The spotlight over the weekend was on eight Wyoming Valley Conference wrestlers advancing to the PIAA Championships, and deservedly so.
But their coaches also deserve credit and four of those coaches hit milestones of their own over the weekend.
Wyoming Area’s Steve Mytych, Wyoming Valley West’s Drew Feldman and Crestwood’s J.J. Konigus all dressed their first state medalist in Andy Schutz (Wyoming Area, seventh), Kyle Krasavage (WVW, fourth) and Matt Hammerstone (Crestwood, eighth). GAR coach Rick Simon advanced a wrestler to the state tournament for the first time with A.J. Luton.
“It’s a great feeling. Top eight in the state of PA. The kid wrestled great and I finally got my first medal,” said Konigus, who advanced wrestlers to the state event in all three of his seasons with the Comets and now has a medalist.
The four mentors are also part of a recent youth movement among WVC coaches. They condition with wrestlers periodically and some may even partake in practice at times.
“It’s more of the college atmosphere. All the assistant coaches in college are drilling with their kids and tweaking them and trying to guide them in the right direction,” Mytych said. “High school is usually not like that. The coaches wear their suits and don’t like to get their hands on.
“But the new realm of coaches coming back through are young guys like myself, just graduated from college and we’re still hands on and still have that competitiveness in us so it’s really just the new young guys getting in the mix.”
Mytych and Feldman are just a few years removed from college, while Simon graduated from GAR in the 2000s. Konigus wrestled in the late 1980s and early ‘90s at Lake-Lehman.
NO SHAME IN THAT
The five WVC seniors who ended their seasons over the weekend were down for some time during the state tournament once they realized they wouldn’t claim a state title. But there should be no lack of pride for any of the eight qualifiers from the conference because they lost to quality opponents.
Coughlin’s Brad Emerick was hit with three losses this season, but all came to the top three placewinners in the state. Krasavage’s two losses were at the hands of the state champion and the third-place medalist. Schutz’ loss in the opening round along with Hammerstone’s and Lake-Lehman’s Austin Harry’s setback in the quarters each came to the state runner-up in the respective brackets. Luton’s two tournament losses came to the eventual state champion and sixth-place medalist.
Nick Heck, another Wyoming Area standout, was hit with losses at states at the hands of the third and sixth-place medalists. Wyoming Valley West’s Travis Roper lost two bouts in the event coming to the fifth and seventh-place medalists.
WATCH OUT FOR
With five of this year’s eight WVC state qualifiers being seniors, there’s a great percentage that at least a few of next season’s state qualifiers from the conference will be newcomers to the event.
The up-and-comers list from the WVC looks very promising led by Hazleton Area sophomore Larry Romanchik, who placed fourth at the 3A Northeast Regional this season.
After the Cougar are 13 underclassmen who were one win shy at regionals from reaching the medal stand by wrestling in the state-qualifying bout. They are Wyoming Area’s Pat Heck and Charlie Johnson; Lake-Lehman’s Derek Dragon and Brady Butler; Wyoming Valley West’s James Wright and Cody Cordes; Crestwood’s Dan Ritz and Ty Robinson; GAR’s Zac Faust, Meyers’ T.J. Cistrunk, Pittston Area’s Tyler Lutecki, Tunkhannock’s Ben Siegel and Dallas’ Ryan Monk.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
47,778: The three-day total attendance at Giant Center in Hershey.
199: State record for career wins set by Upper Perkiomen’s Zack Kemmerer, who graduated in 2007.
190: Career wins by Norristown’s Brett Harner, state runner-up in Class 3A at 182-pounds. It’s the most career wins by any 2013 state finalist.
169: The District 2 record for career wins set by Abington Heights’ Evan Craig in 2010.
134: Wyoming Valley West’s school record for career wins set by Krasavage.
125: Career wins for Schutz, Wyoming Area’s all-time wins leader. It’s also the career wins without a loss for junior Chance Marsteller, Kennard-Dale’s three-time state champion who also won the 3A Outstanding Wrestler Award.
116: Austin Harry’s career wins at Lake-Lehman. The Black Knight is only a junior.
108: Total number of career wins for Emerick and Hammerstone.
57: State record for wins in a season set by Erie Tech’s Solomon Carr in 1983.
50: The D2 record for wins in a season, set by Craig in 2010.
29: That many Wyoming Valley Conference wrestlers have advanced to the state semifinals in the last 11 years.
12: Straight years the Wyoming Valley Conference has sent a wrestler to the state semis.
10: Number of grapplers, who ended their seasons unbeaten after the state tournament, seven in 2A and three in 3A.
8: How many wrestlers successfully defended their 2012 state championship, including four in 2A and four in 3A.