Ridge still dominating D5 with coaching, young talent

Some District 5 wrestling teams probably looked at all of the Chestnut seniors graduating last season, including 2017 state champion Justin McCoy, and thought the 2018-19 season might be the year the Lions come back to the pack.

Nope, didn’t happen.

Instead, the Lions reloaded, filling their lineup with a lot of young talent, including four freshmen and two sophomores.

Ridge is 12-0 going into the PIAA Team Duals, which begin Thursday at the Giant Center in Hershey, and is coming off of its seventh straight District 5 Duals title. The Lions, led by state title contender Jared McGill, rolled to a 59-12 win over Tussey Mountain in the semifinals and a 52-14 victory over an improving Bedford in the finals.

How are the Lions continuing do this?

It’s a combination of things.

They’ve got a great coach in Greg Lazor, who will go for his 200th win as Ridge’s coach when the Lions wrestle District 7 runner-up Freedom Area at 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Ridge also continues to churn out wrestlers who seem to be ahead of the game when they get to the high school level. And then once they get in the wrestling room, and Lazor and his coaching staff start coaching them, they get even better.

When will the Lions’ dominance end? Bedford was the dominant team in the area before Ridge started its run, and the Bisons came back to the pack.

It doesn’t look, though, that the Lions will fall back any time soon. They have four seniors in the starting lineup, including McGill, and more talented young stars are ready to make the jump from the junior high to the high school level.

The rest of District 5 will have to continue to find ways to catch up to Ridge.

The Lions, meanwhile, will see how far they can go in the PIAA Duals. Last year, they finished third, making the semifinals before losing to Southern Columbia.

After the Duals, they’ll aim for their eighth straight District 5 Tournament title.

Good job moms!

When Glendale 138-pounder Tristan Rutter broke his leg at the Fred Bell Tournament on Jan. 26, coach Billy Dubler wanted to recognize the junior’s tough luck.

That came in the form of a #rutterstrong T-shirts for the District 6 Class 2A Duals quarterfinal match against West Branch just three days after the injury.

My question to Dubler afterward was how in the world did that get done so quickly?

“We came up with it on Sunday,” Dubler said. “We had all of the wrestling moms on this group chat. I said to the group ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s get District 6 Duals on the front (of the shirt), and let’s go #rutterstrong on the back. Can we make that happen by Tuesday night?’

“They just ran with it from there. All of the wrestling moms get all of the credit for that. I don’t know what they did or how they did it, but they did it. When we ask for something, and we need something, the wrestling moms get it done.”

Weitoish sprains ankle

Philipsburg-Osceola star sophomore 152-pounder Hunter Weitoish sprained his ankle in the Mounties’ 51-15 District 6 Duals quarterfinal loss to Westmont Hilltop.

Coach Brad Pataky said Weitoish (21-5) should be back for the District 6 Class 2A Tournament on Feb. 15.

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

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