Nov. 17—Bishop McCort Catholic High School Principal Tom Smith opened a signing day ceremony with a fitting introduction of two student-athletes about to put pen to paper on Thursday afternoon.
"We have two Masons," Smith said. "What do masons do? They build foundations.
"They lay blocks to build foundations."
Mason Gibson and Mason Pfeil certainly helped their respective programs build foundations of success.
Gibson signed his letter of intent to wrestle at defending NCAA Division I national champion Penn State University in the Big Ten.
Pfeil signed to play baseball at Mansfield University in the NCAA Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
"This is a big day. One of my big goals is to go off to a good D1 school, the best wrestling program in the nation," said Gibson, who will join his older brother Erik, a redshirt freshman for the Nittany Lions, who have won 10 of the past 12 national team titles under coach Cael Sanderson. "That's what everybody wants.
"I'm very grateful that I have the family, coaches and teammates to help me get there. It was a big day, an awesome day. I'm just ready to get the season going and then get up there at Penn State and show them what's up."
Gibson will wrestle at 132 pounds this season at Bishop McCort Catholic and is projected as a 125- or 133-pounder at the collegiate level. He's eager to start his senior campaign and in the long-range is excited to reunite with Erik Gibson in State College.
"Keeping the family together is a big thing," Mason Gibson said. "We'll be teammates, partners up there and keep pushing each other."
Gibson was a 2021 PIAA runner-up.
He also won the 2021 Powerade championship and was outstanding wrestler as a 2022 Fargo National Champion.
He will have an opportunity to compete in the district and statewide postseason this year, as the PIAA's two-year postseason ban of the Crimson Crushers (2022, 2023) has concluded.
"It's amazing for Mason to be heading to one of the best wrestling programs in the country," Bishop McCort wrestling coach Bill Bassett said. "I am so proud of his hard work, dedication and consistency over the years. Dreams do come true and Mason is about to be living one of his."
In Thursday's introductions, Smith mentioned that Gibson's outgoing personality made him so popular after he transferred to Bishop McCort Catholic that he had the nickname "The Mayor."
On the mat, he's all business.
"Mason is a ball of energy and extremely explosive," Bassett said. "I feel Mason's physical strength and power is what makes him so tough to wrestle. Mason knows how to work extremely hard and that will pay dividends when he gets to college. I am so excited to see his development his senior year and then throughout college."
An honor-roll student, member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and MiniThon, Mason Gibson is the son of Johnny and Ashley Miller.
Mason Pfeil will be a four-year starter playing for his father and veteran area baseball coach Chris Pfeil. In three seasons, Mason Pfeil has a 17-7 record with five saves in 1422/3 innings on the mound. His career earned run average is an impressive 2.42 with 144 strikeouts and 67 walks.
"Mason has been a tremendous leader for our program," said Chris Pfeil, whose team won the 2022 District 6 title. "He's known McCort baseball since he was a little kid. He's watched a lot of great players and a lot of great teams come through.
"His dream and his goal was always to make it to the next level. It's very gratifying as a coach, but even a little more gratifying sometimes as a dad to see your son chase a dream and reach it."
When he was a youngster, Mason Pfeil often was seen in the dugout or in the Sargent's Stadium at the Point press box during Bishop McCort games. His father and mom, Sara, have nurtured a baseball family as Chris coached at Bishop McCort and managed in the Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League/AAABA Tournament for decades.
"Being Chris Pfeil's son, I've been around baseball my whole life," Mason Pfeil said. "I was in middle school, and he and I had a talk and he asked if I wanted to pursue this. I said, 'Yeah.' I put my head down and went to work.
"I owe it to all my coaches and teammates who helped me get to this point.
"Without them, I probably wouldn't be where I'm at today."
Mason Pfeil unexpectedly took on a prominent role in his freshman season and hasn't slowed down.
"His freshman year, we had an unfortunate injury to the ace on our staff and he was thrust into a role maybe a little bit greater than we anticipated," Chris Pfeil said.
"He went out and had a great year and it's built confidence in him.
"He's been blessed to be around some great coaches in this area, not only the coaches at McCort, but the coaches in the Flood City Elite program," Chris Pfeil added. "
"A lot of older guys who played at McCort over the years that took to him when he was younger and showed him tips, showed him a work ethic and it all came together."
Mason Pfeil, who had a 1.32 ERA as a junior at Bishop McCort Catholic, will complete his senior season and then play for Mansfield coach Andrew Chalot.
"He's done a great job recruiting in my class — a lot of guys that I know. Luke Raho from Richland (signed last week)," Mason Pfeil said. "He's a great guy and a great coach and I'm excited to play for him."
A National Honor Society student who will major in secondary education/social studies, Mason Pfeil will have another opportunity to play for another impactful coach — his father.
"It's a very special relationship that we have," Mason Pfeil said of the Crimson Crushers coach/dad. "He's so hard on me all the time, but it pays off in the long run having that. It's going to be a very emotional last year with him.
"It's going to be the last time playing with him, my brother (Grady) and all of my boys. There is one goal in mind this year for us and I'm not ready to fall short."
Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.