Gebo, Hodsden wrestle to titles at invitational

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury junior Nathan Gebo and Vergennes junior Jeb Hodsden wrestled their way to titles at this past Tuesday’s 42nd annual Hubie Wagner Invitational at Middlebury Union High School.
Gebo pinned all five of his opponents in dominating the 113-pound weight class, while Hodsden recorded one pin, one major decision, and three tough wins in demanding tactical matches.
Also reaching a final was Otter Valley sophomore Tyson Cram, who lost a tight, 3-1 decision and settled for second.
VUHS edged MUHS for the best local team finish, scoring 97 points to finish sixth among the 16 teams. MUHS totaled 94 points to earn a seventh-place tie with the joint Bellows Falls-Hartford squad.
OV scored 22 points, all courtesy of Cram, to take 13th. Mount Abe, led by junior Josh Johnson’s fourth-place effort at 170, took 15th with 20 points.
Shaker High School in Latham, N.Y., cruised to first place with 309.5 points by winning nine weight classes — Gebo was the only wrestler to defeat a Shaker grappler in a final. Essex (145); Cohoes, N.Y. (139); Mill River (132); and Granville, N.Y., rounded out the top five.
VUHS Coach Nate Kittredge saw almost all of his small contingent of wrestlers perform well, not just Hodsden. Results for other Vergennes-area wrestlers:
•  Sophomore Kyle Kingsley took third at 113, with a 3-2 record.
•  Junior Ethan Reardon went 3-2 at 132 with three pins and impressed observers even while losing — he fell behind, 7-0, in one match and spent the entire second period vs. Josh Pompey of Cohoes fighting off pins, and then nearly pulled it out in the third before losing, 7-4. OV assistant Cole Mason said Reardon showed a “lot of heart.”
•  Senior Luke Stinchfield went 3-2 with three pins at 138 pounds.
•  Junior Ryan Paquin took third at 182 with a 3-2 record and three pins, and was leading winner Andrew Peterson until the match’s final 10 seconds.
The Commodores were missing top sophomore wrestler Brandon Cousino because of an illness, and two other talented wrestlers had recently stopped attending practices. One of them, freshman Trevon Smith, returned to the team early last week, however, and Kittredge hopes he will stay with the program.
“We’re struggling, like a lot of teams, I guess, with numbers,” he said. “But the kids that are sticking it out, they’re in there every day, and they’re placing in the tournaments we’re wrestling in.”
Despite bringing just six or eight wrestlers to three tournaments so far, VUHS has placed well in each.
“These kids are all working to be on the podium every time they wrestle, and they’re all good enough to do it,” Kittredge said.
Gebo, the top seed at 113, steamrolled his five opponents. He  pinned his first four foes in the first two periods, and in the final took a 7-0 lead vs. second-seeded Robert Weidman of Shaker before pinning him at 1:38 of the third.
Gebo, who lost in the Hubie Wagner tournament finals as a freshman and sophomore, believes he laid the groundwork for his win this past summer.
“I did a little bit more offseason this year,” he said. “I didn’t do offseason my freshman year or my sophomore year, but I did it this season, and that really paid off.”
Gebo was doubly happy to win and get applause and high fives from teammates and coaches in his own gym.
“It was really important for team points, to try to get up there in the rankings,” Gebo said. “But it was more important because it was my hometown.”
Coach Ethan Raymond was happy to see Gebo’s hard work pay off.
“He’s done a lot of offseason with me,” he said. “Wrestling is all about time. Put it in, and it’s what you get out. And he’s put a lot of time in.”
The season has been more of a mixed bag for Raymond’s squad. He had expected 10 returners to fill 10 weight classes, but injuries to seniors Wyatt Laberge and Chris Gobbi and “kids deciding not to wrestle for whatever reason,” changed the strategy to developing a younger group of wrestlers, including eight freshmen who Raymond said are “ready to work hard” at every practice.
“We’re setting the stage for the future,” Raymond said. “My outlook is I don’t care about the outcome of the match. I just care about the effort and the technique.”
