The History of Top Gun
The Top Gun Wrestling Tournament began in 1987. In 1986, co - founders John "Jack" Webb (Alliance H.S. asst. Principal) and Chuck Kreiner ( Head Wrestling Coach) ran an 8 team JV tournament. They decided to elevate it the next season to a varsity one. The tournament expanded quickly in the early years, attracting teams from Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Maryland, New York and Kentucky. It also attracted a Florida and Utah team. The tournament originally ran at the end of January and was especially aided by teachers who used their records day to work the tournament. The tournament settled on Martin Luther King weekend to allow an extra day of travel for out of state teams. Alliance businesses and sponsors jumped on board and have provided a generous amounts of food, money and resources over the years.
The Top Gun hit a 25 year milestone in 2011. The Top Gun started with 16 teams but has settled between 40 and 48 teams. The last few years have seen a rush of teams, some of which have to be turned away. Alliance won the first tournament. Austintown Fitch H.S is the only other school besides Alliance to have entered every Top Gun.
There have been many exciting matches over the years but perhaps none as exciting as Zak Kalai's (Wadworth) upset over Jeff Ratliff ( Marion Harding) (1999) and Ben Jordan's (Graham) last second take down of Tony Jameson ( Fitch) (2008). Both matches prevented a 3 time Top Gun Champion from gathering the elusive 4th title. No wrestler has won 4 Top Gun Championships. Sonny Marchette (Walsh) , Brian Singleton (Alliance/Crestwood) and Tyler Warner (Claymont) are the only two time champions who received the Kit Baucum Outstanding wrestler award twice.
St. Paris Graham has the most team titles at 7 followed by St. Edward with 5 and then Claymont and Walsh with 3. Claymont has been among the most loyal State wrestling powers to enter the Top Gun over the life of the tournament.
The Top Gun uses 5-6 mats in the main gym and 2 in the auxiliary gym. The finals use 3 mats in the main gym. 7th and 8th place is wrestled in the afternoon before the finals. The Top Gun has had a wide variety of entertainment before finals throughout its history. An Elvis impersonator, sumo wrestling, para troopers repelling out of the ceiling, jump rope exhibitions, bands and DJ's have entertained large crowds before finals. Between 1300 and 1400 fans attend the finals for Top Gun each year. The Top Gun is proud to proclaim the best Comp room of any tournament each year. A super-human effort goes into feeding over 300 coaches, workers and officials each year. A variety of baked goods by Alliance staff, parents and administrators complimented with a generous donation of Alliance restaurants and food vendors have made it easy to return each year for the coaches and teams. While Top Gun has had many sponsors over the years, Asics has been the mainstay and will continue. Alliance We're Rolling Time Pretzel company did sponsor for many years in the early decades of the tournament.
In 2012 Top Gun went to Sikora systems online and software program to run the tournament. Top Gun has used software since 1994. In 2013 Clovis California became the furthest school to travel to Top Gun. They won despite a valiant effort from Ohio State Champion Massillon Perry.
The 2015 Top Gun will tie the most ever teams with 48. Perry, Lake, Claymont, Carrollton, LaSalle and Marysville bring strong teams from top to bottom from Ohio. Fort LeBoeuf HS (Pennsylvania), Huntington (West Virginia) and Trinity Area HS (Pennsylvania) are the only out of state teams. An important local battle will ensue this Top Gun as many area teams boast a solid wrestling line up. The Review area contenders encircling Alliance this weekend include Marlington, Alliance, West Branch, Southeast, Louisville and Minerva. Who will be crowned Top Gun review area champs?
The 2016 Top Gun boasted 48 teams. New teams that have never wrestled at the Top Gun Tournament include Newcomerstown, Perrysburg, Dayton Christian, St. John School, Ripley, Perkins and Tuslaw. Corey Shie (11) won his 3rd title for LaSalle. Juniors Ian Sharpe (West Branch), Hunter Kosco (Northwest) and Andrew McNally (Lake) successfully defended their titles. Flo Wrestling returned to cover the Top Gun and covered the greatest match in Top Gun Finals history. The match featured David Carr (Massillon Perry- soph.) a 2 time HS State champ in 8th grade from Kentucky, 9th grade for Dayton Christian in Ohio faced his former teammate two time state champion Logan Lacure (senior) in a match that resulted in a ultimate tiebreaker rideout win for Lacure. However, both wrestlers were the star of the show. A bout filled with edge line calls, lightning shots, stellar defense and before the final whistle both wrestlers had their hands raised in premature mistakes by the referee . The match ended much to the dismay of the fans who hoped there would be as many overtimes added as to make the match carry into Sunday morning with Lacure hanging onto Carr's leg fully extended like Hurricane David was sweeping him away. Lacure held on and secured a ride out point to win. Interesting enough the seeming mistake by the referee of the premature hand raising of both wrestlers was only fitting as both wrestlers are truly winners and champions of the Top Gun. Even the famous flag raising at Iwo Jima had 2 raisings and so did the Top Gun 145 pound finals in 2016.
2017 tournament started with a sad note on the passing of legendary coach and promoter Chuck Kreiner. Chuck founded the Top Gun Tournament and was a special education teacher at Alliance before retiring. A special memorial video was played for Chuck and Bill Nagy, long time Alliance supporter and youth coach who also passed away. They will be missed. David Carr was unchallenged and as brilliant as 2016. Perry edged out LaSalle in the team hunt. Walsh gathered 3 instrumental people into the Hall of Fame including Scott Overholt, Johnni DiJulius and Bill Barger along with Alliance contributor Bill Nagy posthumously. Corey Shie- LaSalle pinned in the first period in the final at 138 lbs to become first 4x Top Gun Champion. He was also the most outstanding wrestler. Rudis was a popular replacement for Asics as the main Top Gun Sponsor this year. The top match of the night featured 3x Top Gun champ Hunter Kosco from Northwest and Jordan Decatur from CVCA. Kosco won his 3rd title in OT as the matched featured countless numbers of lightning shots, counters and second and third level countering. The big man in the red hat successfully passed the 4000 mark of removing people with no hang tag or coaches and wrestlers not on deck off the gym floor.