Bright future for young wrestling team


This season, the Bellefonte wrestling team ended their season record 7-4, barely missing out on a qualification for a district duals competition. Regardless, the wrestlers from the team went on to the individual district tournament where they had great success. A total of 11 wrestlers competed, with 7 of them qualifying to attend the southwest regionals in Altoona on the weekend of March 3 and 4. The team placed fourth overall.

The team may have been young with 4 of the 7 qualifiers being underclassmen, but that didn’t stop the success of the team. With the guidance and help of the six seniors, they were able to still have great success.

Out of the seven who attended the regional tournament, one wrestler qualified for states. Senior Gage Long, who wrestles at 145 pounds, placed 5th at the tournament which qualified him for the state tournament taking place in Hershey. It is the ultimate accomplishment in high school wrestling for an individual in Pennsylvania.

According to PA Power’s rankings, Gage was originally ranked seventh in the Southwest Region and not projected to attend state. However, after his regional performance at Altoona, he is moving on to states at the Hershey Giant Center on March 7 through March 9. 

Gage’s good wrestling at districts and regionals can be attributed to his coaches. 

“They help me understand composure during matches by keeping me calm, even when I’m downscore. All through wrestling, even when I’m down by a point, it’s hard to stay positive,” Gage said. 

Gage also credits his dad, brothers, and coaches in helping him stay positive. 

“Believing in yourself is important. Every time I stepped on the mat I thought I was going to lose. Last year, and at districts, I started to figure this out. This year, I really figured it out and I don’t have worries about thinking like that again. I’ve seen myself beat these kids and now I know I can do it,” Gage said.

For the other wrestlers on the team, all enjoyed a meaningful season of growth and accomplishment. Bellefonte history teacher and Head Coach Mr. Michael Maney says he enjoyed that process.

“The highlight of the season was watching the growth of the team. It wasn’t necessarily about one match or one event but watching the individual grow as people and as a team,” he said. “They made a lot of growth through hard work and belief.”

He also commented individually on several wrestlers.

“[Senior] Nash Irwin has been a member of the Jr. High team and then the varsity team for the last few years and he has become a reliable starter, especially this senior year to have a big impact on the team’s success,” Mr. Maney said. “Others like Caleb Frazier and Eli Gindhart came out for the first time and they were valuable members of the wrestling team.”

Coach Maney was particularly proud of senior Max Murray, who he says overcame immense challenges as a new wrestler and student in the Bellefonte district.

“Max Murray moved into the school district this year and he made a huge impact right away. He has not been able to complete a full season in his high school career. Max’s story is pretty amazing overcoming many obstacles just to compete on the mat,” he said.