RSSCategory: Carson’s Corner

Carson’s Corner: Leftovers From Hershey

| March 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

MugThe PIAA state wrestling championships lived up to the hype with history-making performances by Thomas Haines and Chance Marsteller.

We also saw the emergence of a new generation of stars like freshman state champs Spencer Lee, Cameron Coy and Jake Riegel.

Here are some of my observations as we close out an exciting 2013-14 high school wrestling season here in the Keystone State:

Mifflin County saw four kids qualify for states and one, Hayden Hidlay, got up on the medal stand. Things are only going to get better.

Three of the four qualifiers were sophomores and Noah Stewart was one win away from placing. Stewart majored Carlisle’s Ian Shannon in the regular season and Shannon made the state finals at 160. Anything can happen at Hershey.

Trey Hartsock was a district and regional champion who I think got a little caught up in the bright lights and atmosphere of the Giant Center. He’s a solid wrestler.

They will all be back older, wiser and more mature.

Hidlay was very disappointed with his sixth-place finish and was visibly shaken. That’s good. Champions hate to lose. It drives them crazy. This will be his juice, his motivation in the spring and summer. Look for him to be much higher on the platform next season.

Still, Hidlay is only the second PIAA medalist in the school’s brief three-year history (Tyson Searer was the other) and in time he will come to appreciate just how great an accomplishment it is to be on the medal stand, even if it’s for a sixth-place award.

Add in the experience of Isaac Underhill, Noah Myers,  and Brandon Wilson, throw in newcomers Trent Hidlay and Isaad Maclay, and it’s easy to see Mifflin County will be strong again in 2014-15 with the goal of a District 6 Dual Meet title and more state qualifiers on the docket.

One thing I did see at Hershey our kids need, in my humble opinion, is to get a little bigger and stronger. We had a hard time finishing shots and by the same token, the guys had trouble stopping their opponent’s shots. The kids at the state level just looked a little bigger and stronger than our Huskies. Some off-season weight training and wrestling should do the trick.

I finally got my first look at Spencer Lee of Franklin Regional and all I can say is – WOW!

The kid has serious game.

He is non-stop action and aggression. He stays low, has great balance, doesn’t get out of position and he’s a great chain wrestler. Always on the attack, he’ll take you down, let you up and as soon as you turn to face him, Lee is back at your legs again.

Lee’s first PIAA appearance featured four wins;  16-1 and 19-4 tech falls, a 2:17 pin and a 15-5 major in the finals.

He finished the season 49-0 with 28 falls, 12 technical falls, five major decisions, three forfeits and one regular decision. In 49 matches, only six guys went the full six minutes with Lee.

Absolutely incredible.

We all knew Marsteller was good. Four state titles and a career mark of 166-0 proved that, but how about winning a state title with a stress fracture in your back?

It was announced after the tournament that Marsteller was wrestling with a fracture but he still came through to win his fourth title and remain unbeaten in his career.

How dominate was he?

Here are his results this past weekend – fall in 1:27, 19-3 and 16-1 technical falls, and a 14-2 major decision in the finals. He was named Outstanding Wrestler of the Class AAA tournament.

Marsteller, wrestling with a cracked back, is better by a wide margin, than most wrestlers 100 percent healthy.

Haines won his fourth title as well making him and Marsteller only the 11th and 12th in PIAA history to accomplish the feat.

Haines finished his stellar career with a 174-5 record. Ironically, Haines may never see the light of day as a starter at Ohio State with Kyle Snyder coming into the fold.

Snyder gave up his senior season to train at Colorado Springs, site of the Olympic training center. Snyder, who went undefeated in high school and has never been taken down, defeated Haines twice. The decisive wins were by major decision and tech fall at the Super 32 and Powerade tournaments.

Haines may have to go to 197 just to break the Buckeye lineup.

How hard is it to win a PIAA title?

Just ask Parkland’s Ethan Lizak, Hempfield Area’s Sam Krivus, Franklin Regional’s Tyler Smith, Father Judge’s Joe Galasso and Derry Area’s George Phillippi.

What do they all have in common? All were returning state champions who failed to repeat in 2014.

