Progress was measured in assorted capacities at the Thomas Buick/GMC Wrestling Tournament at Richland High School.
In the case of Cambria Heights coach Mike Eckenrode, the tournament yielded two champions – Levi Niebauer at 160 pounds and Aaron Gill at 285 – and a second-place finish out of the 16 teams at the tournament.
“This will tell you where you’re at,” Eckenrode said. “And next week, we’re down at the Bedford tournament and that is going be a meat grinder that’ll really tell you where you’re at.”
Niebauer rolled to a pin over Ridgway’s Michael Popson at 3:25 in the 160 final while Gill gutted out a 6-4 decision over United’s Andrew Deitman at 285 to remain unbeaten on the year.
United took titles at 195 and 220 with Tyler Oliver taking 195-pound bracket with a 6-4 decision over Tyrone’s Jared Beckwith. Seth McLendon followed by scoring a 10-3 decision over Central’s Austin Conrath.
For the Lions, taking on the field in Richland showed where their grapplers stood with the postseason coming fast.
“It gives us a good indication of how our guys wrestle and what intensity they’re wrestling at,” United coach Tim Riskus said. “A lot of that’s conditioning. We already know that we need to improve our conditioning going into districts and to be competitive in the district duals, we just need to get into better physical condition and maybe drill a little bit more.”
With one champion, Central claimed the team title with 149.5 points, 10 ahead of Cambria Heights at 139.5. Central York (138.5), Somerset (137.5) and Blairsville (117.5) rounded out the top five.
The Scarlet Dragons’ Brock Biddle took the top spot at 113, wrapping up the bracket with a 6-3 decision over Central Cambria’s Ian Ostrowski. Central also sent wrestlers to the podium at 126 – Ethan Kennedy, fourth; 138 – Nick Hoenstine, second; 145 - Trae Shirey, fourth; 152 – Mike Mock, second; 170 – Blake Burket, fourth; 182 – Jared Ponder, fourth, and 220 – Conrath, second.
United (105), Central Cambria (103.5), Glendale (99.5), Ridgway (97) and Tyrone (96.5) filled out the top 10.
Central Cambria took home a pair of titles thanks to Max Murin’s dominating performance at 106, where he registered two quick pinfalls before defeating Central York’s Jacob Robison by a 12-0 major decision.
Tom Opdenhoff scored a 10-7 decision over Tyrone’s Aleic Hunter in the final at 132.
Host Richland, which switched the formatting of the tournament from a dual-meet tournament to a bracketed field this year, won titles at 145 – Nick Naglic – and at 170 – Nico Pecora.
Naglic scored a 15-5 major decision over Forest Hills’ Travis Templeton, though not without drama as Naglic built a 10-0 lead after two periods before having to battle out of a near-fall attempt through a large portion of the third period.
Pecora, in a 3-1 overtime win over Somerset’s Landon Lohr, registered a takedown 29 seconds into the extra period to remain unbeaten on the season.
Switching the tournament to a bracketed format lends optimism that Richland can draw a larger field in future years.
“I thought it went excellent,” Richland coach Mike Naglic said. “I thought we were right on schedule or ahead of schedule both days. The first night we were done early, (Saturday) it’s 7 o’clock and all the teams are out of here. We definitely have room to expand. I’d like to get some more teams next year and keep growing it as we go on.”
District 3’s Central York claimed titles at 120 when Dylan Chatterton decisioned Forest Hills’ Triston Law 3-0 just before Sam Butler’s 4-1 decision over Richland’s Adam George at 126.
The 120-pound bout saw Law allow an escape point to Chatterton to start the third period. A takedown try by Law was waved off as both wrestlers tumbled out of bounds with 18.9 seconds remaining. Chatterton secured the win with a late takedown just before time expired.
Tyrone’s Jason Schopp pinned Hoenstine at 5:01 in the 138-pound final. Blairsville’s Andrew Doak (152 pounds) and Scott Thompson (182) also took home championships. Doak decisioned Mock 9-3 while Thompson pinned Ridgway’s Sam Delhunty in 4:22.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/shawncurtis430.