Closing out the 2013-14 mat season
Although it may not look like it, spring is upon us.
As we usher in a new season and a variety of different sports, we also say goodbye to basketball and wrestling.
Throughout the TIMES NEWS area, several boys' and girls' hoops teams enjoyed success this past season, highlighted by Marian's district championship and subsequent run to the second round of the state playoffs.
The achievements weren't limited to the hardwood, though, as a number of area wrestlers also made headlines throughout the year for their stellar performances on the mat, which was evidenced by six TN grapplers advancing to the PIAA Wrestling Championships.
But the honor of making it to Hershey wasn't limited to the wrestlers, as for the first time I got to cap off a season with a three-day trip to the prestigious event, something I had looked forward to for the better part of the last year.
While I wish I had been able to experience it at something closer to 100 percent (being sick put a damper on things) and my gripes with the tournament echo those of my colleagues (WI-FI, food), I am most definitely thankful for the opportunity to see the season come full circle.
Through covering events and putting together the rankings during the season, I feel I am able gain some level of perspective on the sport, which ultimately gives me a better understanding of it and makes each match more enjoyable.
But only so much knowledge can be gained through compiling data from websites and watching matches.
Much of what I've learned over these last two years is due in large part to the coaches throughout the area and my colleagues who have made this process and transition much easier for me.
Each week, I take great pride in making the Wrestling Wrap-Up as good or better than any other column in the area, something that can only be accomplished through a joint effort with those that contribute to each feature.
Luckily, I have been able to get very worthwhile and thoughtful feedback from coaches regarding a variety of topics.
That information, coupled with the insight provided by those that are so very knowledgeable about the sport, allows for better analysis and also goes a long way toward making each story more thorough and comprehensive.
To be fair, not every story was positive in nature. But there have certainly been more highs than lows this season.
While it's hard to condense nearly four months worth of accomplishments into one story, here are some of the highlights from the year that was:
- Palmerton's Josh Evans, Tamaqua's Colin Mashack and Panther Valley's Lenny Ogozalek all earning their 100th career win on the same day.
- Northern Lehigh, Jim Thorpe and Palmerton qualifying for the District 11 Class 2A Team Championships.
- Evans winning the 138-pound Northeast Regional championship after finishing second at the District 11 Class 2A tournament the week before.
- Evans, Mashack, Ogozalek, Lehighton's Connor Frey and Panther Valley's Rian Shubeck and Richard Nase advancing to the PIAA Wrestling Championships, where Evans and Nase medaled.
Those achievements, coupled with what appears to be a youth movement for many area teams, should mean the sport is headed in the right direction.
And with good luck and good fortune, I'll be able to see that promise come to fruition.