The theme for Chestnut Ridge during the first day of the District 5 Class AA wrestling tournament: Throw it back.
The theme for Berlin Brothersvalley on Friday at Windber Area High School: Redemption.
Even if both squads didn’t have working narratives going, their performances were good enough to keep them 1-2 in the team standings after a day.
Both the Lions and Mountaineers have 10 wrestlers alive in the championship bracket heading into today’s action. Chestnut Ridge, which leads the field with 49.5 points, has all 14 grapplers alive heading into today while Berlin – sitting at 48 points – has 13 remaining.
Bedford is third in the team race with 42.5 points, Somerset follows with 37.5 and North Star is in fifth, a half-point behind the Golden Eagles.
Chestnut Ridge’s wrestlers chose to wear vintage singlets on Friday, opting for various looks throughout the squad’s recent history.
“That was something they like to do to have a little fun,” Lions coach Greg Lazor said. “They wanted to have a ‘Throwback Friday’ as they called it or something of that sort. They dug them out and asked if they could wear them. We’ve been talking all week about going old school, grinding and wrestling hard and in your face. Then they found those singlets (Friday) and wanted to wear them.”
That attitude pushed a multitude of wrestlers into the semifinals, slated to start at 10 a.m.
“We ended up with 10 in the semis,” Lazor said. “So, you know, that’s something to be happy with. But there was a couple matches where we let some things go ... Overall we got 10 in the semis and we’re towards the top.”
The Lions start today with Aaron Burkett (106 pounds), Blake Dunlap (113), Sam Shank (132), Derrick Claar (138), Trent Crouse (145), Colby Hillegass (160), Kyle Winegardner (170), Conner Buttry (182), Shane Davis (220) and Austin Buttry (285) in the semifinals.
Lazor said that the team will be sporting its current uniforms during today’s action.
The Mountaineers’ day saw a trio of wrestlers overcome opponents that defeated them multiple times during the season.
At 126, E.J. Custer pinned Chestnut Ridge’s Morgan Deremer at 5:30 to avenge two previous losses. Storm McDonald edged Meyersdale’s Brady McKenzie 5-4 at 138 to wipe away the the sting of three previous losses.
Shane Pepper, the Mountaineers’ 182-pounder decisioned North Star’s Hunter Connor 6-5 to make for two earlier losses.
“We got the guys through that we expected to get through,” Berlin Brothersvalley coach Jason Cornell said. “Some of those guys really gutted out previous losses that we had. Just a good testament to what those guys have done the last couple of weeks, continuing to work hard. They’re really focused coming into districts.”
Joining Custer, McDonald and Pepper in the semifinals are Thomas DeArmitt (113), Joe Swank (120), Braden Fochtman (145), Taylor Cahill (152), Bryce Fochtman (160), Toby Cahill (195) and Anthony Collins (285).
Having 10 wrestlers at this stage in the District 5 tournament is something that Cornell recognizes as a huge step forward for the Berlin program.
“We’re extremely pleased with 10,” Cornell said. “A few years ago, we didn’t even have 10 kids on the team. So to put 10 in the semis of the District 5 tournament is awesome.”
Somerset’s Landon Lohr made quick work of Everett’s Waylon Brennan in their quarterfinal bout at 170, scoring a 16-1 technical fall at 2:23 to earn his 100th career victory.
“It was pretty good,” Lohr said. “It was a big relief to get it out of the way.”
But Lohr doesn’t want to just stop at the century mark.
“(The focus is) to win districts, make it to states and hopefully get on the podium,” Lohr said.
The Golden Eagles pushed seven into today’s semifinals with Quinn Cole (106), Austin Hemminger (132), Jon Fabian (138), Sheldon Wagner (152), Mike Laue (160) and Logan Eller (195) joining Lohr.
Bedford also has seven in the semis with Jonathan Gabriel (113), Kyle Mehle (120), Jabel Warren (126), Ryan Easter (132), Garrett Thomas (138), Toby Brett (145) and Chance Williams (182) carrying the Bisons’ banner into Day 2.
North Star – Colton Gennett (120), Tevin Mostoller (152), Dillion Charlton (170), Thomas Miller (195) and Kevin Horner (220) – along with Meyersdale – Tanner Hetrick (132), Seth Deist (145), Christian Hutzell (160), Gavin Berkley (182) and Ty Smith (220) – each have five wrestlers alive in the championship bracket.
Conemaugh Township’s Nathaniel Thomas (106) and Kody Ofsanko (126) are alive in the semis while Shade’s Trevor Brown (285) rounds out the area representation in the championship bracket.
Shawn Curtis is the sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/shawncurtis430.