There were several young wrestlers making a name for themselves during The Surge on Sunday.
None of them had as close of a tie to the area where the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown is like Erik Gibson.
Gibson goes to Forest Hills, which is only 7.7 miles away from Pitt-Johnstown’s campus.
The freshman may have made a case to start for the Rangers’ varsity team by winning the 145-pound title as the 12th seed.
“It means a lot. It was a lot of hard work,” Gibson said of winning the title. “I’ve busted my butt for a while now and it’s paying off.”
He almost didn’t even make it to the quarterfinals and it was a teachable moment too.
Gibson opened the tournament against the No. 5 seed in Owen J. Roberts’ Cole Meredith. Meredith is a regional and state qualifier compared to Gibson’s Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling title.
Gibson snuck by with a 6-5 win.
“Don’t stop wrestling,” Gibson said of what he learned from the title run. “I almost lost my first match. I was winning 4-1 and I stopped. I ended up coming back.”
In the quarterfinals, Gibson took on the No. 4 seed in Neshaminy’s Jackson Erb, who was also a regional and state qualifier. The young wrestler advanced with a 4-2 win to face Carlisle’s Colton Zimmerman.
Zimmerman upset the top seed in Freedom’s Trent Schultheis 11-3. Gibson cruised to a 7-1 victory. In the finals, Gibson’s takedown was just enough to dispatch No. 2 seed in Saegertown’s Kenny Kiser, who is a two-time state qualifier, 3-1.
“I’m excited,” Gibson said for the prospects of the upcoming year. “Hopefully, I can win states, that’s my goal.”
Follow Nate Cobler on Twitter all winter long for wrestling updates