The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 18, 2013

Chestnut Ridge rolls over Berlin

Eric Knopsnyder

BERLIN — For almost four minutes, it looked like Berlin Brothersvalley might be able to grab some early momentum in a bid to knock off Chestnut Ridge, which is the No. 2 wrestling team in Class AA in the according to Off the Mat rankings.

The meet started in a good spot for the No. 23 Mountaineers – 132 pounds – and Chris Miller bolted out to a big lead over Trent Crouse, whipping the standing-room only crowd into a frenzy.

Then, Crouse staged a furious rally and the Lions showed why they’re not only one of the best teams in District 5, but possibly in the state. Chestnut Ridge won seven matches in a row at one point and rolled to a 43-19 victory.

“Berlin is one heck of a team,” Chestnut Ridge coach Greg Lazor said after his team improved to 13-1 on the season. “If you didn’t come to this match, that score has no true bearing on what this was. It was five real tough, close matches that could have gone either way and they went our way.”

One of the biggest came in the opening match, even if neither Crouse nor Lazor wanted it to start that way.

“I was like, ‘Oh great!’ ” Crouse said of his thoughts on finding out that the random draw chose his weight for the opener. “I don’t like being the first guy. I just had to step up and get my game face on to help the team out.”

Crouse trailed 5-0 before he scored a takedown with 10 seconds left in the second period. He dominated the third period, scoring three takedowns and a set of three nearfall points for an 11-7 victory.

“Trent Crouse was a huge win to start the night,” Berlin coach Jason Cornell said after his team fell to 5-1. “That just got the momentum going. Coming back from a 5-0 deficit, that shows a lot about Trent. He’s got a lot of guts. He kept going and plugging after Chris. He wrestled an awesome match.”

Braden Fochtman gave Berlin its first lead with a 16-3 major decision of Colby Hillegass at 138, but Chestnut Ridge got some momentum back with Jerimiah Zimmerman’s 4-3 victory over Eric Darr at 145.

Berlin won the next two – getting Blake Miller’s fall over Kyle Winegardner at 152 and Bryce Fochtman’s 2-0 victory over Connor Buttry at 160 – but Lazor had no problem being down 13-6 at that point.

“Coming in, we knew 132 to 160 was their meat (of the lineup),” he said. “We had concerns through there. When they pulled 132 to start the match, it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for. We talked to the boys in (the locker room) and said if you pull a couple of wins out of these first five, we have our streak coming.”

They certainly did.

Bradie Bollman started the run with a 9-0 major decision over Trevor Moore at 170 and Tyler Dibert followed with a fall over Shane Pepper.

Brad Winegardner scored a takedown with 1.2 seconds left in the third period for a 6-4 victory over Stew Trulick at 195 and Dan Albright picked up another dramatic win for the Lions at 220. Mitchell Walker was called for stalling with 1.4 seconds left in the first overtime period, giving Albright a 4-3 victory.

“Dan Albright’s an excellent wrestler,” Cornell said. “He wrestled a nice match tonight and Mitchell stayed with him. I’m already looking forward to the next match between them.”

Connor Buttry pinned Anthony Collins at 285 and Aaron Burkett pinned Emil Kiesnowski at 106 to clinch the dual-meet victory, but the Lions weren’t done just yet. Blake Dunlap beat Tommy DeArmitt 8-2 at 113 pounds for Chestnut Ridge’s seventh consecutive victory.

Berlin finally snapped the streak with Joey Swank’s pin of Sam Shank at 120 pounds, but Chestut Ridge ended it on a high note, as Derrick Claar pinned E.J. Custer at 126.

“They showed up,” Cornell said of Chestnut Ridge. “They were No. 2 in the state, the team to beat. We were the underdog. I think the hype got to us. We were a little too anxious.”

There certainly was plenty of excitement in the gymnasium, with fans from both sides turning out in full force and in full throat.

“Unbelievable,” Lazor said of the atmosphere. “When you’re in the middle of the match and you hear the fans chanting back and forth, enjoying each other – I didn’t hear anything wrong, just a bunch of people cheering on their school with chants and stuff – that’s awesome. That makes it real fun.”