By Lynn Saternow
Herald Sports Editor
THE STATE victory by Austin Matthews was very trying on everyone. Having lost twice in the state finals, the Reynolds High senior had a lot of people pulling for the him to finally climb to the top of the medal stand.
Well, most people except Coudersport fans who were rooting for his finals opponent Kyle Bova.
Reynolds second-year head coach Casey Taylor was very emotional after Austin’s victory. As he said after the match, he was so happy Austin won because “I don’t know what I’d have told him if he didn’t.”
Shortly after the match, Casey was sweating more than Austin. And he even wiped away a few tears. Part of the tearful joy came because Austin was his first state champ as a head coach. But also, no one understands the pressures Austin was going through better that Casey.
While the scenario was slightly different — Casey had won state titles in his sophomore and junior years while Austin had lost both of his finals appearances — the pressure was immense on both.
Austin had told me that he would sit in school thinking about what he would do upon making the finals again.
Casey often related the story his senior year (1994-95) about how much the pressure was getting to him.
“We didn’t have a really a strong tournament team that year,” said Casey. (Only he and Joel Hughes (125) made it to Hershey and Hughes went out early.)
“I really didn’t have much confidence going into the finals and I told (Kennedy Christian’s 152-pound state finalist and a vicious leg rider) Joel Giroski that I didn’t think I could beat (Central Columbia’s John) Fogarty. Joel told me, ‘What are you talking about? Nobody can take you down and if you can get out on me, you can get out on anybody.’
“He really pumped me up. He gave me the confidence I needed to win (8-3). If it weren’t for Joel I don’t think I would have won.
“I’ve told our guys that story before. It’s important to have people around you supporting you and all the county guys (6 in the finals) were like a team that year.”
This year, Matthews had a couple of other Raiders with him for the finals — Levi Stoyer (145) and Jamar Henry (182) in the consolation finals at the same time. Casey talked about how having Stoyer to work out with all year helped both Matthews and Stoyer.
“The kids really support each other,” said Casey. “But we have a lot of support at Reynolds; it’s like a community thing. People would do anything for these kids. From the coaches (Joe Reichard, Mark Bartolo and Marty Taylor) to many other who help out in different ways . The parents, the fans and others make it great to wrestle for Raider Nation.”
ä When it comes to support, Matthews had his older brother Adam — now wrestling at Thiel College — and younger brother Cole on hand at the tournament along with his parents and many other backers. Taylor of course is licking his chops thinking of another Matthews moving up to varsity in a couple of years. Cole is a 7th grader and has great sucess in junior wrestling already.
ä Lakeview state champ Sam Breese also had a nice rooting section from his school on hand. Mike Dye, who works out with Breese at times, was one of the first to give him a hug after the finals victory.
And football coach Dan York was on hand to watch one of his players. Of course he took a little ribbing in the stands when he was told that Breese was considering just wrestling next year and not going out for football.
Considering the big hug Breese gave York, that’s very doubtful. When you are going to a small school like all of those around here, it is important that every boy or girl participate in more than one sport if he or she can.
And of course there was another big rooter looking on — Boiling Springs coach Rod Wright. Wright is the only other state mat champion from Lakeview in history, winning three state championships from 1985-87.
“Sam told me he wants to have his picture in the school beside mine,” said Rod. “I’m really happy for him.”
Of course Breese didn’t meet a Boiling Springs heavyweight in the finals, so there was no real conflict for Rod.
There have been only four 3-time state titles in Mercer County history — Wright; George Lewis of Farrell (1944-46); and Reynolds wrestlers Taylor and Justin Nestor (1998, 2000-01).
