Archive

ShareThis Page
Highlands wrestling appears healthy after board vote; will compete as independent | TribLIVE.com
News

Highlands wrestling appears healthy after board vote; will compete as independent

Tribune-Review
| Sunday, November 9, 2014 10:47 p.m

Highlands wrestling coach Grant Walters admits it’s almost surreal to see where the team was when preseason conditioning began two weeks ago.

The Golden Rams, whose program came within a school board vote of being eliminated last month, had 41 wrestlers — the most in school history — when conditioning began. Two weeks later, all but one of the wrestlers remain, and Walters said he believes he might see more as the season approaches.

“I think they see what I see, and I think they understand being the largest wrestling team ever in Highlands history is something special,” Walters said. “They can be a part of it.”

In recent years, Highlands’ wrestling program struggled because of a lack of interest. Two years ago, six wrestlers came out for the team, Walters said. That number jumped to 30 at the start of the 2013-14 season, but only 13 wrestlers remained at the end of the campaign.

Because of those problems, Highlands School Board voted last month on whether to suspend the program. The board’s vote was 4-4, leaving the wrestling program intact for the 2014-15 season.

Highlands will compete independent of a WPIAL section this season, as it did last season, but the Rams are making preparations to return to the WPIAL in 2015-16.

“The status this year is it’s going to be very similar to last year,” Highlands athletic director Chuck Debor said. “I contacted the WPIAL offices and made the steps that we need to go through to be placed in a section for next year.”

As an independent, Highlands can compete in dual meets against WPIAL teams and in tournaments but won’t be eligible for the WPIAL team playoffs. The Rams competed as an independent last season, finishing 6-12.

“It’ll never compare to a section feel, where you have dual matches (with) your local rivals — Valley, Burrell,” Walters said. “You’ll never get that feeling doing it as an independent thing. But as a competition level, I think that we hit a lot of hard teams last year and stood our ground pretty well for getting the team together, getting the team started and having to teach kids who had never wrestled before how to wrestle. I think we did excellent.”

Of Highlands’ 40 wrestlers, 36 are freshmen or sophomores, Walters said. Underclassmen Cameron Clark, John Coward, Richard Fox and Kain Toy have stepped up as team leaders, he said.

“This team has the potential to stay together,” he said. “They’re going to be a force two years from now. I love the feeling of having the underdogs, no big standouts. Everybody plays a part. I like that.”

After the turmoil of recent seasons, Walters said he sees a bright future for Highlands wrestling. He said there is an independent junior high program for the first time in four years, while the elementary program also is going strong.

“I’m extremely invested in this program,” Walters said. “We’re going to keep this thing around, and keep it going. And it’s finally actually coming to where we’re getting support from our board, getting support from our new athletic director, and they’re all for it.

“Everything’s starting to come together, and the support we’re getting from everybody is phenomenal.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.