ON CAMPUS: Gulibon rebounds with win at NCAA tournament
• EDITOR’S NOTE: On Campus features graduates of area high schools who are playing college sports. This installment appears every week throughout the school year. If you know of anyone who should be included, email Mirza Zukic at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (724) 465-5555, ext. 267.
After shrugging off a loss on Day 1 of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, Penn State freshman Jimmy Gulibon did something he’d done many times this year: He rebounded with a win.
The unseeded Gulibon (133 pounds), a graduate of Derry High School, bounced back from a 3-0 first-round loss to All-American Jon Morrison, of Oklahoma State, and manhandled Eastern Michigan’s Vincent Pizzuto, 10-2, to stay alive in the consolation bracket.
The three-day tournament resumes this morning from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. The top eight finishers in each weight class will garner All-America status.
“I wanted to move on in the winner’s bracket but now I’ve got to focus on making it through the (consolation bracket),” said Gulibon (18-14), a former four-time PIAA champ and a seventh-place finisher in this year’s Big Ten tournament. “Every match is tough here and you can’t take anyone lightly. I just got to take it one match at a time and wrestle my best.”
Morrison, the No. 4 seed, notched a takedown and an escape to beat Gulibon for the third time this season.
Morrison scored a 4-0 win over Gulibon in the championship bout of the Southern Scuffle tournament on Jan. 1. He then bested him with 2-0 win in a dual-meet on Feb. 16.
“Yeah, he’s (Morrison) pretty strong,” said Gulibon. “But everyone here is strong and tough to beat. I didn’t wrestle my match but hopefully I’ll get another shot at him.”
Pizzuto got off to an ideal start and recorded a first-period takedown on Gulibon to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Gulibon didn’t panic and quickly escaped before shifting into high gear for the rest of the bout. outscoring the Eastern Michigan sophomore 9-0 in the final three periods.
Gulibon essentially buried Pizzuto with a tilt that scored three backpoints in the final period.
“That felt good,” said Gulibon, who went 0-for-14 this year against conference foes. “Every win feels good, especially doing it here.”
In his second-round consolation bout today, Gulibon will face Illinois freshman Zane Richards. A fifth-place finisher at the Big Ten tournament, Richards edged Gulbion, 3-1, in sudden victory in a dual-meet on Jan. 24.
Gulibon expressed confidence heading into his do-or-die bout with Richards, a two-time Illinois high school state champ.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” said Gulibon, who bested Richards twice in unattached matches last season. “I’ve just got to go out and give it all I’ve got, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
KRISTEN GABELT (Robert Morris softball): While she’s struggled at the plate since the onset of the season, the Ligonier Valley graduate has shined in the outfield as an everyday starter for the Colonials. Gabelt, a sophomore who’s started 19 of the Colonials’ 24 games, is one of three typical Robert Morris starters who’ve yet to commit an error. Gabelt has notched six putouts and an assist.
In 54 at-bats, Gabelt has recorded 10 hits, including three doubles, a triple and a homer. She’s also driven in four runs and scored five more. Gabelt put forth her best performance of the year when she doubled and singled to help the Colonials blank Western Kentucky, 5-0, in the final game of the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament in Los Angeles on Feb. 16.
JOSHUA PATRICK (Rutgers wrestling): Patrick, a Ligonier Valley graduate, wrestled unattached in his redshirt freshman campaign for Rutgers, a Division I squad that competes in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association.
Although he got off to a rocky start by dropping two of his first three bouts and four of his first seven, Patrick finished strong and won eight of his last nine matches, including five in a row to cap the year. Patrick won by fall in six of his last eight bouts and finished with a 23-13 overall record and a 15-13 mark in the EIWA.
JOHN BLANKENSHIP (Pitt Johnstown wrestling): The United graduate competed in his first year of collegiate wrestling and amassed an 8-7 overall record and a 7-4 conference mark in his redshirt-freshman season.
Despite suffering losses in six of his first eight bouts, Blankenship found a groove and won six of his final seven matches, including six in a row between Jan. 10 and Feb. 8.
Of the team’s four 165-pounders, Blankenship sits at No. 2 on the depth chart behind Gary Lantz, who finished the regular season with a 20-5 record and recently fell one win shy of qualifying for nationals for a third time.
BRETT MARABITO and JOEL POLITES (Pitt Johnstown baseball): A graduate of the now-defunct Laurel Valley, Marabito has started in 10 of the first 15 games for Pitt Johnstown, which has won five of its first 15 games.
Marabito has recorded 11 hits and smacked two doubles and a triple in 40 at-bats (.275). The junior has scored seven runs, totaled three RBIs and walked twice. In the field, Marabito has one assist and 23 putouts.
Polites, a Northern Cambria graduate and a sophomore right-handed pitcher, appeared in one game this season, a 14-6 win over Mercy College (N.Y.) on March 13 in Fort Pierce, Fla. In that game, Marabito struck out three batters, allowed one hit and surrendered no runs.