Jeff Deisher made a point Thursday night to explain that he and his Montgomery coaching staff didn't make Isaiah Bobotas a great wrestler. He was already pretty good when the junior transferred from Muncy during the summer.
Deisher, the Red Raiders' long-time head coach, also made a point to thank Bobotas' former coach, Denny Harer, for helping to sculpt the 160-pounder into a wrestler that has to be in the thick of the discussion for a spot at the state wrestling tournament this year.
Bobotas showcased just how tough a wrestler he is Thursday night with a huge 3-2 win over South Williamsport's Justin Knee. It wasn't just that he beat a wrestler who was 17-2, but he bumped up a weight class do it.
He showcased incredible athleticism in hitting a funk roll for a first-period takedown. He showed great wrestling intelligence to attack just enough in the third period to slow Knee's offense.
"We've got a good kid. We're not going to sit and tell you that we turned him into a good kid. He was a good kid when we got him," Deisher said. "We appreciate the work they put in with him because they did a nice job. He's a tough kid."
Bobotas has fit nicely into Montgomery's team, both in the lineup and with his new teammates. There hasn't been much of an adjustment for Bobotas to get used to the way things are done in the room with the Red Raiders.
Although some small adjustments have been made, things haven't been that different because Bobotas was coming from a Muncy program whose head coach wrestled for Deisher at Montgomery in his first year as the Red Raiders' head coach.
"Once in a while he's not sure which practice he's at, whether it's ours or Muncy's. There are a few things we've had to ask him to do that we like to see kids do. It's not a knock on Muncy, we just do things a little bit differently than Muncy," Deisher said. "But he seems to have adjusted well and he gets along well with the kids. He's been a real nice plus and he's obviously in a spot in our lineup where we really need someone."
Deisher spoke glowingly Thursday about how beneficial it's been to get Bobotas down to 160 pounds because he's capable of wrestling with just about anybody at either 160 or 170, as he showed against Knee. Bobotas is 7-0 since he made the drop to 160 pounds after getting the two-pound weight allowance on Christmas day.
And those seven wins include three falls, a technical fall, and impressive wins over Warrior Run's Nick Rohm and then Knee. Bobotas has done well enough to earn the 20th spot in the Class AA state rankings at 160 pounds.
"I definitely feel bigger," Bobotas said about making the drop to 160. "My first tournament was a breeze. I was like, wow. I felt small (at 170). It's a big difference, definitely."
Bobotas' only loss this year came at 170 when he was caught on his back early against Canton's Tyler Cole before eventually losing, 11-6. He's never been one of the bulkier, more well-built wrestlers in his weight class in any of his three seasons as a varsity wrestlers. He's always been more focused on his quickness and his technique, something that was evident when he hit that brilliant funk roll for two points Thursday night.
But what he may lack in size and strength he makes up for with his wrestling acumen, which he showed in the third period against Knee. He knew what kind of shot the South Williamsport senior was going to go to, and he never allowed an opening for Knee to get to it.
"Isaiah wrestled smart and it's how you have to be when you wrestle a kid like that who's strong," Deisher said. "I thought he wrestled a very smart match and kept his composure for the most part."
Combined the intelligence with the ability, and Bobotas has become a wrestler on the state's radar.
A WORTH ACCOMPLISHMENT
Andrew Gipe is a quiet kid, a very unassuming person both on and off the mat. For four years he's been the key cog in a South Williamsport program which hasn't had a state placewinner since 2006, a three-time regional qualifier which just hasn't been able to take that next step to the state tournament.
Thursday night, the Mounties' senior reached a milestone which truly captured how valuable he's been to the South Williamsport program. His 11-4 win over Montgomery's Nick Buckle made him the seventh 100-match winner in South Williamsport history, and the first since Anthony Caschera reached the mark in 2010.
His 100th win was like much of his career, a grind-it-out match with Gipe wrestling as hard as he could and letting the chips fall where they may when the clock runs out.
