PIAA Track/Field recap: Two more medals for Conway

OV’s Kemp claims 3200 bronze; Coudy’s Freeman, NoPo relay team also medal

Port Allegany senior Nick Conway on his two PIAA fourth-place finishes, making him a four-time state medalist overall: “It was worth it. It was worth every bit of it. I'll walk out of here with medals on, take a picture and head  home.”

Port Allegany senior Nick Conway on his two PIAA fourth-place finishes, making him a four-time state medalist overall: “It was worth it. It was worth every bit of it. I’ll walk out of here with medals on, take a picture and head
home.”

Lori Chase
May 30, 2013

Nick Conway stepped down off the medal stand, gingerly walked back across the Shippensburg University football field, placed his hardware from the 300-meter hurdles into his backpack, and started loosening up for his next high jump attempt.

There was still more work to be done.

It was evident, though, that the Port Allegany senior’s busy schedule during the second day of the PIAA Track and Field Championships had taken its toll. Exhausted and sore from his third hurdles race of the day, he was successful on his second attempt at 6 feet, 2 inches, but 6-4 – a height he’d easily cleared at districts last week – was out of reach, leaving him tied for 10th in the event to go along with fourth-place finishes in both the 110 and 300.

“I’m guessing he’s probably a little disappointed. His goals were higher,” Port coach George Riley said. “His events were just crunched together, and when you’ve got to run three really fast races and try to high jump all within a two-hour window … Still pretty outstanding, two fourths, not bad at all. I just know it’s not what he wanted to do. But he’s going to go on and have a great college career at St. Francis.”

Conway’s Saturday morning began with placing fourth overall in the 110 semifinals, then matching that finish in the final with a time of 14.80 seconds, .03 faster than his third-place time from last year’s state meet. From there, it was off to the high jump, where both he and Gator teammate Tyce Miller cleared 5-10 and 6-0 before Conway had to leave for the 300 finals. While the rest of the jumpers stretched and relaxed, it was another fast race (40.25 seconds) and another trip to the medal stand for Conway – with a meet official waiting to hustle him back over to jump again.

“It was a long day at best,” he said. “I was trying to run 14.8 consistently, 14.7, below that, twice in a row. It takes a lot out of you. I kept hitting hurdles and my knee’s all bruised up now. And then the 300s, that was tough. I don’t even know what time I ran. I felt like I was going to jail – the lady came over and took me away before I even saw what time I ran.

“I was surprised I came back and got 6-2, really. It’s kind of upsetting that I was ranked No. 1 and didn’t get to place, but that’s high jump. It’s being consistent, and on a windy day like this, the bar doesn’t even hold itself up. It was a struggle. I got it on the second one, but at 6-4, I kept hitting it on the way up. Last week I got 6-7 on fresh legs. Definitely not fresh legs here; this was the last thing I did. But I knew it would feel this way. It is what it is.”

Although Conway fell short in his quest to join ‘Chip’ O’Malley (shot put, 1978) and Heather Amell (400-meter dash, 1991) as Port Allegany’s only track state champs, his legacy is secure in the pages of the PAHS record book, where he erased longstanding marks in both hurdles events (14.64 seconds in the 110, 39.17 in the 300), the 200-meter dash (22.4), and the high jump (6 feet, 7 inches).

“6-7’s not going to be touched. That’s going to be there for a while,” Riley said.

With his long day finally over, Conway pulled both medals out of his bag and put them on, then gathered up the rest of his gear.

“It was worth it. It was worth every bit of it,” he said. “I’ll walk out of here with medals on, take a picture and head home.”

He adjusted his grip on the strap of his backpack, and then, medals clinking together with each step, he headed for the gate.

***

Five other Gator athletes made the trip to states along with Riley and assistant coach Dan Eskesen. Friday evening, with twilight closing in and the remaining spectators huddled in the bleachers against the unseasonably cool temperatures and gusting winds, the 4×400-meter relay team of Miller, Tyler Kittilson, Sam Kysor and Josh Poorman finished seventh in their preliminary heat and 28th overall, improving three spots from their No. 31 seed. On Saturday, Miller tied for 15th in the high jump at 6-0.

