FISHERTOWN — The banner hanging in Chestnut Ridge’s Richard W. Fisher Gymnasium that lists the school’s District 5 Duals championship years has one space open at the bottom of it.
It won’t anymore, as the Lions rolled to another crown in 2019, their seventh consecutive title. On Saturday, they defeated Tussey Mountain 59-12 in the semifinals and then beat Bedford 52-14 in the final.
Chestnut Ridge will again represent District 5 at the PIAA Class AA State Duals in Hershey this week, drawing a first-round match on Thursday at 2 p.m. against District 7-AA runner-up Freedom.
“That’s one of the goals every year, because without it, you don’t get to go to states,” said Lions’ coach Greg Lazor. “It’s always something that we strive for and take a lot of pride in. The boys work for it, and it’s a good moment every year.”
Chestnut Ridge, 12-0, never trailed in the title match against Bedford. The Lions had six pins in the victory, including falls in two of the first three bouts by Gryphon Callihan (126) and Luke Moore (138).
At 145, Bedford’s Nathan Gabriel had a 7-3 win that brought the Bisons within four points, but that was the closest they would get from there. Chestnut Ridge claimed the next four weights, on decisions by Daniel Moore (152) and Seth Holderbaum (160), a pin by Jared McGill (170), and a forfeit to Austin Crouse (182).
Owen Biddle’s 5-1 win at 195 kept Bedford mathematically alive, but Ridge’s Duane Knisely closed the door by pinning Jaydin Vargas in 2:54 in the 220-pound bout. Dalton Seace (285) and Kai Burkett (106) added pins for the hosts after that.
“Coach (Lazor) always tells us if we practice hard, then we’ll achieve what we want,” Crouse said of being a member of four district team champions. “It’s always a dream to go down to Hershey.”
“We definitely didn’t want to be the team to lose (a district team title),” added Seace. “As long as we give it our best and wrestle a hard six minutes, we’re pretty good to go.”
Chestnut Ridge now sets its focus on the state duals, an event where it’s had a lot of success, including last year’s third-place finish.
“I think we’ll be in the mix with a lot of teams,” said Lazor. “At the beginning of the year, I didn’t know how we would fare. But we’ve had our younger guys really improve and we’ve gotten our weights figured out. I think a medal is definitely possible. We’re going to have to wrestle well and save every point we can. But we have a shot, and it will be fun to see what happens.”
In the semifinals, Chestnut Ridge won 11 bouts in a 59-12 victory over fifth-seeded Tussey Mountain. The Lions got pins from Weyandt (132), Luke Moore (138), Daniel Moore (152), Seth Holderbaum (160), McGill (182), Burkett (106), and Nathan Holderbaum (113).
The Titans took both of the marquee matchups though, as Brady Villa held on for a 1-0 win over Callihan at 126, while Damon Lemin tallied a 4-3 decision against Crouse.
Bedford took an 8-6 split in the bouts on second-seeded North Star to win 37-31. That included close decisions by Emerick (120), Gavin Habinyak (138), and Lingenfelter (170), and the Bisons closed it out with three pins in a span of four bouts, from Dull (182), Vargas (220), and Lynch (285).
With it, they avenged a 48-30 loss to the Cougars in December, and the semifinal victory for Bedford also marked the 800th dual meet win in program history.
Bedford coach Joel Easter has been extremely pleased with recent performances from his wrestlers.
“We had a lot better lineup than earlier in the season,” he said. “We didn’t really get the matchups with North Star, but Dull and Vargas stepped it up for us. I just kept telling the guys to let it fly because we’re the underdogs.
“I’m just really proud of the guys, including some of our backup kids. They’ve really bought into what we’re trying to do. And to get the 800th win for the school today is nice. I’m happy with the way we’re wrestling.”