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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Semifinal 1-20-2013

Some computer issues delayed The Semifinal, but as there's no stopping it as we hit the stretch run in the wrestling season.

First Period
Stars and studs: Sure, Chestnut Ridge could have been listed here in just about any week of the season. But the Lions definitely deserve a spot on this list after going 7-0 on the week to improve to 18-1. The cumulative score for the week was 445-53 and average score of 64-8. If that doesn't explain Chestnut Ridge's dominance, how about this - the Lions won 84 of the 98 individual bouts in those matches. Sure, there was some weak competition in there, but there was also Tuesday night's 43-19 victory over Berlin Brothersalley. ... Local 285-pounders haven't gotten much attention this week. Aside from Chestnut Ridge's Austin Buttry, who is 20-0 and fifth in last week's Off the Mat rankings, it's not seen as a particularly strong weight class in my coverage area. But Richland's Matt Moose continued to beat everyone they have wrestled. Moose missed some time earlier in the year, but the Rams' NWCA site shows him with an 11-0 record, and he picked up his biggest win on Saturday, pinning United's Benjamin Mountan in a battle of appropriately named heavyweights. ... Speaking of United, how about Charles Hropovich? The Lions' senior improved to 10-0 with a couple of big wins on Saturday at the Richland Coaches' Duals. He beat Somerset's Logan Eller 12-3 and pinned Cambria Heights' Tyler Crawford - who has only one other loss on the season - in 1:39. ... One thing I forgot when I did these at 5:30 this morning was Westmont Hilltop's Logan Blackburn and Don Shovestull in the Escape the Rock tournament. Blackburn placed eighth at 120 pounds while Shovestull was fifth at 220 pounds in a very difficult tournament.

Second Period
On deck: As I said above, this is when we really hit the stretch run. The Richland Coaches' Duals lead into the Thomas Automotive Family Tournament in Bedford, which leads to the district duals, state duals, District 6 AA tournament, District 5 tournament, regionals and states. And with the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic and NCAA tournaments on my calender again this year, I should be at a wrestling event every weekend from now until the end of March.
There are a few interesting duals on Tuesday, with Meyerdale at North Star topping the list. The Red Raiders have flown under the radar, which is the way that coach Chadd Sines says that he likes it, but Meyersdale begins a stretch run of its own, with duals against North Star, Berlin Brothersvalley and Somerset on its schedule.
Thursday's schedule is pretty light, with Blairsville's match at Westmont Hilltop the highlight.
The real action begins on Friday with the Thomas tournament, which has 27 teams this year. I plan to have a preview before the event, but here are the competing teams, along with their districts:  Blairsville-6, Bedford-5, Berlin Brothersvalley-5, Beth Center-7, Cambria Heights-6, Central-6 Chestnut Ridge-5, Claysburg-6, Conemaugh Township-5, Everett-5, Huntingdon-6, Jefferson-Morgan-7, Newport-3, North Star-5, Northern Bedford-5, Northern Garrett-Md, Meyersdale-5, Mount Pleasant-7, Penn Cambria-6, Richland-6, Shade-5, Somerset-6, South Fayette-7, Tri-Valley-11, Tussey Mountain-5 Tyrone-6 and West Branch-6.

Monday, January 21

Tuesday, January 22
Penn Cambria at Bedford, 7 p.m.
Greater Johnstown at Cambria Heights, 7 p.m.
Forest Hills at Central Cambria, 7 p.m.
Meyersdale at North Star, 7 p.m.
Shade at Tussey Mountain, 7 p.m.
Richland at Westmont Hilltop, 7 p.m.
Ligonier Valley at Marion Center, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 23
Portage at Berlin Brothersvalley, 7 p.m.
Chestnut Ridge at Conemaugh Township, 7 p.m.

Thursday, January 24
Northern Cambria at United, 7 p.m.
Blairsville at Westmont Hilltop, 7 p.m.
Huntingdon at Central Cambria, 7:15 p.m.

Friday, January 25
Berlin Brothersvalley, Cambria Heights, Conemaugh Township, Meyersdale, North Star, Penn Cambria, Richland, Shade, Somerset at Bedford Tournament

Saturday, January 26
Berlin Brothersvalley, Cambria Heights, Conemaugh Township, Meyersdale, North Star, Penn Cambria, Richland, Shade, Somerset at Bedford Tournament

Third Period
Wrestling's a tough sport. We all know that and it's what we love about it. It's arguably the most difficult high school sport out there and we expect the young men who step on the mat to be gladiators who are conditioned to go all out for six minutes or, in some cases, more.
In what other sport do you get booed for taking an injury timeout?
It's a bit of a wrestling tradition, but it doesn't make it right.
I saw it again on Thursday night at Berlin, in the match where Chestnut Ridge's Trent Crouse beat Berlin Brothersvalley's Chris Miller.
Miller led 5-0 before Crouse got a takedown late in the second period. Miller took injury time, drawing boos from the Ridge fans. The issue also was raised on message boards.
This isn't meant to condemn Chestnut Ridge fans. If the roles had been reversed, I'm sure Berlin fans would have had the same reaction. And I can't say I've always been above it. I've been guilty of booing those I felt were faking injuries in the past, too. But my role as an impartial observer has changed my outlook on the practice.
I'm not naive enough to believe that all injury timeouts are taken for the right reasons. Some are certainly used as a chance for a wrestler to catch his breath. But I'm no longer so quick to judge.
That was reinforced on Thursday, as I sat beside Miller's worried mother and other Berlin fans, who said that he almost never takes injury time and were hurt by suggestions that he was faking an injury.
I still don't know what happened to Miller, but he had some frightening symptoms the rest of the night, which were monitored by the team's trainer.
There were concussion fears, which is always a murky situation.
The trainer actually recommended that he sit out Saturday's Mountaineer Duals. Facing the opportunity to pick up his 100th career victory at home in the event, Miller convinced his mother and his trainer that he was OK to wrestle.
Was it a wise decision? I don't know. Thankfully, he didn't get injured and got the five wins that he needed for the milestone, so it had a happy ending. If his symptoms returned and kept him out long term, the decision certainly would have been second-guessed.
As for me, I'm done trying to decide if someone is injured or not.


  1. Hey Eric, just wondering if there is any chance of you possibly doing a live video feed for the finals at the Thomas Tourney again this year? I always go for the saturday morning and afternoon portion, and really enjoyed watching the finals on my computer last year. Thanks Eric hope you have a good week.

  2. As long as I get the approval from the fine folks at Bedford, I'm willing to do it again. The chat service that I've used in the past is no longer free, but I've been asking our computer guy here how we can do it, so hopefully I can still make it work.