The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

January 27, 2013

Chestnut Ridge triumphs in Bedford tournament

BEDFORD — Seven local wrestlers won individual titles at the Thomas Subaru Wrestling Tournament on Saturday night.

None of them was from Chestnut Ridge.

But that didn’t keep the Lions from running away with the team title.

It just made the celebration a bit more subdued.

“We’re leaving with more of a disappointing feeling than a happy feeling from that aspect,” Chestnut Ridge coach Greg Lazor said. “Overall, the boys wrestled well. Very tough tournament, obviously. A lot of good competition here and the boys battled all weekend long. To come out on top here, we had a good day in the long run.”

Chestnut Ridge is the No. 2 dual-meet squad in Class AA, according to the latest edition of Off the Mat rankings, which speaks to the Lions’ depth.

“I don’t know if we have that absolutely killer stud throughout the lineup but we have 14 guys that are pretty darn good and ready to battle,” Lazor said. “That makes for a solid team and it paid off this weekend.”

Bedford finished second to Chestnut Ridge and crowned three individual champions: Jon Gabriel (106 pounds), Ryan Easter (120) and Garrett Thomas (126).

Berlin Brothersvalley finished fourth – one spot behind South Fayette in the 27-team tournament – and had a champion in 160-pounder Bryce Fochtman.

Richland’s Nick Naglic (138), Meyersdale’s Gavin Berkley (182) and Somerset’s Jake Nickelson (195) also captured championships.

Naglic beat Bedford’s Toby Brett 9-3 in the finals – the same score that he won by in the teams’ dual meet last week.

“I wrestled him on Wednesday,” Naglic said. “I knew I could come out here and do the same thing.”

In some ways, his semifinal victory over Blairsville’s Noah Tarr – who had beaten Naglic a week earlier – was more impressive.

“It was more of a personal thing,” Naglic said. “Obviously winning the whole tournament is a big deal, but it was more of a personal goal to come out here and beat (Tarr).”

The 25th edition of the tournament featured a couple of firsts at 182 pounds. Berkely’s 4-1 victory over Lyle Troutman of Tri-Valley gave Meyersdale, which was making its initial appearance in the tournament, its first champion. It also was the junior’s first time in the finals of a varsity tournament.

“It’s definitely awesome to be the first (Meyersdale) champ in this tournament,” Berkley said. “It’s a great tournament. I always pay attention to it. To win it like that, I’m blessed.”

Fochtman’s 3-2 win over J.J. Walker of South Fayette at 160 gave Berlin its first champion since Zack Lee won a 2007 title. Fochtman scored a takedown in the opening minute and then held off Walker in the final seconds.

“It was just hard-fought,” Fochtman said. “He kept me on my toes the entire match.”

Nickelson built a 6-2 lead in the second period over Dan Albright of Chestnut Ridge, thanks in large part to a 3-point nearfall he got with a crossface cradle. Albright became one of the few wrestlers to break free from Nickelson’s cradle, but the Somerset wrestler held on for a 7-4 victory.

“I knew he was real strong,” Nickelson said. “I was glad he held it as long as I did. I didn’t know how long I was going to be able to hold it.”

Albright was one of four Chestnut Ridge wrestlers to lose in the finals, joining Trent Crouse (126), Tyler Dibert (170) and Austin Buttry (285).

Crouse was beaten 12-8 at 126 pounds by Bedford’s Thomas in a rematch of their exciting meeting in a dual, which went to overtime.

“It was real close last time,” Thomas said. “(Saturday night’s) was a high-scoring match. Lots of points scored – 12-8 is high-scoring for the finals.”

Just before Thomas stepped on the mat his teammate, Easter, pinned South Fayette’s Mike Carr for the 120-pound title.

That was Bedford’s second fall of the finals. Gabriel delivered the first one to cap an impressive comeback against Jefferson-Morgan’s Brendan Howard at 106 pounds. Howard led 6-3 entering the third. Gabriel turned him to make it 6-5, then pinned him with 21 seconds remaining.

“Top’s not really my strong suit,” Gabriel said. “It made me a little bit nervous, knowing that I was going on top. I just tried to work in what I’m good at: Turks and some legs. I ended up getting two Turks in and after the second Turk, I got the fall.”

Bedford’s Tanner Williams was a runner-up at 152 pounds.

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