Montoursville’s Crebs rested injury to be ready for postseason

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Montoursville’s Gable Crebs, top, works against Central Columbia’s Isaac Gensemer during the District 4 Central Sectional 160-pound championship on Saturday at Hughesville High School.

HUGHESVILLE — The last thing Gable Crebs wanted to do was miss the District 4 Duals tournament. He was a big part of the reason Montoursville had just one loss in the regular season and was the No. 2 seed in the tournament.

But with a gimpy ankle, he and his coaches knew his focus should be more on the individual postseason. Crebs wrestled in just one of the Warriors’ three matches at the team tournament, but it allowed the junior 160-pounder to be as close to 100 percent as possible for last weekend’s District 4 Central Sectional tournament.

And boy, did he look like the 100 percent version of himself. Crebs won both his bouts with bonus-point wins, including a fall in the final to pick up his first career sectional championship.

“That was really hard, but my coaches said the postseason is way more important,” said Crebs, who improved to 69-32 in his career with the tournament win. “It was a tough decision, but they sat me down and we had a good talk about it.”

Even in the moment two weeks ago, Crebs could see the logic behind head coach Jamie Yonkin’s decision. Yonkin decided he would use Crebs only if it was necessary to try and win a match, and he wasn’t going to put him on the mat against some of the district’s best 160-pounders to avoid injuring the ankle further.

Crebs’ only appearance at district duals was in the consolation semifinals against Line Mountain where he recorded a fall in 2 minutes, 17 seconds against Chance Hackenberg, a wrestler who was just 10-15 in the regular season. Montoursville lost the elimination match, 36-33. But he knew there was more wrestling to come in his season, and with the kind of success he had through the first two months, he didn’t want to jeopardize his opportunity to extend his postseason as long as possible.

So with the extra time to rest, Crebs looked as dominant Saturday at Hughesville High School as he has all season. He’s now 28-4 this season and 21 of his 28 wins have come by fall. Those other seven bouts include a decision win over Muncy’s state-ranked Noah Gush, major decisions against Williamsport’s Torren Potts and Muncy’s Gavyn Eisenhower, a decision against Connellsville’s Casper Hinklie at the Powerade, and three forfeits.

All of this has come from a wrestler who went 20-13 a year ago and went 2-2 at the district tournament, and was 21-15 as a freshman and didn’t escape the sectional tournament. Crebs is not only bigger and stronger this year, he’s more confident each time he steps on the mat. He trust his preparation and is able to just let it fly each time he wrestles.

“I definitely feel a lot stronger,” Crebs said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence this year. Practicing with Gavin (Hoffman), that’s a good partner to be with and you get a lot out of that.”

Hoffman has been a key factor for a number of upperweight wrestlers in the Warriors’ lineup. The two-time state champion who is ranked No. 1 in the country at 195 pounds has spent extensive time working with Cameron Wood at 220 and Crebs to help them take their game to a new level.

Both have done just that. Wood is state-ranked and was the runner-up to Muncy’s Hunter Poust at sectionals. Crebs is on a 19-match winning streak and is one of the big reasons why the 160-pound bracket at the Class AA District 4 tournament this week is one of the most brutal in the entire tournament.

It’s a weight which features returning state champion Creighton Edsell of Wyalusing, returning state seventh-place finisher Jacob Carpenter of Shamokin, and returning state qualifiers Cal Haladay of Southern Columbia, Tyler Stoltzfus of Mifflinburg and Nate Bradley of Athens. All five of those wrestlers are ranked in the top 13 in the state, with Crebs coming in at No. 25, according to papowerwrestling.com.

Crebs doesn’t feel any trepidation about his place in the bracket. He understands he’s part of the reason it is one of the one or two toughest weight classes at this week’s district tournament. He enters as the third seed and is on the same side of the bracket as both Carpenter and Haladay.

Of that stellar group of wrestlers ranked ahead of him, Stoltzfus is the only one Crebs has competed against this year, losing to him in the finals of the season-opening Top Hat and in a dual meet in early January. But in both matches, Crebs recorded the first takedown. And in the second one, he was tied with Stoltzfus going into the third period before a set of back points handed him the loss.

Those two matches are plenty of evidence for Crebs that he’s more than capable of competing in the weight. He’s carrying with him a confidence which is unwavering on a ankle he now doesn’t have worry about in the slightest after his extended break before the postseason.

He was confident enough to stay at 160 pounds for the postseason even though he knew they could be a less difficult road to hoe if he moved to another weight class. The key, he said, is the age old cliche of wrestling the match which is in front of him and not looking ahead.

“I have to wrestle each match not knowing who is out there in front of me,” Crebs said. “Stoltzfus beat Haladay really close (Saturday), so I think all of us are going to be really close.”

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