Carson’s Corner: The Future Looks Bright for MC Wrestling

| January 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

MugTo paraphrase the old Timbuk 3 song, Mifflin County wrestling has a future so bright it has to wear shades.

It’s been a slow, often grinding process, as most successful endeavors are. However, the seeds planted years ago are starting to sprout and the fruits of this vast labor are giving their yield.

Mifflin County wrestling has a varsity team capable of winning the District 6 Duals on a consistent basis now. They have closed the gap with Central Mountain and it is only a matter of time before they can compete with the giants of the Mid-Penn. The county also has a junior high team that can go toe-to-toe with any squad in the state. That is not hyperbole…it is a fact.

How did all this develop?

Two reasons stand out. Quality coaching and dedicated, committed athletes.

Let’s start with the coaching aspect.

The roots of this wrestling renaissance begins with two former state champions – Kenny Whitsel and Joe Daubert.

Whitsel and Daubert took over the Lewistown and Indian Valley programs respectively and immediately instilled a mantra of hard work and discipline to programs that lacked direction at the time.

They forged an attitude of mental toughness in the kids and slowly but surely the effort translated into victories, individual and team, on the mat.

The nice thing about hard work is that it’s universal. It doesn’t matter what industry or sport you’re in — hard work can be used to achieve positive long-term results regardless of the specifics.

The Whitsel and Daubert eras brought forth names like Nic Bedelyon, Mike “Chub” Robinson, Matt Snyder, Matt Bonson, Colton Spade, Adam Will, Tyler Bedelyon and Chad Frankhouser, just to name a few. They all flirted with PIAA gold.

Whitsel and Daubert were the products of two other men who instilled the same attributes into them many years ago. I’m talking about Charlie Roselle and Dick Tressler, two legends in the wrestling game.

Ripped from the same cloth is Kirby Martin, who cut his teeth in the sport at Messiah College with the great Neil Turner and Whitsel as his mentors.

Martin took over for Whitsel at Lewistown and became head coach of the Huskies with the merger in 2011. It was the perfect choice.

Kirby and his staff of Dale Searer, Joe Eckenroth and Adam “I will not talk to the media” Stout are all teachers first and foremost. You won’t hear much rah-rah out of them. They preach consistency and effort.

They were at their best at the Husky Duals. Teaching through every match, even in the 66-6 and 70-3 blowouts over Wellsboro and Souderton were lessons to learn.

Add to this a junior high staff of Bill and Justin Shafranich, Mark Cavanaugh and Dave Wray and you have coaches who are passionate about the sport, want to teach and get the most out of every kid that comes out. So far, the formula is working pretty well.

The Husky junior high team is 18-1 on the season with their only loss coming at the hands of Nazareth (51-41) back on December 15.

However, coaching is not enough that’s why you need the second component to a successful program – dedicated and committed athletes.

The 14-5 Huskies show no signs of slowing down. With only four seniors in the starting lineup, (Lucas Besch at 132, Kevin Bair at 138, Joe Knarr at 152 and Caleb Rhodes at 285) Mifflin County is young and only going to get better.

Hayden Hidlay, Noah Stewart and Brandon Wilson are three freshman starters who could eventually have the same impact as Snyder, Robinson and Bonson did for Lewistown. Tall order I know, but they have the talent to do it.

Sophomore Isaac Underhill is the most improved wrestler on the team. He spent the summer in the weight room and it shows. Daulton Wilson is a sophomore who needs to add some bulk in the offseason and he could go far as well. Kyle Kahley is much improved and kids like McKenon Todaro and Keith Corson just need some seasoning.

Coming attractions for next year include Quentin Miliken and Andrew Wert, both PAJW champions, and Trey Hartsock. Trent Hidlay, Hayden’s brother, is a few years away from the varsity.

There is also raw talent like Mike Bielski, who despite being a first-year wrestler is strong and shows a ton of natural ability. The cupboard is not bare it is stacked and only getting better,

The kids are all-in, the coaches are top-notch and the fans are buzzing about the current and future state of the Husky program.

A wrestling renaissance has returned to Mifflin County. Now is a great time to jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride.

Category: Carson's Corner

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