“I think the guys had fun,” Riley said. “Tyce hit what he usually hits, six feet. Once in a while he gets 6-2. The boys ran their 4-by-4. It was slow” – their time of 3:47.26 was 12 seconds behind last week’s record-setting run at districts – “but it was also brutally cold and 35-mile-an-hour winds. We wanted to be better than what we came in at and we wanted to reset the school record, which weather conditions just didn’t allow. But they put forth the effort, they worked hard all week, and they got here.

“Special thanks to Scotty Brookens for coming down. He didn’t participate, he came down as an alternate in case Sam had to play baseball Friday night or somebody got hurt. I appreciate all the effort he put in this week, and all year. He was at every practice, he was trying to get his 400 time down so it was part of the team. He worked hard, and then he got to watch it from the bleachers – and he never ever whined about it one minute. Shoutout to him, because not too many kids would give up a week of time and three days down here.”

Reflecting on the 2013 season as a whole, Riley couldn’t complain about the results, which included the boys’ sixth straight North Tier League championship.

“All in all, I think we had a pretty decent year. You can’t say you didn’t have a decent year when you bring a kid to states and he goes home with medals. But this coach didn’t have a whole lot to do with that,” he said with a laugh.

“Hunter Conway is a decent, very good high jump/hurdle coach. Watching the interaction through the last few years with him and those kids, watching the hand signals that were being sent to the kids from behind the fence because coaches aren’t allowed anywhere near the kids during their events … He got the best out of them, and hopefully he’ll come back and help out again next year.

“Back-to-back runner-up at districts, six championships in a row. Hopefully we can keep that rolling along.”

***

Seven other NTL athletes also earned PIAA medals last weekend, led by Barrett Kemp’s third-place finish of 9:19.08 in the 3200-meter run.

“It feels really good,” the Oswayo Valley standout said. “I got third two years ago, and all I wanted to do was improve on that. But that was the fastest race I’ve ever run right there, so I can’t complain.”

Coudersport’s Mitch Freeman also medaled for the second time, throwing the discus 155 feet, 0 inches to place sixth in Class AA.

“I was hoping for top-three, but those guys were throwing pretty far. I was happy with sixth – improved from last year when I got seventh,” he said.

“I’ve never been to this state track when it’s been cold, and it was really windy. That definitely affected everybody – it was stopping the disc a little bit – but I still got some nice throws out there. Good way to finish up my career. I had four throws up in the 150s, so I was pretty happy with that.”

The Northern Potter boys 4×800-meter relay team of Matt Morgan, Aaron Schweigart, Ethan Kibbe, and Aaron Olney finished sixth in 8:15.32 – inches behind fifth-place Northeast Bradford (8:15.10) – for their moment on the medal stand, while Sheffield’s Jen Isenberg threw the javelin 123 feet, 10 inches to earn seventh place.

Freeman’s Falcon teammate, Jenna Gabreski, finished 14th in the triple jump with a distance of 35 feet, 3/4 inches. Gabe Rees (OV), seeded 19th going into the boys 3200, finished 17th in 10:05.55, and OV’s 4×800 relay team of Spencer Cole, Spencer Howard, Kemp, and Rees finished 10th in their qualifying heat.

Big 30 Press Day

The 40th annual Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic will have a distinct Gator presence.

Following a stellar 2012 season that included a second straight District 9 championship, plus a trip to the state semifinals, Victor Bandish, Matt Bodamer, Rickie Bova, Nick Budd, Nick Conway, Alex Gular, Tyce Miller, and Rex Windsor have all been selected to play for a Pennsylvania squad coached by Mike Bodamer and assistants Justin Bienkowski, Jason Luther, and Nate Zitnik. Add cheerleaders Caitlyn Bachman, Sara Borro, Kelsey Kio, and Caitlyn Lindsay and Homecoming queen Gabby Drabert, and the odds are good that quite a few people from Port Allegany will be headed to Bradford on Saturday, August 3, for the Big 30 parade and game.

The coaching staffs for the game were introduced at Press Day on May 19, with Bodamer and Allegany-Limestone’s Chad Lyter addressing the crowd of players and parents in the Pitt-Bradford gym.

