Where to begin with the athletic exploits of William Gibson “Gibby” Sweet? His state wrestling championship? His blistering quarter-mile speed in track? His All-America status in collegiate wrestling? His three county team titles and 87-10 record as a wrestling coach? His founding of three scholarship programs as well as his high school’s hall of fame?
The resume is long and the accomplishments varied for Sweet, a 1968 Pearl River High alumnus. Possessed of a decathlete’s muscular build, a com- petitive athletic temperament and the rugged good looks of the actor he later became, Sweet was the Pirates’ real-life Frank Merriwell – the All-American boy.
In wrestling, Sweet won two Rockland County crowns and two Section 9 (Rockland, Orange, Ulster, Sullivan counties) titles. After placing fourth in the state tournament at 168 pounds as a junior, Sweet captured the state title at the same weight his senior year. He posted a 20-1 record and was named The Journal-News Wrestler of the Year.
Sweet traded the brawn and agility of wrestling for the unharnessed speed of track in the spring. In his best event, the 440-yard dash – one lap around the cinder oval – he won the Rockland and Section 9 championships and placed seventh in the state meet, with a best time of a then-school record 50.9 seconds. He is one of the select few Rockland athletes to win Section 9 championships in two different sports. He also earned honorable mention All-County status in football.
But high school was just phase one of Gibby Sweet’s athletic career. On he proceeded to Rockland Community College where, as a sophomore, he gained All-America laurels with a third-place finish at 168 lbs. in the junior college national championships. He also made Academic All-America. In track, he posted an excellent 440-yard time of 48.9 seconds for third in the Region 16 meet.
Stepping up to the NCAA Division I level at Indiana State, Sweet was undefeated in two years of dual-meet competition, finished seventh in the NCAA Division I Tournament, and was a Division I All-America in his senior year. He lost only two dual-meet matches in four years of college wrestling. While a graduate assistant at Indiana State, he competed in and won several matches for the U.S. International Team, was an alternate member of the World Cup team, and placed sixth in the National Amateur Athletic Union open championships.
When Sweet ended his competitive career, he transferred the drive that propelled him on the mats to a brief but luminous stint as wrestling coach. Under his tutelage, Tappan Zee became a scourge of the county, winning three Rockland team championships, gaining three runner-up team finishes in Section 9, and compiling a win-loss record of 87-10 (an .897 winning percentage) from 1974 to 1979, including an unblemished 16-0 mark in 1977. Sweet, the Rock- land Coach of the Year in 1975, ‘76 and ‘77, had the most individual County champions (24), Sectional champions (14) and New York State place winners (eight) of any Rockland team during his six-year reign.
Sweet continues to make his mark in the Rockland athletic realm in various ways. He is the founder of the Pearl River High School Sports Hall of Fame. He also founded three scholarship programs: the Coach Dag Scholarship Golf Tournament, in memory of long-time Pearl River wrestling and football coach, Julie D’Agostino; the Craig Marshiano Scholarship at Tappan Zee High School, in honor of an All-County wrestler from the Tappan Zee class of 1977 who died of a brain tumor in 1992; and the William G. Sweet Memorial Scholarship at North Rockland High School, a $2,000 scholarship given by his family in memory of his father who taught at the school for 31 years.
Sweet, who is 49, lives in Orangeburg with his wife, Marcia. They have two daughters from Marcia’s previous marriage- Liz, a sophomore at SUNY Binghamton, and Jen, a junior at Pearl River High School.