Butler Junior High wrestlers have best season ever
By John Enrietto
Eagle Sports Editor
BUTLER TWPó Don Geibel has done more than return to his wrestling roots.
He's helping those roots to grow.
Geibel, 25, is completing his second year as the Butler Junior High School wrestling coach and has guided the program to the best season in its history.
The Golden Tornado finished with a 13-1 dual match record and ranked No. 6 in the state by Pennsylvania Wrestling News Magazine.
Butler defeated second-ranked Fort LeBouef and fifth-ranked North Hills while winning the North Allegheny Junior High Invitational for the first time in school history.
Butler also won the Cranberry Junior High Invitational, its own Dual Meet Tournament and its section title.
Last year's Butler junior high team finished 8-3. The season before Geibel arrived, it was 6-5.
"Since (former junior high coach)Aaron Royhab stepped down, there was a revolving door there in terms of coaches,"Geibel said. "I was back in Butler working and I wanted to give something back to the wrestling program that had given so much to me."
Geibel tried making the Tornado basketball team as a 5-foot-1 freshman, but was cut. Varsity coach Stoner tried to get him to begin wrestling that year, but Geibel refused.
"I just wasn't ready then,"he recalled. "I worked hard at basketball every day and did everything right. I got cut because I was too small.
"Once I did decide to try wrestling and saw that size didn't matter, I was hooked. I was going to succeed at it."
Geibel didn't win a match during his sophomore year. He was 17-2 at 103 pounds as a junior before winning 32 matches his senior season and reaching the state tournament.
From there, Geibel wrestled for two years at Gannon and a year at Edinboro. He graduated from the latter school and returned to Butler last year, taking a job as a nuclear medicine technologist at Butler Memorial Hospital.
"Donny is one of the more memorable kids I've coached because he never lost his passion for the sport,"Stoner said. "That passion has only grown stronger, much like my own."
Geibel's assistant coach is Aaron Pascazi, who graduated from Butler last year. Pascazi was 54-33 in his high school career, including 24-12 his senior campaign.
Pascazi is headed to Seton Hill University in the fall and will be on the wrestling team there.
"Aaron's been a major plus," Geibel said. "He's a great organizer. When I'm late getting to practice from the hospital or if I can't get there at all, I know everything's taken care of."
Butler's junior high team had 42 youngsters come out for the squad and had 33 stick with it. The Tornado were able to fill all 18 weight classes for most of the year.
"That's huge right there. We haven't been able to fill 14 weight classes at the high school level all year,"Stoner said.
Cole Baxter went 42-0 for the junior high team over the past two years. Dakoda Collins lost only one match all season and Eric Tuck was defeated just three times.
Alex Miranda joined Baxter and Tuck as 20-match winners this year. First-year wrestlers Chris White and Blaise Wheeler combined to win 32 matches while losing only nine.
"A number of our kids have been wrestling since the elementary level,"Pascazi said. "I came up through the grade school program and it's only gotten better since then."