“I’ve been involved in a few other games, and it was a wonderful experience,” said Bodamer, who assisted Bob Haskins during Pennsy wins in 1994 and 2004. “The main idea of this game, of course, is for charity. It’s a great organization that has helped a lot of people in this area. This is going to be a fun game and I know we’re going to try our hardest, but in the end, win, lose, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is the charity, so as much as you can do, please support that charity.”

Later, while the other participants were posing for photographs, Bodamer – who graciously submitted to every media request despite still being in a walking boot while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon – talked about joining so many of his players on the Pennsylvania sideline.

“It’s just an honor,” he said. “Not only Matt, but the other seven kids – I’ve known them since they’ve been in grade school, and they’ve been around my house forever. They’re all like my kids.”

With a roster stacked with the Gators’ record-setting offensive players, along with talent from other schools, fans can expect to see some points on the board on game night.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that want the ball and only one football, so I don’t know how that’s going to go,” Bodamer said, smiling. “They definitely loaded us up on skill, but we’re lacking offensive linemen. I told Matt he might be running a little more often, and the kid from Warren (quarterback Austin Jerman) is a great athlete too. So I think we’ll be all right.”

Luther and Zitnik will handle the offense, while Bodamer and Bienkowski will coach the D.

“That’s his offense. He’s been working on it for the last three years,” Bodamer said of Luther, the Gators’ offensive coordinator. “He knows what he’s doing, so let him do his thing. The kid from Warren runs basically the same type of offense, so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal for him. We’ve got a couple great backs. Hopefully (Caden) Whitman can stay healthy, and the kid from Eisenhower (John Pascuzzi) is a big-time runner.”

Lyter, a Bradford native, was equally thrilled about the chance to participate.

“This is a big deal, so I was real excited about it,” he said. “I just told the kids, my first thought was that I was honored to do it. My next thought was just to make sure my guys could coach with me – if they were in, I was in. We’re all excited to be here. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Although he hasn’t seen Port play, he joked, “I figure they’re going to throw the ball a lot.”

“I told him there’s a 25-minute video of Matt on YouTube, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find tape on us,” Bodamer said.

But as he noted during his remarks, win or lose, the game is still a great experience.

“We’ll just go and play the game, hopefully score and have some fun,” he said.

Conway triples, Gator boys 2nd at D9 T/F Championships

Lori Chase
May 23, 2013

The 2013 District 9 Class AA track and field championships ended as they began on Friday night, with a new Port Allegany High School record clinching a trip to the state meet in Shippensburg. But while the only drama in the first result was whether or not Nick Conway would also break the D-9 high-jump mark on the way to the first of his three gold medals, the last one came down to the final few steps of the final race of the night.

After dropping behind the lead runners at the start of the anchor leg of the 1600-meter relay, and still in fourth coming out of the last curve, Port’s Josh Poorman made his move. Passing runners from Northern Potter and Kane in the final 75 meters, he crossed the line in second place – and a school record 3:34.59, shattering the old mark by a full second – to grab the last PIAA qualifying spot of the meet and set off a celebration with teammates Tyce Miller, Tyler Kittilson, and Sam Kysor.

“I kind of just listened to Coach when he told me to kick it in,” Poorman said. “They tried boxing me in, and you can’t get boxed in or else you’re done. I was like, ‘I gotta go.’ The thought went through my head that the kid from Northern Potter’s beaten me twice and I don’t want to lose again, so I just kicked it in.”

Port coach George Riley, who sprinted across the Kane High School track to join the group hug in the infield, was still on Cloud Nine afterward.

“I couldn’t believe that he fell behind as quick as he did, and I thought, ‘Wow, maybe we’re just done,’” he said. “And then the same Josh we saw last week at the NTLs is the one that came out of the corner and went and got it. It was just impressive. The whole team was impressive. Nobody was at 55 (seconds), they were all below 55 for their splits, which is what we said we had to have for the record.

“Tyce ran a good first leg, around 53 at the exchange. T.K. ran a beautiful – I think his fastest 400. Sammy, who’s only run a couple of 400s, was under 55, which was a godsend. And then Josh finishing strong. He wanted it. He’s got the biggest heart on the team.

“And we’re going to states!”

Kysor, a late replacement, didn’t even know he was running until that morning.

