By Pete Chiodo
After winning three state championships in the 1980s as a member of the Lakeview High School wrestling team, Boiling Springs head coach Rodney Wright has plenty of great memories regarding this area.
Now his wrestlers are making local memories of their own.
The Bubblers were nearly unstoppable on their way to the 2014 Tool City Wrestling Tournament team championship, which they hoisted Saturday evening at Meadville High School’s House of Thrills.
The Bubblers had two champions and seven other place-winners at the 35th annual edition of the tournament. They finished with 221.5 points, beating out second-place Fort LeBoeuf (185 points), third-place General McLane (181.5), Greenville in fourth (174) and Saegertown in fifth (149).
It was Boiling Springs’ second team championship. The Cumberland County squad’s first title was in 2009.
“We’ve done well here for the short amount of time our team has been coming to this tournament,” said Wright. His team was third last year. “It’s a tough tournament to win. There are a lot of good schools here. And it’s a little different style of wrestling than what we’re used to down at home. It’s a lot more aggressive in some respects. But there’s not a lot of stalling calls.
“But I like to bring kids back to my hometown to give the kids a taste of wrestling in different parts of the state. And it’s good to be back in District 10, where I’m from, to see some of the coaches and wrestlers that I wrestled against, and see some fans of mine from the past. It’s a great atmosphere for my wrestlers and myself.”
Picking up championships for Boiling Springs was junior 132-pounder Kyle Shoop, who blanked Saegertown’s Tyler Vath 5-0; and senior 220-pounder Kyle Taylor, who defeated McGuffey’s Ryan Steinstraw 5-1 in the final bout.
“Taylor at 220 surprised me,” said Wright. “He’s a true 195 pounder, but he wrestled up for us and he went out with his hand raised and at the top of the podium.”
Not everything came together for the Bubblers, however. The team had two defending champions knocked off yesterday. At 120, two-time champion Korbin Myers was bested by Cathedral Prep’s Jake Gromacki 4-2 in overtime. And at 126, 2013 champ Grant Bond was upended by DuBois’ Shae Bloom 5-2.
The Bubblers did, however, have a fantastic showing in the wrestlebacks, winning all six of the consolation finals they made it into.
Winning third-place matches were John Vaughn (145), Connor Murphy (170) and Nate Gouhin (182); while taking fifth-place medals were Travis Wickard (160) and Noah Davis (285).
“That’s what wins tournaments — the consolation rounds,” said Wright. “A lot of folks think you’ve got to have all these guys in the finals. But that’s not necessarily the case. The kids down below were battling through and giving us a lot of points.”