Before I get to the accomplishments through perseverance by some of our area athletes, I think it’s most important to give a tip of my Webb Weekly hat with the American Flag on the side to Dr. Robert Lombardi, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Dr. Lombardi went to the mat for all Pennsylvania athletes. Without his leadership and guidance, there would have been no winter sports — or fall sports, for that matter. Just look no further than the states adjacent to us and how the governors shut down all that is high school athletics. What is the difference between Pennsylvania and those states? Great character people from the top down who understand the importance of athletics to help develop gentleman and ladies. A season lost can never be recovered.
Dr. Lombardi, along with his board of directors, went knuckles up to make sure our young people had the opportunity to be with their teammates, best friends, and coaches. To have the chance to put on a school uniform and compete. This time ends for almost all at graduation.
Most importantly, the competition of PIAA events allows young folks to celebrate life and not be conquered by fear. This provides another life lesson — the necessity to be able to change and adapt on the fly. To try a new approach and do whatever is asked to achieve a common goal. The “new goal” just being able to play.
In our little neck of Penns Woods known as the PIAA District IV, we have been blessed with so many good people working together to make sure the games, matches, and meets played on. From the school administration, athletic directors, coaches, training staff to the custodial staff that made sure everything was taken care of for competition, including sanitizing the wrestling mats. It was truly a team effort made by all.
A special tip of the cap to District IV overseer of athletics and Shamokin Area Superintendent, Chris Venna. He wears multiple hats and gives a 110% effort, and to D4 committee member as baseball chair, Mr. Sean McCann. The Williamsport Millionaire AD did an amazing job of managing over District IV championship competition in wrestling, swimming, diving, and boys’ and girls’ basketball. Williamsport’s Magic Dome and pool provided the perfect venue. Mr. McCann was the busiest guy in Billtown for a couple of weeks.
Now, let’s celebrate the accomplishments of our area wrestlers—a Webb Weekly salute to Montoursville senior Cael Crebs. Cael won state AA gold at 189 pounds. He then was selected to participate in the prestigious Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic.
Most impressive is Cael’s commitment to hard work both in the classroom and on the mat. The young gentleman will continue his education, wrestle, and serve our Nation at the United States Naval Academy.
Dylan Bennett of Montoursville was runner up at 215 pounds. He had an outstanding career and was a two-time state finalist. He was outstanding on the gridiron and will continue his education and football career at the University of Pittsburgh.
Warrior sophomore Branden Wentzel finished 3rd at 106 pounds. The young Warrior has already won a state championship.
These talented Warriors led Montoursville to a runner-up team finish at Hershey.
Muncy’s Scott Johnson won the silver at 126 pounds. The Indian wrestler is only a sophomore.
Another super sophomore is Williamsport’s Cael Nasdeo, who finished runner up at 106, competing at the 3A level. That Cael name has become pretty popular. I’ll tell you why a little later.
Sullivan County’s Nate Higley finished runner up at 145 pounds. Nate had an amazing career for the Griffins. He was a 3-time state medalist and is the only Sullivan County wrestler to have ever won a state medal. Nate will continue his education and wrestle at George Mason University.
Montgomery junior Devon Deem placed 4th place in the 152 lb. weight class. His Red Raider teammate, freshman Connor Harer placed 5th at 138.
Central Mountain’s Luke Simcox, also a freshman, took home a 5th place medal competing in the 3A Tournament. Luke, another of our area’s very talented underclassmen, wrestled at 126.
Millionaire junior Riley Bower also brought home some hardware. He competed at 145 and finished 6th.
Last, but definitely not least, another young man with a bright future — South Williamsport sophomore Bobby Gardner. Bobby placed 6th for the Mounties at 113.
Congratulations to all our area wrestlers for a season well done. Wrestling is the most physically demanding sport requiring the greatest commitment of mind and body. This season was even more challenging for the competitors.
One final note, it’s great to see so many wrestling families have chosen the name Cael. For those wondering why? My guess is, look no further than Penn State Head Coach Cael Sanderson. Wrestler Cael was simply the best collegiate grappler ever to compete. During his Iowa State career, he won four National Titles and never lost a match. (159-0) He then added an Olympic gold medal to his resume.
Coach Sanderson has won 8 NCAA titles in 9 years at Happy Valley. I believe until all is said and done, he will track down legendary Iowa Coach Dan Gable and be recognized as the best college wrestling coach ever.
Now You know the rest of the wrestling story and why Cael has become so popular in the Keystone State.
God Bless America.