“7:21,” he said with a grin. “Just got out of the shower and I get a call from Mr. Riley: ‘Hey, you want to run tonight?’ So I’ve known about this race for about 12 hours now. That’s got to be a record in itself.”

Earlier in the meet, Conway cleared the high-jump bar at 6 feet, 7 inches – seven inches past Miller, the only other entrant to make it to six feet – to better his own PAHS standard before coming up just short at his attempts to break the 1999 district mark of 6-8.

“I’ve been trying 6-6 for the past couple meets now,” Conway said, “and things just went together, I guess. On that 6-7, they said I could’ve gotten 6-8 or 6-9, but I couldn’t repeat that on the following jump.”

The 1-2 Gator finish earned both seniors a trip to states – Conway’s third, Miller’s first.

“That was nice. We’ve been imagining that all year, and it worked out in our favor,” Conway said.

“It was awesome,” agreed Miller, who also finished fourth in the 400, “and it’s great to be going in the relay too.”

Conway’s gold rush didn’t end there, as the Division I-bound star defended his titles in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and added silver in the 200 to claim the James Manners Award as the meet’s outstanding male athlete.

“Something I never imagined would happen, but it feels great,” said the six-time D-9 champ who, with a decent chance to earn Port’s first PIAA gold since Heather Amell won the 400 in 1991, has opted to scratch from the 200 to conserve energy for his main events.

While no other Gators will be making the long trip to compete in Shippensburg, Rex Windsor (fifth, discus), Lynae Delacour (third, 300 hurdles), Krista Miller (fourth, 800 and sixth, 400), and Rachel Taylor (fourth, shot put) each had their moment on the medal stand, the girls’ 1600 relay team came within two-tenths of a second of yet another school record, and the boys finished second to Kane in team scoring for the second consecutive year. Brookville, led by two-time Manners Award recipient Lanae Newsome, won the girls’ title, while Port’s tie for ninth was the best showing by a North Tier League team.

“I said a week or so ago that one kid could go to states or 11, and we got five,” Riley said. “We didn’t achieve the perfect goal (a team district championship), but we’ve got five kids going to states.”

District IX Class AA Championships
Kane High School, May 17

Boys: Kane 80.5, Port Allegany 61, Brookville 54, Clarion 47, Oswayo Valley 43, Karns City/Northern Potter 38 (tie), ECC 31, Johnsonburg/North Clarion 30 (tie), Union 24, Moniteau 22, Sheffield 15, Redbank Valley 13.5, Coudersport 12, Keystone 7, Cameron County/Otto-Eldred 5 (tie), Allegheny-Clarion Valley 2.

Top-6 North Tier League finishers:
200: 2. Nick Conway (PA) 23.32, 4. Dylan Reynolds (Sh) 23.98
400: 4. Tyce Miller (PA) 52.94
800: 2. Ethan Kibbe (NP) 2:01.60, 3. Matt Morgan (NP) 2:02.59, 6. Spencer Howard (OV) 2:06.03
1600: 3. Spencer Cole (OV) 4:45.09, 5. Gabe Trimbur (C) 4:54.08
3200: 1. Barrett Kemp (OV) 9:38.28, 2. Gabe Rees (OV) 10:03.01, 3. Caleb Byron (NP) 10:14.39, 4. Cole (OV) 10:22.82, 5. Tim Adams (NP) 10:23.92
400 relay: 6. Port Allegany (Josh Poorman, Gage Caulkins, Scott Brookens, Tyler Kittilson) 46.19
1600 relay: 2. Port Allegany (Miller, Kittilson, Sam Kysor, Poorman) 3:34.59*, 3. Northern Potter (Morgan, Kibbe, Aaron Olney, Aaron Schweigart) 3:35.39
3200 relay: 1. Northern Potter (Morgan, Schweigart, Kibbe, Olney) 8:14.04, 2. Oswayo Valley (Cole, Howard, Kemp, Rees) 8:19.98
110 hurdles: 1. Conway (PA), 15.15
300 hurdles: 1. Conway (PA) 39.63, 6. Adam Farmelo (O-E) 43.89
long jump: 2. Reynolds (Sh) 20-1 3/4, 5. Coy Hoffman (OV) 19-6 3/4
triple jump: 5. Ryan Matviichuk (OV) 39-9 3/4
high jump: 1. Conway (PA) 6-7*, 2. Miller (PA) 6-0, 5. Shequan Wright (Sh) 5-8, 6. Adam Higby (Sh) 5-8
shot put: 6. C.J. Markum (CC) 41-5 3/4
discus: 1. Mitch Freeman (C) 156-4, 4. Markum (CC) 127-11, 5. Rex Windsor (PA) 127-9
javelin: 4. Justin Zetwick (O-E) 161-4, 5. Ryan West (OV) 158-3.