Raymond rated the tournament a success, with four other wrestlers earning top-four podium finishes and several others posting wins:
•  Freshman Ben Murray took fourth at 120 with a 3-2 record and two pins.
•  Freshman Dustin Davio was third at 126 with a 1-2 record and a pin.
•  Junior Kyle Desabrais went 1-2 at 132.
•  Junior James Whitley was third at 138 with a 3-2 record and two pins.
•  Freshman Robert Pike went 1-1 at 145 with a pin.
•  Junior Nick Beauchamp was fourth at 195 with a 2-3 record and two pins.
•  Senior Benn Lussier was 1-2 at 285 with a pin.
Mount Abe started the season with a half-dozen wrestlers in its program, but two decided to step away, leaving Coach Pete Lossman with three varsity wrestlers and on JV grappler.
All three on the varsity level have had their moments, but have not steadily racked up wins, Lossman said.
“It’s the basic things. We’re missing the little things in practice, and it shows up on the mat,” he said. “We’ve just got to put those little things back in play and it will come together.”
All three had some of those good moments last week at MUHS, each picking up a pin. Johnson went 2-2, winning once by forfeit and once with a 52-second pin.
Senior Josh Russin (1-2 at 138) picked up his first win of 2014 with a first-period pin, and just a couple minutes later sophomore Dylan Little (1-3 at 152) also earned a first-period pin to bring a smile to Lossman’s face.
Lossman particularly enjoyed seeing the positive results because the Eagles are working hard and showing good attitudes.
“It’s the closest thing we’ve had to a team in the past few years. They really work well together,” he said.
OV, too, is seeing a numbers problem. Coach Steven Mitchell had seen an uptick in his first couple seasons, but said several wrestlers for a variety of different reasons simply chose not to return.
But he is happy with the five he has, and the work of his assistants, Mason, a former Cornell College wrestler and assistant, and former OV standout Jesse Bilodeau.
“The kids that have stuck with it are doing great. There’s a high level of interest there,” Mitchell said. “In every practice they’re learning.”
Because of injuries, scheduling conflicts and a minor discipline issue, only Cram came to MUHS last week. His second-place finish at 132 followed his win at the St. Johnsbury tournament and a second-place finish in Granville.
“Tyson is a dominating wrestler,” Mitchell said. “He loves it.”
Also with the program is junior Nathan Doty, a returning state place-winner at 220; sophomore Greg Whitney, for whom Mitchell has high hopes at 195 after two injury-plagued seasons; junior Jared Felkl at 170; and freshman Dane Bartshe, who for now will wrestle at the JV level at 195.
Mitchell is hopeful the program numbers will bounce back. With no one due to graduate, he said there are eight wrestlers doing well in the OV middle school program, five of them who are now 8th-graders.
“Hopefully they’ll stick with it,” he said.
The winners were:
•  99: Lucas Saunders, BF-Hartford.
•  106: Anthony Mandigo, Shaker.
•  113: Gebo, MUHS.
•  120: Matt Spadoni, Shaker. Spadoni was voted the meet’s outstanding wrestler after defeating BF-Hartford standout Austin Viens in the final, a match that had Bellows Falls fans loudly pleading for stalling penalties on Spadoni.
•  126: Chris Pavelec, Shaker.
•  132: Jeremy Jarvis, Essex.
•  138: Jack Carney, Essex. Fair Haven’s Kaleb LaRock finishes second in this class.
•  145: Zach Allen, Mill River.
•  152: Hodsden, VUHS. Fair Haven’s Gabe Shaddock was fourth.
•  160: Ethan Hartlage, Shaker.
•  170: Andrew Horval, Shaker.
•  182: Andrew Peterson, Shaker.
•  195: Chris MacDonald, Shaker.
•  220: Jake Parker, Shaker.
•  285: Ryan Eustace, Shaker. 
MIDDLEBURY UNION HIGH School junior James Whitley wrestles Vergennes Union High School senior Luke Stinchfield during last week’s Hubie Wagner Invitational in Middlebury.   Independent photo/Trent Campbell

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