Wrestlers head off to District Friday

Tim Whaling
Positioning himself above his opponent, senior Alex Pankhurst attempts to push his opponent out of the ring.

Jazmine Longridge

Coming off a big win against Rouse 49-6 Jan. 28, the varsity wrestling team is headed into District at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Delco Center, with finals starting at 11:30 a.m Saturday. Rouse is new to the wrestling District and had a few of their top wrestlers injured at the meet, but they will be competing in District.

“Our goals are to win our third straight District Title, and try to repeat as Regional Champs, which will be tough since we might be open at a weight class or two,” head coach Pat O’Harra said.

The highlight of this season was the Lunchroom Brawl on Jan. 14, which was held in the Chap Court during fourth and fifth lunches. Cheerleaders walked around gathering donations for the Special Olympics team to buy T-shirts for the upcoming track season. In the past, this meeting with Vista Ridge was held in the Ninth Grade Center gym, so moving it into the Chap Court brought in a much bigger student audience.

“To have that many students right next to the mat in that loud and exciting setting was the coolest thing I have ever been associated with in over 20 years of wrestling,” O’Harra said. “I have gotten tons of positive feedback from students and staff alike.”

Returning State Champ sophomore Jack Skudlarczyk had surgery on Dec. 22 on his meniscus, will he is back for District. Jack wrestled more than 70 matches in off-season, including a national tournament in Las Vegas and the Nationals in Fargo, ND.

“I am excited to see how hard I can push myself,” Jack said. “This year will be the hardest year to win State for me. Back to back State titles are hard to do, and an injury makes it just a little harder.”

Captain junior Hunter Hershey, who placed fifth in Regional last year, making him the State alternate, has a current record of 30-4. Hunter has spent all season preparing for State, running six times a week to help manage his weight. Hunter beat Riley Jacobs in the Vandergrift duel Jan. 7, which was a huge highlight of his season considering Riley got fifth in State last year and is predicted to do better this year.

“It just feels like a real accomplishment to say ‘I beat Riley’ because it reassures me that I’m one of the top wrestlers in the state,” Hunter Hershey said.

Returning sophomore Hunter Roberts has been working hard in practices and also with his outside trainer along with doing crossfit, with a current record of 29-4. Last year Hunter was seeded second in the State tournament, having previously beaten every opponent in the District and Regional tournaments. He had won his first match in the State Tournament, but losing the third match eliminated him. Although last year ended quite abruptly, Hunter has done everything he can this season to be the best he can be. He believes only a greater good waits for him this year.

“I feel confident,” Hunter Roberts said. “Knowing I’ve done everything I could up to this point puts me in a safe zone. Win or lose, I know I could not change anything because when I step on the mat, I will take everything with me — my hard work, dedication, sweat, mental and physical strength, and the motivation from the pressure.”