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Hobbs following in Fertig's footsteps

By Joe Bendel

Not long ago, the living room in Patty Hobbs' home looked like it had been ravaged by a hurricane. Broken lamps. Tipped coffee tables. Crumpled rugs.

"Me and my brothers would wrestle all around the place," said Randy Hobbs, the third of Patty and Dan Hobbs' four boys. "We'd kick things over, roll around the floor - we'd just go at it." Mrs. Hobbs was not entertained by Wrestlemania IV.

"She'd get really mad and then she'd send us out of the house," said Randy Hobbs, a star wrestler at North Hills High School. "I don't blame her."

Randy Hobbs has come a long way since those rug wrestling free-for-alls. He earned his 100th career victory at North Hills Dec. 18 and his four-year mark entering this week was 109-15.

A 135-pounder, Hobbs has never lost a dual meet. His season-by-season record is as follows: Freshman, 27-3; sophomore, 36-5; junior, 31-7; and 15-0 this year. Hobbs won his weight class at the West Mifflin and Blairsville tournaments this season.

"The 100th win meant a lot to me because it was one of the goals I set as a freshman," Hobbs said. "I didn't know where or when I would hit it, but I wanted to follow in (North Hills graduate) Chris Fertig's footsteps." Fertig, who completed his North Hills career with 109 victories, is the only other North Hills wrestler to eclipse the century mark and is wrestling at the Coast Guard Academy. Hobbs could become North Hills' victory leader tonight when the Indians wrestle at Hampton. "To be in the company of a wrestler of his caliber makes you appreciate it even more," said Hobbs of Fertig.

A Laurel Gardens resident, Hobbs was asked if he remembered his first victory.

"I know it was against one of the academy's - either Shady Side or Sewickley," he said. "I had to wrestle a senior and I was as nervous as I could be. I was real defensive, backing away from him. I didn't know what was going to happen."

So what did happen? "I pinned him," Hobbs said. "But I wasn't thinking about winning 99 more after that."

Hobbs' next mission is to pull a double-double at the WPIAL and PIAA championships. He has placed at the WPIAL tournament the past three years and made his first PIAA appearance last season.

He enters the final leg of the 1997-98 campaign as one of western Pennsylvania's top 135-pound wrestlers. "His weight class is very competitive, but he's among the best," said North Hills coach Mike Benko. "He's been in some big tournaments and has taken the Outstanding Wrestler award, which shows he can compete with the top kids."

Hobbs can thank older brothers Bryon, 22, and Jayson, 19, for that. Bryon was a captain of the 1993 North Hills PIAA Class AAAA championship football team and Jayson is a wrestler at Washington & Jefferson College.

That trio often engaged in Battle Royales. "I can't say they weren't aggressive," their mother said. "They would get pretty rough sometimes."

"My brothers always pushed me," said Randy Hobbs, who also has a younger brother, Patrick, and younger sister, Katie. "I always tried to compete with them. They both played on that state championship football team and they have their gold medals. Now I'd like to get one of my own."

Hobbs, who has a 3.0 grade-point average, hopes to continue his wrestling career at the collegiate level. He is considering John Carroll, Bloomsburg, Cornell, Clarion, Pitt and Pitt-Johnstown among others.

"I'm going to wait until the season ends," said Hobbs, who trains every Sunday at Pitt. "I want to stay focused right now and try to achieve as much as I can in high school. There are still things I'd like to do."

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