Reynolds High senior Gary Steen is on the precipice of lending to his legacy. Already a 2-time PIAA champion, Steen is seeking his 4th consecutive crown at the annual District 10 Wrestling Championships, which take place today at Sharon High.
According to Don Shaffer of Reynolds Wrestling Magazine, the short list includes many of Steen’s Blue & Gray predecessors, including Matt Dunn (2003-06), Lawrence Beckman (2004-07), Mason Beckman (2008-11), Dylan D’Urso (2009-12), Austin Matthews (2010-13), Cole Matthews (2015-18), and Beau Bayless (2016-19). Also, Grove City’s Jerry Spence (1938-1941) and Steve DeAugustine (1940-1943) and Geenville’s Rich Guerrini (1950-1953) and Rod Wentling (1958-1961).
Steen enters the D-10 tournament with an unblemished 19-0 won-lost ledger.
“That short list ... is somethin’ that’s revered at – not only Reynolds – but across the wrestling landscape,” gushed Reynolds Head Coach Casey Taylor. “I know a lot of great wrestlers that have won one or two (Taylor won in 1994 and ‘95), maybe three. But four is an unbelievable accomplishment. And what Gary’s doing right now, he’s not only puttin’ himself in that classification – one of District 10’s all-time greats and one of Reynolds’ all-time greats – but really on a state level he’s just done a phenomenal job – a state and national level.
“Gary is dedicated to the sport, he’s put a lot of time in, and the rewards comin’ his way due to his hard work and overall talent ... it’s just fun to watch,” Taylor continued.
“It’s such an art, to be honest, when you’re watchin’ wrestling, and his skill-set out there is amazing to watch, to kind’ve sit back and see what he’s thinkin’. Our coaching staff and him have a good relationship, in terms of we can almost see where he’s going. But the good thing is his opponents don’t (see it) a lot of times, so we’re happy about that,” Taylor added, concluding,
“He’s a very good kid. He’s grown up a lot, in terms of what he envisions himself to be as far as a wrestler and the young man that he is. So we’re very proud of him ... can’t be any prouder, to be honest with you.”
Steen will have plenty of company today, as teammates Kane Kettering, Kaeden Berger and Cole Toy also will look to defend District 10 crowns.
Regarding Reynolds’ bid to defend its team title, Taylor assessed, “I think there’s a renewed energy. ... I think Cole and Gary and Kaeden have got their sights set on a District 10 title. We don’t have as many kids in this tournament as we wanted, and we certainly don’t have as many as Fort LeBoeuf or Hickory and some other schools. So we’ve gotta be ready for a tough tournament.
“I think that, when you take some pressure off them individually – if you tell the team needs you to do it – it starts to get fun again. I don’t know how to express that any other way,” Taylor continued. “When you make it about yourself and start to tighten up, you really do wrestle that way; when you make it that your team needs you to do a certain job, they go out and perform even better. So that’s somethin’ we’ve kind’ve pushed and pressed upon with these guys, and I think they’re gonna do a great job.
“It’s gonna be an exciting tournament,” Taylor forecasted. “I wish our fans and the sporting fans in the area would be allowed in there, because a district tournament that is one day ... is gonna be three or four rounds of wrestling, so you’ve gotta have your best performance each time. So it’s something that’s very attractive to a sports fan, and I’m excited about all that.”
• Numerous Mercer County matmen enter today’s tourney with impressive credentials. According to PA Wrestling.com, Steen, Greenville 189-pounder Cole Karpinski – both 19-0 – and Cochranton’s Jack Martinec (17-0) are the only unbeatens.
Mercer’s Carson Filer (22) has logged the most wins, followed by his Mustangs’ mate Michael Berger and Hickory’s Carter Gill and Connor Saylor (21), Grove City’s Hunter Hohman, Hickory’s Louie Gill and Justin O’Neill and Mercer’s Harrison Murray (20). Once-beaten grapplers include Hohman, Eisenhower’s Cael Black and Lakeview’s Isaac DeVault (both 19-1), Reynolds’ Berger, Rocco John-Daniello, Kettering and Toy, and Commodore Perry’s Gage Musser (all 18-1). Also, Greenville’s Chase McLaughlin (16-1) and Maplewood’s Joey King (15-1).
• Cathedral Prep won the District 10 Class 3A crown. The Ramblers recorded 203 points and were followed in the team standings by Gen. McLane (167), McDowell (125.5), Meadville (90), Warren (20), and Erie (13).
Individual gold medalists included Prep’s Sam Staab (106), Jacob VanDee (113), Ian Irvin (120), Phillip Stark (126), Kaeman Smith (132), Paniro Johnson (152), and John Campbell (215), McDowell’s Logan Carrick (138) and Mark Chambers (285); Gen. McLane’s Matt Leehan (145), Jackson Spires (160), and Magnus Lloyd (172), and Meadville’s Griffin Buzzell (189).