Girls: Brookville 98, Kane 73, ECC 70, Karns City 63, Johnsonburg 53, St. Marys 39, Clarion 27, Cranberry 20, Redbank Valley/Port Allegany 16 (tie), DCC/Moniteau 14 (tie), North Clarion 12, Allegheny-Clarion Valley 11, Curwensville 10, Northern Potter 8, Coudersport 6, Sheffield 4, Clarion-Limestone/Otto-Eldred 2 (tie).

Top-6 North Tier League finishers:
400: 6. Krista Miller (PA) 1:03.17
800: 4. Miller (PA) 2:27.42
1600: 6. Ellen Kibbe (NP) 5:45.03
3200: 3. Morgan Soule (NP) 12:01.84
400 relay: 6. Otto-Eldred (Kirsten Hahn, Katie Smith, Ashley Schoonover, Kylie Stuck) 53.62
1600 relay: 6. Port Allegany (Miller, Rebecca Lathrop, Lynae Delacour, Somer Buchsenschutz) 4:18.92
3200 relay: 6. Northern Potter (Amelia Kibbe, Taryn Bennett, Alexis Adams, E. Kibbe) 10:31.93
300 hurdles: 3. Delacour (PA) 49.26
long jump: 5. Jenna Gabreski (C) 15-9 1/2
triple jump: 4. Gabreski (C) 35-7q
shot put: 4. Rachel Taylor (PA) 33-7
javelin: 4. Jen Isenberg (Sh) 127-1q, 6. Mariah Hartzell (O-E) 105-8.

* – PAHS record
q – PIAA qualifier (outside top two)

PIAA Track and Field Championships May 24-25

(press release from PIAA.org)

MECHANICSBURG, PA: The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) celebrates its 40th Girls’ and 89th Boys’track competitions with the 2013 Championship meet at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania this Friday, May 24 and Saturday, May 25, 2013. Shippensburg University has served as continuous host of the championships since 1976. Competition begins Friday morning at 9:00 am with track and field events being held concurrently throughout the day. Saturday’s competition is also scheduled to begin at 9:00 am. A detailed time schedule is available for all events at http://www.piaa.org.

Ticketsfor the Championships are available each day of competition at Shippensburg University at a cost of $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for students(K‐12) on Friday. Saturday ticket prices are $8.00 and $4.00 for adults and students, respectively. In addition, series tickets valid for both days of competition are available in advance on‐line from Ticketleap at http://piaa.ticketleap.com.

Television coverage of the event is available on a tape delayed basis from the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) beginning at 5:00pm on Saturday. In addition, PCN will provide live web streaming of Saturday’s events through their website. A detailed schedule of PCN’s broadcast times and the web stream is available at http://www.pcntv.com.

The Track and Field Championships is the largest PIAA event for participants, with over 2,600 student-athletes competing this year over the four classifications. Qualification of those athletes is determined by place and/or exceeding qualifying standards at each of the 12 District Championships sponsored regionally across the state this past week. Champions will be crowned in each of the 18 events contested in AA and AAA girls and boys, respectively, as well as overall team championship awards in each of the classifications.

Join us Friday and Saturday and witness future Olympic hopefuls such as past PIAA Champions Hyleas Fountain (Central Dauphin East), Lauryn Williams (Rochester), Tony Darden (Norristown), and Leroy Burrell (Pennwood).

PENNSYLVANIA INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION TRACK AND FIELD RECORDS
2013 PIAA TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE

Port A staff to coach Pennsy squad in 40th Raabe Classic

As first announced by Port Allegany head football coach Mike Bodamer at the postseason banquet in January, he and his staff have been invited to coach the Pennsylvania squad in the 40th annual Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic. The full press release:

The Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic announced the coaches for the 40th annual Big 30 Classic to be played at Bradford’s Parkway Field on Saturday, August 3, 2013.

