Westmoreland County trio looking for 100-win milestone, trip to Hershey at WPIAL 2A tournament

Friday, February 18, 2022 | 10:31 PM

Every year, wrestlers set goals for the season.

Things like helping their team win section, WPIAL and state team titles or individual honors like a 100 career win milestone, a WPIAL title and qualifying for the state tournament. The ultimate goal is to get to Hershey and become a state champion.

Ligonier Valley senior Ryan Harbert, Mt. Pleasant senior Noah Gnibus and Southmoreland senior Anthony Govern are in position to check two of those boxes at the same time.

All three can reach the 100-win milestone this postseason, and if they do, they’ll be heading to Hershey for the state tournament.

Their quest for glory started Friday at the WPIAL Class 2A championships at Canon-McMillan.

Harbert (22-6, 95-33) is seeded eighth at 138 pounds. He opened the tournament by pinning Grant Hathaway of Carmichaels. He then was pinned in the quarterfinals by No. 1 seed Rudy Brown of Burgettstown.

He’ll need a couple of wins Saturday to advance to the Southwest Regional. The top eight advance to the regional on March 4-5 at Peters Township.

“Getting 100 wins would be pretty cool,” Harbert said. “But if it cost me a trip to Hershey, it wouldn’t be worth it. A trip to Hershey means a little bit more to me. I’m definitely motivated. It’s kind of wrapping two goals into one.”

Harbert has reached the next step before but hasn’t earned a trip to the state tournament yet.

“The goal is to advance,” Harbert said. “I just have to wrestle my best. I’ve been a little sloppy this year. I just have to wrestle clean and mistake free. I have to focus on my defense a little more.”

An injury during the season cost him some matches, preventing him from getting 100 wins. But if he qualifies for the state tournament for the first time in his career, he’d probably reach the milestone.

Gnibus (12-1, 91-36) also has been close to qualifying for states. He knows if he reaches the state tournament this year, he’ll probably reach the 100-win milestone as well.

A hip injury that required surgery forced him to miss numerous tournaments or he would have already hit the century mark.

“I feel I can reach the milestone,” Gnibus said. “I have a shot. It’s definitely possible.”

Gnibus said it was rough at the beginning of the season to get into shape, but he feels good now.

“It was tough getting my conditioning up and mobility back in my hip,” Gnibus said. “I feel good because I trained hard.”

Gnibus is seeded third at 189 and began his day by pinning Wyatt Foster of Knoch at 189. In the quarterfinals, he defeated Laurel’s Chase Tinstman, 7-0.

Govern said his goal all along has been to reach the 100-win milestone. The three-sport star at Southmoreland can achieve that goal at the Southwest Regional.

Govern (32-5, 98-39), who is seeded third at 215, defeated Central Valley senior Alex Kuzma, 10-6, at 215 and then pinned Laurel’s Ryan DiMuccio in the quarterfinals.

“If I get 100 wins, I’m going to make it to states,” Govern said. “It’s a win-win situation. Getting 100 wins was one of my only goals. Now seeing where I’m at as a senior, I want to be on the podium at states.”

Mt. Pleasant senior Dayton Pitzer, a two-time WPIAL and PIAA champion, is one obstacle in Govern’s path.

“He’s only one wrestler,” Govern said. “Anyone behind him is beatable, and he’s beatable if you catch him on a bad day. Anyone can be beat.”

Govern, who also plays football and baseball, plays to attend Waynesburg University and play football and wrestle.

He said he’s already talked to some football players who do both and he’s going to give it a shot.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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