Wrestling

Division I college wrestling coaches flocking to Johnstown

Division I college wrestling coaches flocking to Johnstown

Some of the biggest names in college wrestling will be in Johnstown this week as local wrestlers prepare to compete for national and world titles.

Ohio State coach Tom Ryan, who led the Buckeyes to the 2015 NCAA title, will be at The Compound in Richland Township on Wednesday, as will Rutgers coach Scott Goodale. Mike Grey, who was recently named the head coach at Cornell, kicks the series off with a clinic on Tuesday, while Pitt’s Keith Gavin will wrap it up on Thursday.

Ranger Pride Wrestling’s Bill Bassett lined up the clinics to prepare his wrestlers for freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions. The clinics are open to serious wrestlers at $15 per session. Interested parties can contact Bassett at 814-242-9798.

Bassett’s son Bo is gearing up for the Cadet World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, later this month, where he will be seeking titles in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. Meanwhile, RPW’s Jackson Butler, Erik Gibson, Mason Gibson, Sam Herring, Devon Magro, Owen McMullen, Melvin Miller and Luke Sipes are preparing for the U.S. Marine Corps Junior & 16-Under National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.

Wrestlers from more than a half-dozen states, including Alabama, Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio, are in town this weekend to work out with the RPW and Young Guns grapplers.

Having that kind of talent come to the region, in addition to the local wrestlers who have been gaining national attention, attracted the interests of college coaches. While those coaches aren’t yet able to recruit most of the wrestlers, they can begin getting to know them at clinics and camps.

“It’s about building relationships with colleges and college coaches,” Bill Bassett said.

Erik Gibson has already committed to wrestle at Cornell, although Grey was not the head coach when he did so. In May, Rob Koll left to take over the Stanford program after 28 years as head coach of the Big Red.

Mason Gibson, who finished second in the PIAA as a freshman last season, is ranked as the top recruit in the nation for the Class of 2024, according to MatScouts. Sipes is ranked as the No. 32 prospect among incoming high school freshmen while Magro is No. 49.

The Class of 2026 includes even more high-profile wrestlers in the Johnstown area, with Bo Bassett leading the way. If that group continues on its course, the Flood City will be a regular stop on the recruiting trail for college coaches from across the country.

“I think it’s something that we knew could happen with all of the hard work and dedication that these kids put in,” Bill Bassett said.

Cornell’s Grey has assisted in the development of nine NCAA champions and 31 All-Americans. His alma mater finished in the NCAA’s top 10 during each of his eight seasons as an assistant. He was a two-time All-American for the Big Red.

Ohio State’s Ryan has twice been named the NCAA’s coach of the year. In addition to the 2015 national championship, his Buckeyes have been runners-up in ’08, ’09, ’17, ’18 and ’19. He has coached six different NCAA champions, including four-time winner Logan Stieber and three-time champ Kyle Snyder.

Goodale has helped Rutgers develop into one of the top programs in the country. His 183 dual-meet victories are the most in school history, and he mentored Anthony Ashnault and Nick Suriano, who are the only Scarlet Knights to capture an NCAA title.

Gavin will enter his fifth season as head coach of the Panthers on a high note. Two of his wrestlers – 165-pounder Jake Wentzel and 197-pounder Nino Bonnacorsi – reached the NCAA finals in March, and that seems to have helped in Pitt’s recruiting efforts.

Gavin, who has Chestnut Ridge grad Jared McGill and Richland alumnus Cooper Warshel on his roster, won the 2008 NCAA title at 174 pounds while wrestling for the Panthers.

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