Raiders' Lakitsky was simply perfect
For some wrestlers, success is measured by wins and losses.
For others, it's measured by championships.
For a few grapplers, it's measured by strength and size.
For Tamaqua's Garth Lakitsky, success was measured by the strength of his desire and the size of his dream.
The by-products were an undefeated season (42-0), a State Championship and his second straight TIMES NEWS Wrestler of the Year award.
An imposing physical specimen, Lakitsky didn't just win a State Championship; he dominated the state's Class AA 215-pounders from start to finish.
His 42 wins and 33 pins this season were both Tamaqua records, as he finished his scholastic career with an overall record of 129-27. Of his 129 wins, he pinned his opponent 94 times, which also established school records for most wins in a career and most pins in a career.
Lakitsky's win breakdown this season included 33 pins, four forfeits, one medical forfeit win, one major decision and three decisions.
His 2-1 decision of Milton's Ryan Solomon earned him the distinction of becoming Tamaqua's first state wrestling champion in the 43-year history of the program. He joins Andy Breiner (1999) and Matt Benza (2001), who both earned silver medals, as Tamaqua's only other state finalists.
It also marked Lakitsky's third trip to the state tournament, in which he improved from qualifier, to fourth-place medalist, to champion.
Lakitsky's father, also named Garth, was a 167-pounder for the Raiders who earned a third-place state medal as a junior in 1985 and placed fourth in 1986.
"Winning the State Championship was a tremendous honor and it's something that I dreamed about doing since my freshmen year," stated Lakitsky. "Last year, I came up short on a lot of my goals, but that just motivated me to work harder and get stronger for this season."
In addition to last year's fourth-place finish at States, Lakitsky lost two close bouts to Saucon Valley's Ian Gimbar in the District 11 and Southeast Class AA Regional finals to place second at each.
This season, he wasn't about to let history repeat itself.
With a District Championship, a Regional Championship, his third straight Schuylkill League Championship and a State Championship under his belt, Lakitsky was awarded the Christian Lusciano District 11 Pinning Award and the Wade Schalles State Pinning Award for the best pinning percentage in District 11 and Pennsylvania respectively.
While Lakitsky finished his high school career in style, it didn't exactly get off to the best of starts. As a 171-pound freshman, he finished with a losing record of 13-16.
"When Garth came in as a freshman, he took his lumps, but as his career went on, he steadily and rapidly increased his strength and his ability on the mat," touted Tamaqua head coach Jim McCabe. "He ended up turning into a phenomenal wrestler who went on the mat with one single goal, which was to pin his opponent as fast as he could."
"The easiest way to explain wrestling Garth is that it's not fun," added McCabe. "If you score on him or try to score on him, he's going to punish you for trying."
Lakitsky's dominance didn't stop at the State Tournament. In the District 3 vs. District 11 All-Star Tournament, Lakitsky defeated East Pennsboro's Zachary Nye 3-2. In Class AAA, Nye placed second in 2010 and fourth in 2011 at states and was ranked seventh nationally at 215 pounds.
Then, it was on to the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic at the University of Pittsburgh for a bout against Andrew Campolattano of Bound Brook, N.J. Campolattano (175-1 coming in) was a four-time state champion who has signed to wrestle at Rutgers University and entered ranked first in the country at 215 pounds.
Lakitsky defeated Campolattano by injury default at 2 minutes, 43 seconds. At the time of the stoppage, Lakitsky led 6-3.
"I actually think I was more excited about beating him than I was with winning the State Championship," said Lakitsky. "I don't think too many people gave me a shot at winning, but I love being the underdog because it gives me a chance to prove everyone wrong."
The postseason victories have generated a lot more interest in Lakitsky from college wrestling coaches and the entire wrestling community, as he is currently being looked at by Rider, Purdue, Oklahoma and Penn State.
"He pinned about 87-percent of the kids he wrestled this year and he pinned 73-percent of the kids he beat in his career, which are just remarkable numbers," concluded McCabe. "If I had to describe Garth in one word, it would simply be 'dominating.'"
After all he has accomplished, Garth Lakitsky can also be described as wrestling's "measuring stick of success."