G rant Gebo bounded across the mat like a little kid who had won his first wrestling match.
Unlike the other three Whitehall wrestlers who claimed individual titles at Saturday Section II Class D championships in the Railroaders’ gym, Gebo exulted at the end, celebrating after he pinned Salem’s Josh McKittrick midway through their 285-pound bout.
Sophomore Al Aubin (112), sophomore John Diekel (119) and junior Zach Diekel (189) were all business-like after their championship bout victories, while Gebo, the team’s only senior, raced to his dad and proceeded to pick him up.
Gebo’s excitement was understandable, because the victory ended both several weeks and three previous seasons of frustration.
In the previous three years, Gebo made it to the Class D final, only to lose the championship bout. For better part of the last month, while his teammates were wrestling and preparing for the tournament, he was sidelined with a knee injury.
“It’s cool to win it your senior year in your home gym,” Gebo said. “I kind of left it in God’s hands. I relied on him.”
The Railroaders won only three dual matches this season, regularly giving up as many as 36 points to forfeits, but Gebo leaves behind him a talented group of wrestlers.
“We worked hard all year,” said Gebo, who will join the team’s other champions this weekend at the Section II tournament at the Glens Falls Civic Center. “The kids didn’t give up. We’ve got good kids, and they just kept things going.”
Gebo started the day by pinning Warrensburg’s Tony Aurrichio in 4:41, then gutted out a tough 6-5 decision over Berne-Knox-Westerloo’s Jesse Montasano in the semifinals. It was clear in that bout that Gebo had missed the conditioning work over the last few weeks and will have to work even harder to be ready for this weekend’s tournament.
Zach Diekel certainly looked ready for a run at another Section II title, posting three straight, first-period pins in winning at 189.
His first pin was one of the fastest in school history, coming as he put Bernie-Knox-Westerloo’s Ted Wiederhold to the mat in seven seconds. His semifinal victory over
Salem’s Tom Wilson came in 1:07, and he pinned Duanesburg’s Jeff Senecal in 1:26 in the championship match.
“Every tournament counts,” Diekel said. “It’s not the ultimate goal, but it’s a needed step along the way.”
Like Gebo, Diekel is pleased with the way the Railroaders have come along this season. “I think everyone has gotten better,” he said. “I think it’s neat to see how far they have come.”
Diekel’s father, Paul, won the state title at 167 pounds in 1981.
Diekel’s cousin John was just as dominant at 119 pounds, including running up 15 quick points to take a technical fall over Scoharie’s Lucas Howland in 3:33 in the championship bout. Earlier in the day, Diekel pinned Duanesburg’s Tyler Nichols in 30 seconds and Warrensburg’s Nick Nedelcu in 32 seconds.
While Gebo and the two Diekels all had big victories in the finals, the fourth champion, 112-pounder Al Aubin used a takedown with 14 seconds remaining and held on for a 5-4 victory over Cameron Miliken of Albany Academy. Aubin had pinned his two previous opponents, Salem’s Daniel VanDyk in 3:16 and Schoharie’s Kyle Brown in 48 seconds. Aubin knew he was in for a tough battle in the final, because he had needed overtime for a 3-1 victory over Miliken a week earlier in the Big 10 tournament.
“I didn’t take anything for granted,” Aubin said. “I just had to do my stuff. I felt pretty confident during the day.”
John Diekel, whose father Bob is the Railroaders’ head coach, said he thoroughly enjoyed Aubin’s victory.
“I was more excited about Alfred winning than I was about me winning,” the 119-pounder said. “He had a better match than I did.”
Despite having only competitors in only nine of the 15 classes, the Railroaders tied Albany Academy with 124.5 points on the strength of their four first-place finishes.
The only other team with four titlists was champion Duanesburg, which finished with 208 points. Salem was second at 181.