The Herald, Sharon, Pa.


February 24, 2014

WRESTLING NOTEBOOK: Reynolds, Greenville send big squads to regions

OPINION — The Reynolds High Raiders certainly have a sense of history when it comes to wrestling. Since the program began, no team has had more success.

That’s why head coach Casey Taylor pointed out how proud he was to be part of the school’s 20th district title since the points totals became official in 1981. And he made a key point about winning D-10 titles when he said:

“We try not to emphasize (the district team title) and if the kids do well as individuals it will take care of itself.”

And the Raiders certainly did well again, advancing 13 of 14 wrestlers to the regional tourney this weekend at Sharon.

But for Taylor, it was bittersweet. He had been hoping to take all 14, which would have been a record for the Raiders. He has to say goodbye to senior Denton Zeronas, who was one win from moving on. He lost a tough 3-2 decision to Chris Mueller of Sharpsville in the consolations.

“He was a real warrior for us, and a great teammate,” said Taylor. “We’re going to miss him.”

But while the Raiders ran away with the team title, Taylor pointed out there are things to work on: “I’m proud of everyone, but on the downside, what we want our kids to do when they lose is come right back. But some of them were down dropping into the 5th and 6th place matches.”

Now Taylor’s goal is naturally to advance all 13 to state, but while optimistic, he’s also a realist . “We have 13 opportunities next week, but we know it will be difficult,” said Taylor. “District 9 has some very strong individuals coming in this year.”

District 10 has some other pretty strong contenders as well as wrestlers battle for one of the top three places in their weights class to earn a trip to Hershey.

Greenville is right behind Reynolds, moving 10 grapplers on to regions. But the numbers in the past few years are inflated because of the current system.

District 10 now moves six place-winners to regionals to meet four from District 9. For many years D-10 only moved on four, and then it went to five. It moved up to six in 2011.

ä Winning a distict championship is one of the best titles a wrestler can win because it means it came against teams and wrestlers that we all know well. It is a real matter of pride.

And it’s not easy to win one, let along multiple times.

For example, Lakeview senior heavyweight Sam Breese won a state gold medal last season, but lost in the district final to Siippery Rock’s Forrest Christmann. So Breese was very happy to get his first D-10 crown Saturday, a feat that his coach Tom Tingley referred to as “getting a monkey off his back.”

I talked with Lakeview football coach Dan York at districts and he said Breese still wants to play college football, but hasn’t had any offers from Division I programs.

York said Breese has had a verbal commitment from Kent State Unversity to wrestle, but Breese hopes to possibly wrestle and play football if he’s allowed.

Some have done it before. Breese is the first all-state football player and mat state champ since Kennedy Christian’s Mike Garofalo in 1995. Garofalo went on to compete in both sports at the University of Buffalo, where he was captain of the football team his senior year.

ä It’s rare for county matmen to win three or four district titles and none did it this year. Michael Bartolo and Levi Stoyer of Reynolds each won their second and while Stoyer is a senior, Bartolo is a junior with a shot at a third next year.

Reynolds freshman Gage Bayless won at 106 and has a shot at a four-bagger. Sophomores Faris Messai (113) of Jamestown, Gage Gladysz (160) of Greenville, and Colton Smith (220) of Mercer could become three-timers.

ä Breese also excels as a student at Lakeview. Breese, along with Mason McCollum of Reynolds and Matt Wheeler of Northwestern, were the recipients of the annual Kevin Kubalic Memorial Academic Awards prior to the D-10 finals Saturday.

The monetary awards were presented by veteran referee Bo Bell, who directs the District 10 Association that raises funds each year. The big fundraiser is a golf tournament every year on Father’s Day.

ä The District 10 Coaches Association presents awards to coaches and teams. Making the presentations prior to the finals were Union City coach Jeff Hiner, president, and Lakeview coach Tom Tingley, secretary-treasurer.

Region team championship trophies went to Reynolds, Greenville and Fort LeBoeuf. The same three teams also won Section tournament trophies.

Section coaches of the year were Reynolds’ Casey Taylor, Greenville’s John Reynolds and Youngsville’s Scott Ishman. In one of the closest votes ever by coaches, Ishman was named “District 10 Coach of the Year.”

Assistant and middle school coaches of the year were Brett Vath of Saegertown and Mark Sallot of Harbor Creek respectively.

While Reynolds and Greenville have great sucess in winning team titles, both Taylor and Greenville coach John Reynolds are quick to point out how important the role of their assistant coaches play.

Reynolds varsity assistants are Joe Reichard, Mike Hills, Mark Bartolo, Marty Taylor and Adam Matthews. Greenville assistants include Brian Holzshu, Chris Cox, Dave Cornelius, Andrew Jones, Eric Weaver, Brent Beckstine, Kevin Kean, Dillon Scarcinella and Fred Scrivens. Both schools have others who help at times as well.

ä Individual awards at the District 10 finals were presented by former coaches Brian Hills of Reynolds and Bob Parker of Commodore Perry.

The two legendary mentors will be inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame this year.

Last year former Reynolds state champ Mark Bodo, a three-time All-American at Pitt, was inducted.

ä One more year! Hickory High veteran coach Carl Wombacker said he plans to coach one more season until his son Jordan graduates.

Jordan, a junior, missed the postseason after recovering from an injury, but plans to wrestle his senior year. Maybe!

Jordan has great potential for a college scholarship as a kicker and punter in football. If he would commit early to a Division I program, they may want him to concentrate on training in that area.

Right now, Jordan plans to lift and get bigger and stronger.

It was a big year for dad Wombacker as he became the winningest coach in Mercer County history. When Hickory defeated Conneaut Area on Jan. 31, it was Wombacker’s 371st victory.

That surpassed the mark of Brian Hills at Reynolds who posted a phenomenal record of 371 wins, 39 losses and 1 tie. Wombacker’s mark is 371-171-2.


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