Regional wrestling

Mason Gibson of Bishop McCort defeats Tyrone’s Hunter Walk by technical fall 25-9 in 4:35 for the 120-pound championship at the Southwest Regional tournament at IUP on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Mason Gibson never lacks for confidence, so it should be no surprise that the Bishop McCort Catholic standout wasn’t worried when he found himself a point away from losing by technical fall in the U.S. Marine Corps 16U National Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships.

Gibson, a PIAA runner-up as a freshman, kept his composure and reeled off 12 straight points in beating Kamdyn Williams for the 126-pound title on Thursday in Fargo, North Dakota.

“Honestly, nothing changed,” said Gibson, who became the area’s first Fargo national champion since Nick Roberts in 2009. “I knew I was going to break him. I saw him in previous matches. He’d break so easily, like in Greco states. I knew if I pushed that pace, he was going to break, and I’d get the win.”

Williams, who was a favorite to win a PIAA title in Class 3A at 113 pounds but didn’t make weight for the state tournament, went ahead 1-0 on Gibson thanks to a passivity call.

That also put Gibson into the parterre position, and Williams capitalized with a pair of gutwrench turns for a 5-0 lead.

Gibson went for a headlock, but Williams countered for four points and a 9-0 lead.

That’s when Gibson went to work. He scored an arm spin takedown, then turned Williams with a gutwrench to make it 9-4 at the break.

Gibson earned a stepout point in the second and a failed challenge by Williams made it 9-6. Another arm spin brought Gibson with a point.

Williams had a big height advantage, but Gibson said that worked in his favor.

“Those arm spins, I got under him a lot easier,” he said.

“But he couldn’t handle my strength.”

It looked like Gibson was in a position to throw Williams, but the Manheim Township wrestler blocked the move with his leg, which is illegal in Greco-Roman wrestling and resulted in two points for Gibson. A second leg foul gave the victory to Gibson, who was surprised to see the match end so quickly.

“I had no idea I won. They were like, ‘Shake hands,’ ” Gibson said. “I didn’t even know they called a second leg foul on him.”

Gibson survived close matches in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. He beat California’s Daniel Zepeda 4-4 on criteria in a match that saw Gibson score four points early on a headlock and then hold on for the victory.

He beat New York’s Aliaksandr Kikiniou 3-3 on criteria in the quarterfinal.

Gibson placed third in freestyle earlier in the week, but the Greco-Roman title won’t make up for the pain of falling short of winning a second large octagon-shaped award.

“Nothing’s going to make up for that,” he said. “I definitely wanted that freestyle top sign, but that’s going to fuel my fire for the rest of the tournaments this year.”

Pennsylvania captured the team title with 197 points, easily outdistancing second-place Minnesota, which had 128. The Keystone State also captured the team title in freestyle.

“That’s amazing,” Gibson said.

“That’s a three-peat for freestyle. Winning freestyle and Greco, that was pretty cool. That shows what Pa. is all about.”

Two other local wrestlers won All-American honors in Greco-Roman. United’s Josef Garshnick went 3-3 and placed sixth at 94 pounds.

Sam Herring, a freestyle runner-up, was a double All-American after placing eighth in Greco-Roman at 113 pounds.

Bishop McCort’s Devon Magro went 3-2 at 126 pounds.

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