Quartet of Franklin Regional wrestlers celebrate college decisions
Franklin Regional senior wrestlers Josh Maruca, Michael Kemerer, Devin Brown and Josh Shields all are listed high on Flowrestling’s recent national high school rankings.
Each have high expectations individually for their final varsity seasons with the Panthers, but the longtime friends and teammates also have high team goals.
To a man, the quartet spoke about the priority of helping Franklin Regional defend its WPIAL and PIAA titles.
With a strong team overall, the Panthers expect to be right in the mix for both.
Last week, Maruca, Kemerer, Brown and Shields came together to finalize a collection of journeys lined with hard work, focus and determination.
All four inked spots at three of the top Division I wrestling programs.
Maruca and Shields made their decisions binding with Arizona State, while Brown did the same with West Virginia.
Kemerer, a three-time PIAA runner-up, will be wrestling at Iowa.
It all was part of the National Letter of Intent early signing period for wrestling and several other high school sports. The period is one week in length and ended Wednesday.
“It’s a relief to have this process over with. The process takes a while. Now we can relax and focus on wrestling and this upcoming season,” Kemerer said.
“It says a lot about the community and support system around us that helped put us in this situation. So many people, from our parents to coaches to teammates, have helped. We owe a lot to a lot of people.”
Shields and Maruca said they’re excited to make the next step in their athletic and academic journeys together.
“It’s a plus to have a teammate out there who I’ve known for such a long time. We can go through the new experiences together. It will be a nice thing,” said Maruca, who medaled at states his first three varsity seasons.
Maruca, Shields and Brown attended last Thursday’s nonconference dual match between Arizona State and West Virginia, and the Sun Devils outlasted the Mountaineers, 19-13.
“In a way, (the recruiting process) was fun because you get to do something not many people get to experience,” said Shields, a PIAA AAA runner-up in 2014 who finished his junior year 41-5.
“At the same time, you’re relieved because you see all the hard work pay off. The journey isn’t over for any of us. In some ways, it’s just begun. There are always challenges to face.”
Brown knew all about the West Virginia wrestling program after spending several summer camps there. The two-time PIAA 106-pound champ said he couldn’t pass up the chance to compete for the Mountaineers. He said making his decision final and being able to share the moment with his Panthers teammates was special.
“This is a group of guys I’ve known for a long time,” Brown said.
“We’re going different places next year, but we have one more year together. We want to make it the best.”
Kemerer, Maruca, Shields and Brown enter the season with a combined varsity record of 492-56. Kemerer is 118-7, Brown is 132-10, Shields is 122-18, and Maruca is 120-21.
“It’s great to have younger wrestlers see what hard work and determination can accomplish,” Franklin Regional head wrestling coach Eric Mausser said.
“They have led by example the whole way. They go back down to the elementary school program and volunteer. They understand how important they are to the overall wrestling program at Franklin Regional. They love to help teach those younger wrestlers how to wrestle and how to win.”
Franklin Regional opens its season Dec. 6 at the St. Edwards (Ohio) Duals.
“It’s extremely special,” Mausser said.
“It’s a spectacular class. Usually, one or two (Division I recruits) is pretty special. To have four is unheard of. They’ve worked very hard for it, and it’s well deserved.”
Michael Love is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5825 or at [email protected].