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Crebs dominates anticipated matchup, helps Warriors take 2nd

DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Cael Crebs of Montoursville and Wes Barnes of Southern Columbia try to gain position near the edge of the mat during their match at 189 pounds Saturday night at Williamsport High School.

Cael Crebs was content to let Wes Barnes stay on one knee. The Montoursville’s senior wasn’t going to chase Southern Columbia’s sophomore in a position Barnes wanted to work out of.

So Crebs waited. The top-ranked 189-pounder stalked Barnes and waited for moments he could pounce. And when the opening came, Crebs struck quick like a rattlesnake.

In an anticipated final between Crebs and third-ranked Barnes, Crebs was in control for all six minutes. His 5-0 win might as well have been 15-0 because he wasn’t going to get out of position and give Barnes a chance to get to his offense.

Crebs was one of three Montoursville wrestlers to win titles at the District 4 Class AA tournament Saturday, leading the Warriors to a second-place finish in the team standings. Montoursville advanced four wrestlers to next week’s Northeast Regional tournament, and all four finished either first or second Saturday. The Warriors’ 106 1/2 points were second to only Southern Columbia’s 168 1/2 points.

Crebs spoke of the win rather matter-of-factly following his second consecutive district championship. He was expecting to win. The way he won Saturday may not have been exactly what he had in mind, but it was a win nonetheless.

“I think it’s more of a confidence-builder for me that I am where I should be right now,” said Crebs, a returning state third-place finisher. “It was definitely frustrating trying to push the pace and him not responding and getting to the edge. But I’ll work for next week and fix it.”

When Barnes dropped to his tripod position, Crebs was content to let him sit there. He knew Barnes wasn’t going to be able to score from that position.

So he stayed within his own gameplan. Even though he couldn’t get the pace going he wanted, it was an effective gameplan. Barnes didn’t come close to recording a takedown. He couldn’t knock Crebs of his spot and never took a shot and instead favored snaps to try and get Crebs out of position.

It just never amounted to anything. Crebs stayed true to his plan to stay in position. He came out the back door quickly on a third-period shot to push the lead to 5-0 and seal the victory.

“That first takedown establishes dominance in the match and lets them know they have to come after you,” Crebs said. “There’s not a lot he’s going to do (in the tripod) unless I come out of position. So I try to stalk there and keep my hand on his head. I think I’m comfortable there”

Crebs built some confidence toward the end of January when he made a run to a third-place finish at the Powerade tournament. The third-place finish wasn’t what he particularly had in mind, but after losing in the Round of 16 to eventual runner-up Caden Rogers, six consecutive consolation wins to take third place. Along the way, he beat wrestlers ranked second, fourth and fifth in the state.

It was a learning experience for Crebs, but it also showed him the level at which he was wrestling. He carried that confidence he earned over to the district tournament where he beat returning state qualifier Derek Atherton-Ely of Canton with a fall, and state qualifier Jacob Feese of Line Mountain, 12-3, before beating Barnes.

“I definitely took some things home from the Powerade, both good and bad,” Crebs said. “Nobody likes to lose. Nobody wants to take third. I had some things I had to fix on my feet and some bottom stuff. I’ve been working on those.”

Wentzel faced his biggest challenge of the postseason in Jersey Shore’s Brock Weiss, who entered with just one loss this season. The two traded escapes in the second and third periods before Wentzel, a returning state champion, recorded a takedown circling after a double-leg shot in overtime to win, 3-1.

Wentzel took the win in stride. He knows an overtime victory against the ninth-ranked Weiss may not look impressive in the box score, but he also knows he’s going to get the best shot from every wrestler he faces, especially a freshman looking to prove himself.

“This is the postseason. You’re here to win and move on to next week,” Wentzel said. “If I got back and fix the things I need to work on, maybe it’ll be a little different next week. But I’m here to have fun and wrestle. I need to work on controlling the pace and tie-ups, but other than that I feel like I wrestled pretty good.”

Bennett joined some elite company with his dominant 215-pound championship. He joined Luke Frey as the only wrestlers in school history to win four District 4 titles. It’s never something Bennett set as a goal, but after winning titles as a freshman and sophomore he began to think it might be possible.

The senior returning state runner-up was hardly challenged Saturday. He needed just 1:21 for a fall in the quarterfinals and another 3:58 for a fall in the semifinals. Against Benton’s 11th-ranked Zach Poust in the final, Bennett was punishing. He scored the fall with just six seconds to go in the first period.

Only he and Montgomery’s Conner Harer recorded falls in the finals Saturday.

“I wanted to get a quick takedown and get on top,” Bennett said. “It’s where I feel best and most confident. So after I got that, I felt pretty comfortable.”

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