'Ready to compete': Bishop McCort squad leads crop of 16 boys wrestlers contending for PIAA medals

Mar. 7—Bishop McCort Catholic's wrestling team will account for nine of the 16 area athletes competing over the next three days inside Giant Center in Hershey.

The Crimson Crushers have their eyes set on the Class 2A team title after setting Southwest Regional records with 237.5 points and six champions and tying the mark for state qualifiers with nine Saturday.

For Bishop McCort senior 133-pounder Mason Gibson, the tournament serves as a bit of redemption after he lost in the 2021 final and could not compete during the Crimson Crushers' two-year postseason ban. Despite the perceived increase in urgency, the Penn State signee is approaching it with a mellow attitude.

"I'm kind of just approaching it like any other tournament, one match at a time," Gibson said. "Don't overlook anybody.

"Everybody is going there for a state title. I'm just going to go in every match with the mindset to score points. Freshman year ended with a loss. Let's end this one with a win."

Bishop McCort finished in second place at the PIAA dual tournament behind Faith Christian Academy on Feb. 3.

Possessing experience wrestling inside Giant Center will calm the nerves of some of the Crimson Crushers this time around.

"Ever since I was a little kid, I've been going down to watch it," said Bishop McCort junior 160-pounder Devon Magro.

"Visualizing me someday in that same position. I was nervous going into team states just because it was my first time wrestling in that arena. Now that I've wrestled there, I'm ready to compete down there for sure."

Gibson; Magro; sophomores Bo Bassett (139), Jackson Butler (145) and Lincoln Sledzianowski (121); and freshman Melvin Miller (152) each earned regional gold. Senior Jordan Butler (215) and sophomores Jax Forrest (127) and Owen McMullen (172) also advanced to Hershey.

Gibson (44-5) is set to face the winner of Montoursville junior Blaize Vogel (41-11) or Wilson Area senior David M'Balla (27-12) in the first round.

His 2021 loss in the PIAA final has driven Gibson, ranked 16th in the country at his weight by FloWrestling, to put himself in position for another chance at a state title.

"Ever since that day, it's always been in the back of my head — at practice, at school, when I'm going to bed or waking up," Gibson said. "It's one of those thoughts that always keeps me going to motivate me."

With a record of 51-5, Magro awaits the victor between Honesdale junior Mason Avery (37-7) and Lehighton junior Jacob Ferguson (32-13).

"I go out there and I wrestle my match every time," said Magro, a Brown University commit and No. 2-ranked wrestler in the state. "I don't care who it is. It could be the best guy in the country. I'm wrestling how I was going to wrestle. I really don't watch film. I'm aware of what they're going to do, but it's not going to change my game plan going out."

Bassett (52-0) faces the winner of Bishop McDevitt sophomore Easton Comp (37-12) or Elizabeth Forward freshman Lucas Boyer (39-11) in the first round. Bassett, ranked No. 2 in the country at his weight, has 30 technical falls and 16 pins this season.

Lancaster Catholic senior Gavin Badger (38-7) and Mount Pleasant senior Jamison Poklembo (37-7) battle for the right to face Jackson Butler (26-7) in the first round.

Sledzianowski (44-7) battles the winner of either Berks Catholic junior Brayden Hartranft (37-9) or McGuffey sophomore Emmett Wolfe (36-11) in the first round.

Miller (53-3) will face the winner of either Western Wayne senior Tyler Barletta (35-10) or Biglerville senior Joey Ney (38-6). Miller is No. 2 in the state.

Jordan Butler (33-15) meets Scranton Prep junior Louis Paris (34-10) in a preliminary match with the victor to take on Southeast champ Jason Singer, a 37-9 sophomore from Faith Christian Academy.

After losing 13-7 to Bentworth senior and Edinboro recruit Chris Vargo in the regional final, Forrest (49-2) is looking to rebound against Cranberry junior Elijah Brosius (36-10). Forrest is the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the country at 127 by FloWrestling.

"A different Jax has been unleashed, I think," Gibson said. "Expect dominance from him this weekend. With him having a dominant mindset right now, it's kind of motivating everybody. Right now, we're all just pushing each other for that state title right now."

McMullen (47-10) faces Notre Dame-Green Pond junior Keegan Ramsay (30-11) in the first round.

Chestnut Ridge sophomore Dominic Deputy (107) earned his second Southwest Regional title. He earned PIAA silver in 2023 and is 46-0 this season. Deputy, ranked No. 2 in the country and state at his weight, awaits the winner of Halifax freshman Izaya Schickley (33-10) or Harbor Creek sophomore Hunter Chew (33-11) in the first round.

Lions junior Easton Mull finished as regional runner-up at 114. Mull (43-11) will face North East sophomore Rocky Kowle (33-12) in his first match.

Penn Cambria senior Trent Hoover lost to Miller for the third time this season in the 152 regional final. Hoover is 40-5 this season and will meet Line Mountain sophomore Dalton Schadel (40-14) Thursday.

United has two qualifiers in junior Gideon Bracken (127) and sophomore Josef Garshnick (121). Bracken (34-10) battles Notre Dame-Green Pond junior Tanner Berkenstock (23-16) in a preliminary match with the winner to meet Northeast champ David Kennedy, a 42-5 junior from Montoursville. Garshnick (38-5) faces Faith Christian Academy junior Gauge Botero (26-2).

Somerset junior Rowan Holmes (39-2) is slated to face General McLane senior Ryan Dedrick (37-8) in the 215 first round. Holmes earned a 2023 PIAA fourth-place finish. Holmes is ranked third in the state.

Westmont Hilltop junior Jonah McCoy (285, 36-12) battles Greenville senior Joey Peterson (26-9) in a preliminary bout. The winner faces Southeast champion Brody Kline, a Berks Catholic senior with a 25-5 mark.

Jake Oswalt is a copy editor for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @TheWizOfOz11.