Timeless Bedford County Sports Traditions: Wrestling

The leaves and temperature have fallen, the Friday night lights have turned out, and the cheers have escaped the outdoor fields, leaving them vacant and snow-covered. Winter has arrived, but so has the excitement of winter sports!

Families and friends alike gather now to enjoy all of the winter sports indoors and away from the elements. The cheers are now magnified by the closed-in walls of the gymnasium as everyone is watching the floor at center stage. There is no doubt, wrestling in Bedford County is one of the most popular sports, drawing crowds in from near and far. Wrestling started as an ancient sport, with traces of the sport in Ancient Egyptian and Greek culture. Now, wrestling has been a part of Bedford County’s sports history for decades, with many of the schools establishing wrestling programs before the 1970s, with the oldest being Bedford’s, starting in the 1930s.

There have been recent team inductions into the Bedford County Sports Hall of Fame. The first team to be inducted was Bedford’s 1961-1962 team that held eight District Champs and a head coach, Coach Ed Clark. This team ended with a career record of 149-24-1 and was inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame. Bedford’s season before the 1961-1962 year was also successful, going undefeated, while the 1961-1962 extended that winning streak to 21 wins. The winning streak also continued into the 1962-1963 team before losing to Johnstown, ending the winning streak at 27 consecutive wins. The 1966-1967 had success as well, going undefeated for only the sixth time during the then-30 year history of Bedford Wrestling.

The 1977, the Northern Bedford Panthers Wrestling team would ring in the next induction to the Bedford County Hall of Fame, which finished the 1977 season with a 12-1 record. This team held seven District 5 Champions, including Jan Clark, Brent Bowser, Mark Sollenberger, Brian Detwiler, and Victor Hart, who overall captured three consecutive District 5 team titles from 1975-1977. The Panthers, who were led by Jan Clark, the team captain and a three-time state champion himself, highlighted the 1977 season with a 29-28 victory over Bedford, which was the first time an NBC wrestling team had ever defeated Bedford’s varsity wrestling.

One last wrestling team had been inducted into the Bedford County Hall of Fame in 2016, and that was the 1980-1981 Everett Warriors wrestling team. The Warriors finished the year undefeated with a record of 17-0-1 and captured their first Inter County Conference title after defeating Bedford for only the second time in history, the first being in 1957. This team also held five District 5 finalists, Hank Neville, Scott Mearkle, Todd Allman and Paul Clark III.

Bedford County has a long and exciting history of successful wrestlers over the years, and history continues with the current wrestlers across the County today. You can enjoy a front row seat of history in the making at the Annual Thomas Chevrolet Tournament every January, sponsored by Thomas Chevrolet Subaru and hosted at Bedford High School, or catch play-by-play action on your local radio station, STAR 100.9FM throughout the season. With so many ways to keep up with the nail biting action of Bedford County wrestling, you can always show your support and watch the history unfold!

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