The majority of wrestlers that start to participate have a family background in the sport.
Sure, it happens all the time that athletes are persuaded to get involved by friends or out of curiosity.
But look no further than the Wyoming Area wrestling room to see proof that family history is a big part of the game.
Start with a pair of brothers on the team in Pat and Nick Heck at 106 pounds and 138, respectively. The Hecks each claimed a gold medal at the District 2 Class 2A Tournament five days ago. They were part of a school-record tying four individual district champions. The only other time the Warriors accrued that many district golds in one tournament was in 1987 when the team wrestled in Class 3A. That year, the Hecks uncle, Pat Heck was one of the four to win. He is now an assistant coach at Wyoming Area.
“We brought it up (the record) and he was joking around saying theirs is Triple-A so ours doesn’t count,” Nick Heck said about his uncle’s comments. “But he’s a great coach and it’s fun having him in the room.”
Then there are cousins in between the Hecks with senior Carmen Mauriello at 120 and senior Andy Schutz at 126. They complete the foursome to win gold medals this season and are past regional qualifiers each advancing last season. Schutz has been to the Northeast Regional all four years and qualified for the PIAA Championships last season where he also won a match.
“Our whole team we act as a family. We do everything together, working out, cutting weight. It’s a great family atmosphere that we can work out and get better,” Nick Heck said.
And don’t forget the coaching combination of head coach Steve Mytych and his assistant and father, also named Steve. The coaching duo consists of the younger Mytych being a championship wrestler on all levels and he still currently wrestles competitively. The older Mytych brings a world of coaching experience to the program. Both have impacted wrestlers in many ways.
“Coach Mytych is a great coach,” Nick Heck said of the younger Mytych. “He will work out day in and day out. Him and his father would do anything for us…Make sure we’re on the right path to get to Hershey.”
Every year in the Wyoming Valley Conference there seems to be at least one weight class where several wrestlers have been outstanding.
This year that weight is 145 where Crestwood’s Matt Hammerstone, Berwick’s Kevin Laubach and Wyoming Valley West’s Cody Cordes all reside.
Before losing to Hammerstone in the District 2 Class 3A final, Laubach was undefeated - having beaten the Comet standout two times previously.
Cordes has had the toughest luck. A sophomore, he has just six losses this season with four coming at the hands of Hammerstone or Laubach. Take out those four losses and the Spartan standout hasn’t lost since December.
When being in the same tournament with those two, Cordes has taken third. His only loss in the WVC Tournament was to Hammerstone to finish third. His lone loss at districts was to Laubach by one point.
But he’s using those setbacks as a learning experience and not letting them get to him.
“It’s tough. I want to get back (at them) but they’re close matches and there’s a lot of good wrestlers at 145, it’s a tough bracket,” said Cordes, who will participate in his second regional tournament this weekend but was pulled out last year after suffering an injury and wrestling just one match. “I have a better mindset now and want to get (to states). I didn’t really get a good opportunity to give it my all last year so this year I want to give it my all. I’m a sophomore so I got two more years after that too.”
A MOHAWK LEADER
It wasn’t that long ago when Meyers was a struggling program going winless in Division II of the Wyoming Valley Conference and not advancing anyone to the regional tournament.
Since that 2007-08 season the Mohawks have turned things around dramatically, crowning at least one individual district champion every year and won the divisional and District 2 Class 2A Duals title.
At this moment, the individuals streak may be prolonged even longer because T.J. Cistrunk extended the run with last weekend’s 160-pound title. And although he’s just a sophomore, Cistrunk has taken on a leadership role this season.
“He’s attentive in the room and listens to everything we tell him,” Meyers coach Ron Swingle said. “We’ve spent a lot of time not only wrestling but helping him be in a personal leadership capacity and he’s responded really well.”
The Wilkes wrestling team just broke the school record for consecutive wins with 19 straight this season.
Former Colonels are also impacting District 2. Valley West head coach Drew Feldman wrestled for Wilkes and his assistant coach Buddy Gouger was a teammate there, who also brings District 11 experience.
Former Hazleton Area head coach Dave Shafer was on the Wilkes coaching staff the last two seasons as a graduate assistant before returning to the Cougars wrestling room for this season helping out the junior high program.