"He's a heck of a hard-working kid. He's a good, quiet kid who just gives you everything he has every day," South Williamsport head coach Chris Molino said. "So regardless of what happens the rest of the year, I couldn't be any prouder of a kid."
Gipe has spent his first three postseasons right in the mix for a state tournament spot in loaded weight classes. Of the nine wrestlers who have taken the top three spots at regionals in his weight class each of the last three years, six have placed in Hershey, including four having finished in the top five in the state.
Gipe's best performance came in his sophomore season when he finished fourth at the regional tournament to Mifflinburg's David Sheesley, losing by one point in the third-place match. Gipe clearly is a wrestler worthy of a spot in the state tournament, as his No. 12 ranking in the state at 126 pounds can attest to.
But even if he doesn't qualify for state in this, his senior season, he's reached an accomplishment that will allow him to go down in the annals of South Williamsport's program. In fact, while he may not be able to reach Frank Noviello's school record of 127 career victories, a strong run through the postseason may help him make a run at Eric Caschera's and Shane Day's second-place mark of 114.
"He's been deep into the postseason every year. A point here or mistake there or whatever and he's probably (in Hershey)," Molino said. "Regardless of all that - and that's obviously where you want to go - he's just a quality human. He's going to be a champ in something somewhere."
A RIVETING ATMOSPHERE
Everything that is beautiful about District 4 wrestling occurred Tuesday night at Muncy. The best small school wrestling district in the best wrestling state in the country gave the standing-room-only crowd everything it could have asked for: a frenetic early pace of points scored, a huge comeback, and brilliant nip-and-tuck wrestling down the stretch to decide the winner.
The match was so good that the two teams ended up tied before Muncy was declared the winner on Criteria E of the tie-breaker rules, the most six-point wins.
"It was kind of ridiculous there for a while," Hughesville head coach Steve Budman said. "It was good stuff."
"Nothing better than that," Muncy head coach Denny Harer said. "That's a Muncy-Hughesville match right there. That's phenomenal."
The atmosphere had an interesting effect on Muncy sophomore Andy Aguilar whose pin at 126 pounds put the Indians in a great position to win. He was as energized as anybody in the gymnasium by the electric atmosphere, but that also hindered him as he tried to score big points.
As he settled down late in the match he was able to hit the move he kept missing on to score the big fall.
"The crowd definitely was motivating," Aguilar said. "It's a lot more fun that normal, but it's more nerve-wracking than normal."
A string of pins and forfeits helped the two teams cruise through the first 10 bouts in about 30 minutes. In fact, it wasn't until the 11th bout of the match that wrestlers reached the second period.
"It's great except for I keep losing more and more hair," Harer said.
WRESTLER OF THE WEEK
Carl Gorg, Williamson, 120 pounds
Gorg is a hidden gem in the middle of Williamson's stout group of lightweights. The sophomore was pushed up a weight class in the postseason a year ago by state qualifier Tyrus Hamblin and still finished fourth in the North section. He put together a brilliant week this past week for the Warriors, going 6-0, including the 120-pound championship at the Red Jacket Invitational in New York. He recorded three falls before beating Marcus Whitman's Josh Spina, 10-4, in the finals of the tournament. He followed it up with a fall against Sayre and a major decision win against Athens. Weighing in at a full 120 pounds, Gorg is 20-3 this year.
CAN'T-MISS MATCH OF THE WEEK
Williamson at Canton,
Thursday, 7 p.m.
It'll be a great contrast of Williamson's stellar lightweight wrestlers against Canton's dangerous upperweights. This will be a great test for Williamson's upperweights against the likes of Garrett Wesneski, Tyler Cole and Conner Route to see just how far they've come against elite competition. Northern Tier League wrestling always produces a dynamite atmosphere, and this should be the epitome of that.
Mitch Rupert covers high school wrestling for the Sun-Gazette. He can be reached at 326-1551, ext. 3129, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Mitch_Rupert.