Jared McGill will be vying for his third Thomas title, while teammate Kai Burkett will go for his second.

The 27-team tournament is sort of a preview for the Southwest Regional Tournament. It’s always interesting to see how many champions and placewinners from the Thomas Tournament win and place at the regional.

Wrestling begins at 10 a.m. on Friday with the pigtail round. The tournament resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday with a consolation round, and the semifinals are set for 10:30. The finals will get under way at around 5:30 p.m.

The Ultimate Warrior begins at 11:30 a.m. Friday and resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Todd Irwin can be reached at tirwin@altoonamirror.com. He can be followed on Twitter at @ToddIrwin1.

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