Central Mountain takes Top Hat Tournament.

By: Mitch Rupert | Williamsport Sun-Gazette | December 10, 2017


Less than a week ago, Central Mountain coach Biff Walizer said he thought he would have a good dual-meet team, but he wasn't sure how they'd be as a tournament team.

Consider that question answered.

The Wildcats scored 209 points and crowned three champions to win the team title at the Tom Best Memorial Top Hat Tournament on Saturday. Central Mountain scored nearly 60 more points than second-place Line Mountain (149.5). Muncy was third with 146.5 points.

Seth Andrus (132 pounds), Logan Long (145) and Tanner Weaver (170) all won titles for the Wildcats, who had 11 of their 14 wrestlers finish in the Top 8. Johnny Shreffler (113) and Jacob Edwards (285) were tournament runners-up.

Montoursville's Wyatt Lutz (120), Gavin Hoffman (195) and Cameron Wood (220) were local champions, as were Muncy's Jacob Blair (113) and Joe Klock (132). Muncy's Bryce Vollman (126) and Montoursville's Gable Crebs (160) finished second.

Hoffman was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler after defeating Cocalico state eighth-place finisher Ben Fromm, 22-7, in the final. Weaver earned the most falls in the least amount of time after recording all four of his tournament wins by fall.

"I feel like we have a good team all around. Tournament, dual-meet, everything," Weaver said. "In upcoming tournaments, I think we'll be able to do as good or better."

Central Mountain's performance was so good that even first-year wrestler Kayde Busey won a pair of matches to place seventh for the Wildcats. But not only were they the only team to enter 14 wrestlers into the tournament, their 11 placewinners were the most in the tournament.

This is the kind of example Andrus and Weaver wanted to set for the rest of the team. All three Central Mountain champions won their first Top Hat title Saturday. Andrus did it by cruising through a 132-pound bracket which saw him score two falls on Friday night before beating two regional qualifiers by a combined nine points on Saturday in the final two rounds.

Long posted three comfortable wins, including a fall over regional qualifier Caleb Shaffer of Line Mountain in the semifinals, before grinding out a 3-0 win over Clearfield's Caleb Freeland in the finals. Weaver destroyed anybody in his path to a championship. None of his matches went six minutes, including his final against Fort LeBoeuf regional qualifier Brent Burbules, where he recorded a fall in 1 minutes, 10 seconds.

Of the 38 bout wins recorded by Central Mountain wrestlers in the tournament, 29 of them earned bonus points, or 76.3 percent of their wins.

"Coach talked to us beforehand about bonus points and getting as many as we can," Weaver said. "It's my senior year and I want to get stuff done and do as good as I can, but I want to show the younger kids that you need to work to get there. And if you do, it'll show on the mat."

"It's awesome to see everyone contributing," said Andrus, who is a two-time regional qualifier. "It's nice to see that we can win tournaments. Hopefully we can keep it rolling."

The Wildcats seemed to agree the Top Hat was the perfect tournament to get them prepared for next week's King of the Mountain in which the level of competition gets ratcheted up even more. This tournament was about building some confidence.

It's that confidence, they said, which will not only help the team be successful throughout the season, but help the individual wrestlers try to get past the regional tournament and earn a spot in Hershey, something both Andrus and Weaver are looking to do for the first time.

"I just feel motivated this year," Andrus said. "After two years of getting so close with regionals, I'm working harder than ever."

"I came out to get it done, and that's what I did. I wanted to score as many points as I could in the early matches," Weaver said. "When it got to the second day, I wanted to finish the match as quick as I could. I didn't want to have to wrestle six minutes if I didn't have to."

For the past two years, Montoursville's Lutz has come up short of a Top Hat title because of a Central Mountain wrestler. He and current Bucknell wrestler Geo Barzona wrestled some stellar matches in the Top Hat finals over the past two seasons, but Lutz wasn't able to come away with the win.

This weekend the Warriors' senior looked much different than he has in past Top Hat tournaments. He was more confident in his movements and took all his shots with conviction. It led Lutz to his first title, defeating regional qualifier and state-ranked Kayde Althouse in the 120 final, 9-8.

The match got a little dicey in the third period, but Lutz was able to fend off some last-second shot attempts to win. His two wins Saturday both came over regional qualifiers, the first was a 17-2 technical fall over Titusville's Hunter Thompson. The second was the one-point win over Althouse.

"I think I dominated a little more than what the score said. I think I just kept giving up stupid takedowns and I was giving up escapes," said Lutz, who moved into 10th place on Montoursville's career wins list with 118. "My confidence coming into this year is a lot different. I came in thinking I was going to dominate everyone. I still feel like I can wrestle better than what I did (Saturday)."

Much like Lutz, Blair was looking to dominate. The sophomore is coming off winning his first state medal in March, a season in which he said he proved he was capable of wrestling on a state level. Now he wants to get to a level which can help him reach his goal of winning a state championship.

Winning a Top Hat title in the fashion he did was the first step. Blair won his first two bouts of the tournament by fall before posting five takedowns in the final to beat Shreffler, 11-3.

"My new mentality is go, go, go," Blair said. "I feel really good on my feet. I emphasized that in the summer. It was one of my weaknesses in the past, but now it's one of my strengths."