The coaching staff for the New York All Stars will be directed by Chad Lyter, head coach of football at Allegany-Limestone Central School. He will be assisted by Eric Hemphill, Glenn Anderson and Paul Furlong.

Chad is a resident of Allegany and has taught biology/ anatomy and physiology at the school for 31 years. He has been head football coach for four years and was an assistant for 15 years prior to that. He has also been head boys basketball coach for 16 years, boys JV for six years, girls modified and girls JV basketball for one year each. Chad and his wife Geraldine have three children, Kristen, 28; Brian, 26 and Katie, 17.

Eric Hemphill played football and basketball at ALCS. He is in his third year as head baseball coach and has been an assistant football coach for five years. Eric is employed at Dresser-Rand in Olean.

Glenn Anderson is a Physical Education teacher at ALCS and is currently the head varsity boys’ basketball coach. He has been an assistant football coach at the school for nine years.

Paul Furlong has been a physical education teacher at ALCS for five years. He returns to the Gators as girls head softball coach. He previously was the head football coach here and at Salamanca Central School over the last three years and had been an assistant football coach for 12 years.

The Pennsylvania team will be coached by the Port Allegany staff that took their team deep into the state playoffs in 2012.

Mike Bodamer has been a teacher at Port Allegany for 25 years. He has been head coach of varsity football for eight years and worked as an assistant for 13 years prior to that. Mike and his wife Judy have 3 children; Samantha, 23; Ryan, 21 and Matt, 18. They reside in Port Allegany.

Jason Luther is a resident of Portville, NY and has been an elementary teacher for five years. He has been an assistant coach for five years as well. Jason and his wife Amanda have two children; Caleb, 9 and Averi, a newborn.

Nate Zitnik is also an elementary education teacher and has been for seven years. He has been an assistant coach of football for all of those seven years and has been head coach of baseball for the Gators for the last five years. Nate is single and lives in Roulette.

Justin Bienkowski has taught high school social studies at Port Allegany for 10 years. He has been an assistant football coach for nine years. Justin and his wife Ashley are the parents of a two-year-old daughter, Sophia.

All the coaches, players, cheerleaders, homecoming queens and mascots will be introduced to the media and to the public on Press Day and Family Appreciation Day on May 19, 2013 at McDowell Athletic Center on the Campus of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Registration will begin at 10:30 a.m. followed by a brief orientation for all participants in the game. A brunch will then be made available in the dining hall after which players will be fitted with their game uniforms and then made available to the press and to parents and the public for photos and interviews. Players are asked to bring their pads and cheerleaders their uniforms. Queens should bring their dresses. Facilities for changing clothes will be available.

Budd signs NLI to wrestle at Gannon

Lori Chase
May 16, 2013

Last winter, Nick Budd was among several Port Allegany wrestlers who made a trip to Erie to watch former Gator teammate Adam Greenman compete for Gannon University.

Next year, Budd will be joining him.

After a glittering high school career that included All-State honors in both football and wrestling, leaving him with several collegiate options in both sports, the PIAA 285-pound silver medalist has signed a National Letter of Intent with the Golden Knights to continue his career on the mat.

“Up until I placed (at states), I was very up in the air about it. I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do,” he said. “And then after placing second, it kind of made up my mind for me as far as going to school and wanting to wrestle while I was there.”

Budd hit it off immediately with veteran Gannon head coach Don Henry on his visit.

“He’s an extremely nice guy, great personality, very friendly. Definitely one of the factors in wanting to go there,” he said. “I heard from several schools, had several different offers. But it came down to Gannon – it was close to home, and like I said, the coaching staff was really nice.”

After that initial meeting, Henry – a three-time NCAA Division II Super Regional One Coach of the Year with a strong history of mentoring All-Americans both on the mat and in the classroom – kept a close eye on the 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior, and was “really excited” when he decided to become a Golden Knight.

“I didn’t really know how good he was going to be this year, but I knew he was a big guy and we were going to be looking for a heavyweight. So he got on the radar there, and obviously when he did so well during the season and at states, that really sparked our interest,” he said.

