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Hughesville’s Gorg finally reaches final at Top Hat tourney

When it was Luke Gorg’s time to take his place on the podium, he casually climbed to the second-place spot. It may not seem like a monumental achievement for someone who has been to the start tournament three times already, but the Tom Best Memorial Top Hat Tournament has never been very kind to the Hughesville senior.

So this climb to the No. 2 spot at 145 pounds was an accomplishment in its own right, and one which could potentially set up the rest of Gorg’s season. He dropped an 11-3 major decision to Daniel Boone’s J.T. Hogan, a Class AAA South-Central Regional qualifier. But the result of that one singular bout didn’t so much matter. Just getting to the final was what Gorg needed more than anything.

His previous best finish at the Top Hat was a fourth-place finish as both a freshman and junior. His sophomore year ended with a disappointing eighth-place finish. And none of his previous trips have ever reached the tournament semifinals.

So that’s why he couldn’t be too upset with a second-place finish Saturday. He knows all too well how difficult the tournament can be.

“Every year after the Top Hat I haven’t felt very successful,” Gorg said. “The two fourths weren’t terrible, but second definitely feels a lot better. This is a lot better to work off of.”

Gorg can carry some confidence into the rest of his season instead of trying to crawl out of the hole he has faced in the past. He avenged last year’s loss to Williamsport’s Roman Morrone in the quarterfinals. He posted an impressive 9-0 win over Line Mountain regional qualifier Ian Coller.

It’s not as if his struggles in the Top Hat have limited Gorg’s production over the course of a season in the past. But the losses were sometimes shocking and left him having to re-establish himself with his volume of work over the remainder of the season.

He’s battled back from each season-opening disappointment to continue to be one of the most consistent winners in District 4. He’s finished third at the regional tournament three times and has competed in Hershey in the state tournament three times.

So what Gorg is hoping for from this strong opening tournament is a springboard into what could be a state medal-winning season. Because, frankly, that’s the only thing missing from Gorg’s high school resume. He’s already one of 15 wrestlers in school history to win 100 matches, and he’s just 27 wins shy of tying Kyle Barnes and Zach Fry for the school’s wins record.

But for as nice as those accomplishments are, Gorg wants a state medal.

“It’s going to be my last season, but I can’t psyche myself out. I just have to go out and show what I’ve got,” Gorg said. “My mindset is still the same. I’m just trying to score points and get wins.”

When Gorg is at his best, he’s fast-paced and relentless as an offensive wrestler. He showcased that with a technical fall win over Montoursville’s Emery Balint in the second round. He struggled to score points against Morrone, who eventually finished third, but still was in control for a 6-3 victory. And against a wrestler he may see again this year in Coller, he was superb.

He wants to set a good example for the young stable of talented wrestlers who have infiltrated the Hughesville roster this year. And part of that is wrestling to his potential on a nightly basis and take advantage of the opportunities like the one he had at the Top Hat.

“It’s definitely important to be a good role model,” Gorg said. “You want to try and set a good example to help the others succeed as well. I know I have to motivate them and yell for them and they’ll be there yelling for you.”

A QUICK RETURN

Cameron Wood knew he probably wouldn’t be in the best wrestling shape when he decided to compete at the Top Hat. The Montoursville senior was only two weeks removed from competing in the state football tournament before he toed the line over the weekend.

But he wanted to compete. And on the cusp of 100 career wins, he couldn’t think of a better place to get that milestone win than the Magic Dome. So he wrestled.

Turns out how good of shape he was in was never anything he had to worry about. Wood won all four of his matches with first-period falls to take home his second 220-pound Top Hat title. He earned the tournament’s award for the most number of falls in the least amount of time.

“I figured the only way to get in shape is to come here and wrestle,” the returning state fourth-place finisher said. “Nothing was going to help better than this. I was kind of excited to go out and wrestle.”

And in the process of winning his second Top Hat title – his first came as a sophomore – Wood picked up his 100th career victory when he defeated Clearfield regional qualifier Oliver Billotte with a fall in 1 minute, 38 seconds in the semifinals. He’s the 18th wrestler in Montoursville history with 100 career wins.

But for Wood, it was all about competing. He enjoys competing in anything. He’s likely to earn his second consecutive All-State nod later this month for how he competed as a defensive end for the Warriors. He’s hoping to end this season on the podium in Hershey once again, but his eyes are firmly cemented on the top spot. He and Southern Columbia’s Preston Zachman are the top returning 220-pounders in the state this season, and it’s not hard to envision a scenario where they meet in the finals in three consecutive weeks in the postseason, including the state tournament.

“I don’t want to push that away too much because that’s the goal for the season,” Wood said. “I have to treat every match like it’s a stepping stone to get to that. It’s all about working to that point.”

TEMPO TORTURE

Jacob Blair has looked back at pictures from the last time he competed during the high school season and he thinks about how much this new version of Jacob Blair would kick the butt of that version. Over the course of the last year and a half in which he hasn’t competed for Muncy, Blair has transformed his body and it has made him better equipped to wrestle the kind of style he wants to.

Blair won the 132-pound championship at the Top Hat on Saturday because of the dogged pace he set with his offense. He defeated four consecutive regional qualifiers with one fall and three wins by a combined score of 29-11.

“With missing so long and not being able to do anything, what I focused on a lot is my cardio and giving it 110% at the end of practice when we’re doing out conditioning,” Blair said. “So I have that extra little bit in the gas in the tank now at the end of the third period that I know if I need it, I can go get it.”

Blair has always been one to work at break-neck speed on the wrestling mat. But toward the end of his sophomore season when his weight cut got to be a little too much, it was tough to maintain that kind of speed and tenacity. That was not the case over the weekend.

His strength allows him to get to the what he wants to get to on the mat. His conditioning allows him to do it for 6 minutes at a pace which makes even scorekeepers sweat.

It’s all part of the process to be the best wrestler he can be during his final season with Muncy. He and coach Royce Eyer are calling this season his redemption year. He missed his entire junior season after knee surgery in the first couple weeks of the season. And with just one more run through a high school season, he wants to make the most of it.

“This is a great way to get my redemption year started to just go out and get things done,” Blair said. “I just wanted to get out there and wrestle and do what I knew how to do and do the best I can.”

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