Next year we will have 11 returning or former state champs back. Seven of those will be in AAA and four in AA

Below is the list:

AAA

Devon Brown – Franklin Regional (106)
Spencer Lee – Franklin Regional (113)
Luke Pletcher – Greater Latrobe (120)
Cameron Coy – Penn Trafford (132)
Vincenzo Joseph – Pittsburgh Central Catholic (138)
Jan Johnson – Governor Mifflin (195)
Sam Krivus – Hempfield Area (120 in 2013)

AA

Jake Riegel – Bathlehem Catholic (106)
Luke Karam – Bethlehem Catholic (113)
Korbin Myers – Boiling Springs (120)
George Phillippi – Derry Area (113 in 2013)

Another high school wrestling season has come to a close. I’d like to thank everyone who supported MifflinCountyWrestling.com and for all the nice compliments I received for my first-time coverage of the Huskies on MERF Radio during the tournament trail. I truly appreciate it.

Don’t worry. Even though the season is over the site will still march on.

We will follow the youth wrestling all through the spring and summer when freestyle and greco kick into high gear.

Wrestling is now a year-round sport and as long as the Mifflin County kids are out there doing their thing, this site will have the coverage.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading.

Carson’s Corner: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

| February 14, 2014 | 4 Comments

Mug“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton

I have been itching to write this column for quite some time but didn’t want to interfere with Mifflin County’s season. With a lull in the action until districts, now seems the appropriate time to let it breathe.

The reasons for writing this particular piece have to do with the people who influenced me to become a sports writer and a fanatical wrestling fan. Without the individuals mentioned herein, this site would not exist and the sports writer bug would never have bitten me.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a love affair with sports. I spent many days in the backyard pretending I was a superstar NFL running back or the next Ted Williams or Willie Mays. I could do this all day, without a break, and time would fly.

Included in that love affair was my excitement listening to certain broadcasters or reading quality material from various sports writers.

There was Curt Gowdy, Lindsey Nelson, Ray Scott, Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier, Jack Buck and Hank Stram, Bob Prince, Harry Kalas, John Facenda  and of course, Howard Cosell.

Locally, it was Mr. Wrestling, Bob Hower. I started listening to Bob many moons ago and it led to my participation and love for the sport of wrestling. I would read his weekly columns with zeal and listen to his broadcasts religiously. It’s pretty cool years later, we became friends and collaborated at times throughout our careers, including this website. He is a well-deserved hall of famer.

After moving to Centre County during my teenage years, I would read everything written by Ron Bracken and Doug McDonald in the Centre Daily Times. I was like a kid in candy store. Because of this duo, the best wrestling coverage team ever put together, I decided to become a sports writer.

John Dixon was a major influence on me and after we met I realized we are so much alike it’s scary. We both like the Rams and UCLA basketball and we have the same dark sense of humor. J-Wally is not only an influence, but a great human being, and I’m proud to say a friend.

It was difficult not being able to listen to Bob up in Centre County, but I found Glenn Packer, along with Harris and John Lipez to fill the void. Like Hower, I’m proud to know John Lipez as well. It was a thrill when I found out he reads and likes the Mifflin County site. All of these men influenced me in some way. They are the reason I do what I do and I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.

One of the best things about being a sports writer is the people you meet along the way. From coaches, to fans, to the athletes, to the parents, and your colleagues.

In this business guys like Scott Franco, Jeff Sunderland, Buck Frank, Phil Cmor, Jackie Yingling, Greg Williams, Jeff Fishbein, Todd Irwin, Bill Albright, Kenny Varner. Mike Freeman of CBS Sports and many more too numerous to name have had an influence on me.

Franco, without question, is my mentor. He was the one who took a chance on me, with zero college education or writing experience, and let me learn the craft the only way it can be learned – by doing.  Thanks buddy for everything.

I am old enough to remember a world that didn’t have Internet, Facebook, Twitter, smart phones, satellite TV, personal computers or DVDs in it.

We had Pong, 8-Track tapes, radio, newspapers and about 12 television stations and sometimes you had to play around with the rabbit ears just to be able to watch!

God I’m getting old.

The 8-Track used to piss me off in a big way. I recall vividly cruising around town with my brother in his Barracuda (I’m sure Dave loved having his 13-year-old bro hanging around him, but he never complained), jamming out to the first Van Halen record. VH is still a great album after all these years.

Little Dreamer would be playing loud and proud and then the music would start to fade out. An annoying click I still hear in my mind’s eye whenever I play that song interrupted my musical experience and finally, a fade into the music again. How depressing. Killed the whole listening experience. I do not miss the 8-Track.