ä Matthews and Breese etched their names in the record books of county state champions. Following is a list of county champs who are part of that history:
1940 – Steve DeAugustino, Grove City
1941 – Jerry Spence, Grove City
1942 – DeAugustino
1944 – George Lewis & Howdy Prizant, Farrell
1945 – Lewis & John Bralich, Farrell
1946 – Lewis & Achilles Mouganis, Farrell
1947 – Vic DiVito, Farrell
1949 – Tom Springer, Farrell; Len DeAugustino, Grove City
1952 – Tom Seiple, Greenville
1957 – Emery Morrison, Greenville
1961 – Rod Wentling, Greenville
1962 – Bob Robbins, Greenville
1963 – Rick Stuyvesant, Greenville
1964 – Bobby Flint, Hickory
1966 – Art Grinnell, Commodore Perry
1967 – Ed Osborne, Commodore Perry; Jim Gollner, Reynolds
1972 – Chuck Corya, Reynolds
Classes A & B set in 1974
1974 – B: Dave Anthony, Reynolds; Steve Riley, Greenville
1975 – Jeff Shipton, Reynolds; Riley
Classes AAA & AA set in 1976
1976 – AA: Matt Smargiasso, Reynolds; Norm Walker, Greenville
1977 – AAA: Glenn Maxwell, Hickory
1979 – AA: Kevin Klasic, Reynolds
1980 – AA: Mike Bell, Grove City
1985 – AA: Mike Chupak, Commodore Perry; Mike Sherman, Hickory; Rod Martin (Wright), Lakeview
1986 – AA: Wright
1987 – AA: Kyle Cheza, Hickory; Wright
1989 – AA: Aaron Armer, Reynolds
1991 – AA: Craig Thurber, Greenville
1992 – AA: Tom Tomeo, Grove City; Matt Gentile, Reynolds
1993 - AAA: Tomeo; AA: Jonathan Hazi, Casey Taylor, Mark Bodo, Reynolds
1994 – AA: Hazi, Taylor; Fred Scriven, Commodore Perry
1995 – AA: Taylor; Tim Ault, Jamestown; Terry Claypool, Greenville; Mike Garofalo, Kennedy Christian
1996 – AA: Claypool
1998 – AA: Justin Nestor, Reynolds; Nevada Walker, Commodore Perry
2000 – AA: Nestor
2001 – AA: Nestor, Jerry Kendall, Reynolds
2003 – AA: Matt Dunn, Reynolds
2006 – AA: Dunn, Mike Edwards, Reynolds; Kellen Harris, Sharon
2007 – AA: Harris
2008 – AA: Jordan Moss, Sharon
2009 – AA: Caleb Kolb, Grove City
2010 – AA: Mason Beckman, Reynolds; Stephen Ceremuga, Commodore Perry
2011 – AA: Beckman
2012 – AA: Cody Copeland, Greenville; Wes Phipps, Grove City.
2013 — AA: Austin Matthews, Reynolds; Sam Breese, Lakeview.
ä I was glad to spend some time talking with Bob Gano, former Greenville High wrestler, who will be stepping down as head coach of the very successful Biglerville HIgh School program this year.
Bob spent 16 years at Biglersville after 8 years at Delone Catholic.
“I’m not retiring, I’m resigning,” said Bob with a smile, pointing out that he will be getting into coaching at the youth level where his son Sam, soon to be 7, will be competing.
Of course Sam — who came many years later after his older daughter Kaitlin, now 20 — is named after Bob’s father, Sam, a Greenville legend in wrestling.
“He and my mom are my biggest supporters,” said Bob. “But he’s still a Mercer County guy. If I would ask him about some wrestler from that area we might meet, he would say, ‘He’s really tough.’ When I asked him for more details, it would be like pulling teeth. He’s still very loyal to the county and the wrestlers there.”
Bob said probably his biggest thrill in coaching was when Shain Leggett won a state title in 1999. But he added, “Coaching is really about building character; it’s not about winning or losing. That’s what really determines the kind of job we do.”
He coached several boys who went on to coaching careers and some he had to coach against.
As Bob embarks on a new career with the younger kids, he also gave credit to his wife Donna. “She’s my biggest fan. Now we’ll find out what kind of wrestling mom she is,” he said with a laugh.
Bob, a retired state police officer, is also planning to spend more time with his new business, G-Force Investigations, a security firm.