For David Lucykanish, there's never been a question whether or not he would be a wrestler.
The Lehighton Area High School senior has a great role model when it comes to the sport. His father, Dave, was a three-time PIAA State qualifier at Palmerton High School and a two-time medalist.
The elder Lucykanish is the Blue Bombers' only State wrestling champion, winning the title at 138 pounds in 1987.
That is a tough act to follow, to be sure, but David has accomplished a lot in upholding the family mat tradition.
On Jan. 16, at the Indian Duals, Lucykanish registered four victories, including the 100th of his career when he defeated Richie Jasinksi of Pennridge, a Class AAA State qualifier, for a 4-1 decision.
David not only became the third Lehighton wrestler to join the Century Club, along with Derek Brownmiller (123) and Steve Hawk (109), he has created the first father-son 100 win combination in THE TIMES NEWS area.
"I'm one behind him now," said David as Lehighton enters tonight's home match with Palmerton.
David began wrestling in third grade, and while he admits his father is a big influence on him, it is a passion he has developed for himself.
"I wrestle because I love to wrestle, but also for family pride," he stated. "When I was younger, my dad pushed me. Now he's just there for me. He doesn't want to make me feel like I have to wrestle. He loves that I wrestle, and he's my coach in the offseason, but he doesn't pressure me at all."
His father does videotape every one of his son's bouts, something he does for two of David's younger cousins as well. Following matches, the two of them will review and break down the tapes, pointing out mistakes as well as things David is doing well.
David has been providing a highlight reel so far. Wrestling at 145 and 152 pounds, he is 23-4. He is a Jim Thorpe Christmas tournament champion, also placing second at the Brandywine Heights Bullet Invitational and seventh at the rigorous Bethlehem Holiday Classic.
David feels his footwork has improved this season. "When I was younger, I was terrible on my feet. I was so flat footed," he recalled. "I've worked on my rhythm and motion, and I'm getting takedowns now. If you can take someone down, you can win the match."
While he has reached the 100-win plateau, Lucykanish hasn't been able to put it together during District 11 competition, where he has been plagued by a variety of ailments that curtailed his chances. He is still shooting for his first trip to States.
"He's run into tough luck at Districts the last two years," said Lehighton coach Floyd Brown. "He hurt his ankle as a sophomore (when he had 30 wins), then last year, he was sick the whole week leading up to Districts.
"Hopefully, this will be his year. He's had good luck so far, and he can wrestle with anyone. He's focused. Each year he's gotten better. I feel he's improved enough to get to States and make some noise in Hershey."
Last season, Lucykanish was one win away from qualifying for the Southeast AA Regional, only to fall short against Mike Englert of Palmerton, adding a touch of irony to David's frustration. David does have a win against Englert this season.
"I want to be a State placewinner," stressed David. "I know I have the ability to do it. My coaches tell me that all the time. I've beaten kids who have been out to States, but I just haven't been able to break through."
David received a boost in the offseason when he won the Middle Atlantic Wrestling Association (MAWA) Eastern National Elite Division title at 145, beating Bedford's Tanner Ripple 4-2 for first place at Salisbury, Maryland last May.
"That was a turning point for me," suggested David. "In the past, I didn't wrestle as much in the offseason as I wanted to. After I won nationals, I really started to get into it. I started wrestling every day, and it has given me a whole lot of confidence."
David recently dropped down to 145 pounds and will likely stay there for Districts.
"I've wrestled at 152 for most of the season against bigger, stronger kids, so when I got to 145, it's a different world," he related. "Right now I feel no pressure. I'm going to go out and do what I'm doing. I want to redeem myself in the postseason."