If you were a local sports fan, in particular a wrestling junkie in those days, Hower and company were your lifeline.

The mass media we have today was non-existent back then. People like Hower and Bracken were our source for sports news. There was no Intermat or Pennsylvania Wrestling News. No ESPN and multi-channel sports packages. Hower, Bracken and all the others were your source. Over time, you developed a relationship with them. They became an important part of your life.

They inspired me and it is my hope, in some small way, I can do the same for a new generation. If even one youngster decides to take up the sport or develop a love for writing, I did my job and know all this wasn’t in vain.

One of the worst things about becoming an adult is losing that wonderful imagination we had as kids.

Sometime I get nostalgic, think back on my younger years and how fresh and exciting it all was, and these individuals played no small part in that. Once in a while, I long for those years of wasted youth and the joys it brought me.

 Except for those damn 8-Tracks.

Carson’s Corner: Mifflin County’s Stock Rising After Powerade

| December 30, 2013 | 0 Comments

MugLife is all about perception.

Some take the glass-is-half-full approach, while others focus on that darned half-empty glass. I prefer the former.

After Mifflin County’s performance at the Powerade Tournament, the buzz surrounding the ever improving Huskies is turning into a very loud roar.

In arguably the toughest high school wrestling tournament in the country, Mifflin County placed four wrestlers in the top eight (after having zero seeds) and finished 27th out of 46 in the team standings.

If you are of the half empty bent, you will say more work needs to be done and that’s true, but the future is looking very bright for this young Huskies squad.

Hayden Hidlay (4th at 138), Noah Stewart (7th at 152), Trey Hartsock (8th at 182) and Timmy Pearce (8th at 195) led the Mifflin County contingent at Powerade. All four placed at King of the Mountain as well.

The Huskies finishing where they did without the services of Brandon Wilson, Tre Carter, Kyle Kahley, Keith Corson and Colton Craig is even more impressive.

If you can place at Powerade, you can hang with anybody in the country. Couple this with the performance at KOM and it isn’t hard to see how good this team can eventually be.

Confidence is a fragile, tricky hobgoblin. It comes and goes as it pleases and right now the Huskies confidence level is growing week to week. No more evidence is needed than head coach Kirby Martin’s comments to the Lewistown Sentinel:

“I expected to have some place-winners. I don’t like to put a number on how many, but I did really think we had some kids who could come here and place in spite of not having any seeded wrestlers.”

Expected. Not hoped. Expected.

If that isn’t a word filled with confidence, I don’t know what is?

Let’s look at some facts as we head into the meat of the season:

Only Central Mountain has a chance with them in District 6 and the gap between the schools is starting to widen in MC’s favor. Erie McDowell appears to be the top team in the Northwest Region with the Huskies not too far behind.

All that remains for Mifflin County is becoming a consistent state power. That will take patience, hard work and time – something the coaching staff and wrestlers have in spades.

Another important aspect of becoming a great team is banging heads against the best competition you can find. With Powerade, KOM and the always tough Mid-Penn Commonwealth schedule, which continues Thursday against Cumberland Valley, the Huskies will face some of the best this state has to offer.

All this is good, despite the bumps and bruises, it will make Mifflin County ‘Husky Tough’ when postseason action comes around.

And that’s not just looking at the glass as half full, that’s looking at the situation in the clear light of reality.

Powerade Leftovers

How about the 120-pound weight class at Powerade?

The bracket featured four state champions: Ethan Lizak (Parkland), Luke Pletcher (Greater Latrobe), George Phillippi (Derry) and Sean Collins of Georgia.

Pletcher eked out the 3-2 decision over Lizak in the finals and Phillippi, a freshman state champ last season, finished fifth!

That gives you a good example of how tough Powerade really is.

The only other matchup between two PIAA state champions saw Tyler Smith of Franklin Regional overwhelm Hempfield Area’s Sam Krivus by a 7-0 score.

Canon-McMillan’s Dalton Macri won the OW award with 8-6 decision over Ryan Millhoff of Georgia. Millhoff is a two-time state champ headed to Oklahoma State. Macri will continue his career at Cornell.

Franklin Regional captured the team race by crowning five champions and placing seven for 236.5 points. It’s easy to see who’s going to win Class AAA this year isn’t it? No team in PIAA history has ever produced five