“He’s going to come in with a chip on his shoulder because the last match that he wrestled in high school was a loss. That makes him a dangerous person; he’s got more to prove. A lot of the guys that we have are wrestlers of that same attitude: They come into college, they have something to prove. They didn’t accomplish everything they wanted to at the high school level. That’s what makes them better. They have more drive than the guys that had the higher accolades to start.”

Port Allegany head coach B.J. Greenman, Adam’s older brother, had already seen that intensity in Budd.

“He was actually the first kid I worked with when I got back from college in 2009, which was his freshman year. He was off with an injury from football and couldn’t wrestle at the beginning of the season, so we basically just lifted every day. I got to really know Nick and to see his work ethic,” Greenman said. “He wasn’t going to let his injury hold him back, and it didn’t. And it carried on throughout his career – he was in the weight room every single night the whole summer, going to wrestle every day. I think that’s what you need to be able to wrestle at the next level; he saw that at an early age, and it definitely paid off for him.

“He was back in the weight room the Monday after states. Coach Henry’s definitely lucky to be getting him.”

Nick, the son of Greg and Melynda Budd, began wrestling in the Junior Olympic program when he was nine, with his father helping to coach him ever since. A three-time Big 30 All-Star whose 100th victory came in his PIAA-qualifying third-place win at the Northwest Regional, he finished his career with a 103-22 record. Also a two-time All-State selection and Big 30 All-Star in football and the 2012 recipient of the Olean Times Herald ‘Unsung Lineman Award’ for the back-to-back District 9 champs, Budd plans to major in mechanical engineering, which may have worked in Gannon’s favor when he made his decision.

“He’s a bright kid. He wanted to go to school for engineering, and there really aren’t a lot of schools that have wrestling and engineering that you can concentrate on both unless he was going to go Ivy League or Division I,” Henry said. “I was more worried about him playing football than other schools taking him for wrestling.”

Henry – the only coach Gannon has known since he was hired to restart the Golden Knights’ wrestling program in 1984 – expects Budd to contribute right away.

“He should be the man. I recruited him to be the starter,” he said, noting that due to injuries at that weight class last season, “We had to go out and get a quality heavyweight that can make an immediate impact.”

One of Gannon’s most successful alumni, three-time All-American heavyweight Todd Proper, will be part of that process.

“Todd was there to meet Nick when he came for the visit, and said, ‘Hey, I want to make you our next outstanding heavyweight,’” Henry said. “And it was the truth – we want to get him to the point where he’s going to be an All-American, where he’s going to be challenging for a national championship eventually. He needs to have good workout partners; he needs to have big guys to work out with.

“We say that steel sharpens steel. We want him to be challenged. Todd Proper is about 320 right now, so if Nick can push him around, he’s not going to have too much trouble pushing someone around that’s 285.”

Coach Greenman, not that far removed from his own collegiate career, believes the future is bright for Budd.

“I think there’ll be that learning curve – it’s a huge change in style and intensity. So I think he might take some lumps his freshman year,” he said. “But his body frame is ideal for a heavyweight in college. He’s athletic. He’s stronger than anybody I’ve ever wrestled with in my life, even including our heavyweight in college. So I think once he gets used to the style of wrestling and the intensity, he’s limitless. I think he has the ability to be an All-American, and I really hope to be able to go to D-II nationals and watch him, and maybe even watch my brother wrestle at the same time.”

Gannon recently joined the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, where they compete against fellow Division II schools Mercyhurst, Kutztown, Shippensburg, East Stroudsburg, and Millersville and also get to see the D-I programs at Bloomsburg, Edinboro, Clarion, and Lock Haven.

The PSAC has a long and proud history in the sport, typically placing schools in the Top 20 rankings in both divisions and sending multiple wrestlers to nationals. Ridgway’s Zach Zelcs was one of those qualifiers this season, placing eighth at the D-II finals to become Gannon’s 22nd All-American under Henry.

Budd is looking forward to becoming part of that tradition.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to go wrestle at the next level. When I was little, wrestling J.O.’s, I always thought it would be a great experience. I’d see all the different names in college wrestling, and I always wanted to be one of those guys. So I’m really excited to go try it.”