Bishop McCort Catholic wrestlers shine at True Power event

·5 min read

Oct. 3—TYRONE, Pa. — At times Saturday night, the True Power wrestling event felt like a Bishop McCort Catholic home match.

Coach Bill Bassett's athletes went 3-1 at the dual meet, which was presented by PA Power Wrestling at the Tyrone Armory, much to the delight of the large group of McCort supporters.

"To have them all here cheering for us, we're a family, so it was really nice to have them here," said senior Erik Gibson, who joined eighth-graders Bo Bassett and Sam Herring in getting his hand raised. "I'm very appreciative to them for coming out and spending time with us."

Competing at 160 pounds, the two-time state medalist scored a 13-5 major decision over Boiling Springs' Michael Duggan, who was a bronze medalist in Class 2A last season.

It was the first folkstyle match in nine months for Gibson, who was ineligible for the postseason as a junior after transferring from Forest Hills to Bishop McCort.

Gibson scored a takedown in the first period and was close to another as time expired. An escape and nice double-leg takedown extended his lead to 5-1 in the second period. Three third-period takedowns and a set of nearfall points helped the Cornell recruit get the major decision against a wrestler he might see again in Hershey next spring.

"I think it could be me and Michael in the state finals," Gibson said before noting that Jackson Arrington, a two-time state champion and North Carolina State recruit who was his teammate at Forest Hills, could change that outlook. "Arrington might go up from (152 pounds). You never know. If he goes up from '52, I'm looking forward to that match."

Herring was looking forward to his opportunity on Saturday night. A six-time state champion in Tennessee, Herring and his family moved to Pennsylvania because of its wrestling reputation and the close network of friends and teammates that he found in Cambria County.

The eighth-grader has said that he wants the Keystone State to take notice of him, and he made that happen on Saturday night with a 5-3 victory over Williamsport's Cael Nasdeo, a junior who finished second at 106 pounds in PIAA Class 3A in March.

"I've been here for a while now, but haven't been able to compete as much," said Herring, who missed the 2020 postseason to the pandemic and this year's due to injury. "It's not that I want Pennsylvania to know who I am. I want Pennsylvania to enjoy being a fan of me. You've got five more years of this plus college. I want to be a Pennsylvania boy. I want to be the guy that the dads and the coaches and the fans can look at in college and in the Olympics and say, 'Yeah, he's from Pennsylvania,' and be fans of me."

Herring scored a double-leg takedown 26 seconds into the 117-pound match. Nasdeo escaped 30 seconds later and rode Herring for the first half of the second period. A restart gave Herring a chance to get moving, and he quickly reversed Nasdeo for a 4-1 lead. The Williamsport wrestler reversed Herring quickly in the third and, after being unable to turn him, released him in search of a tying takedown, but Herring successfully defended his neutral position.

"I don't think my style, my effort tonight was what I was hoping for," Herring said, "but eventually I'll get my pace up. I'll get some attacks, and I think I'll be fun to watch."

Bo Bassett proved fun to watch for much of the nation this summer, as he dominated the competition on his way to a Cadet world freestyle title in Budapest, Hungary. He took the same style, what he calls a machine gun mindset, into Saturday night's penultimate match against Montgomery's Brandt Harer, who like Bassett is an accomplished junior wrestler now in eighth grade.

Harer, a four-time state champion, scored the opening takedown, but Bassett's pace wore him down in a 24-13 victory.

The match was tied at 6 after one period, but Bassett put up 14 points during a second in which Harer took a lengthy injury timeout. Harer was able to ride Bassett for some of the third period, and even picked up a pair of backpoints in a scramble, but the world champ tacked on four more points for the lopsided victory.

"He's a four-timer," said Bassett, who has seven titles and has prevented Harer from adding to his own collection. "I knew he was going to be tough competition. Brandt's a great opponent. I wanted to put up 20-plus. That's my goal in every match. I didn't come out with a tech or pin, but I definitely feel good about the amount of points that I scored."

Another Bishop McCort eighth-grader, Tommy Verrette, was a late addition to the card and faced a tough opponent in Athens senior Gavin Bradley, a state runner-up in March. Wrestling at 122 pounds, Verrette had a height advantage, but Bradley was much stockier. The McCort wrestler hung with Bradley during a scoreless first period, but Bradley turned him with a Turk in the second period and held him there for nearly a minute. Trailing 3-0 to start the third, Verrette tried to push the pace, but played right into Bradley's hands, and the senior went on to a 12-3 major decision.

"Tommy is so good," Bill Bassett said. "We knew going into it that he was going to be undersized. Bradley's a senior and Tommy's an eighth-grader, but we knew it was a no-lose situation for Tommy. I think he battled."

Despite the setback, the Bishop McCort coach was pleased with his wrestlers.

"It was an amazing night," he said. "Obviously, we came here to go 4-0, but 3-1 is great at an event like this. ... We knew that — win, lose or draw — we were going to come in here and show everyone that Bishop McCort is going to be around for a while."

The event featured 17 boys' matches and nine girls' bouts. Chestnut Ridge's Patron Plummer wrestled on the girls' card, but lost by technical fall to Northern Bedford County's Jordyn Foust at 138 pounds.

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