---- — By Harold Raker
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- He could have spent his down time looking out the window at Selinsgrove High School, watching the snow pile up. He could have listened to some rap or heavy metal.
Perhaps either of those activities would have met the approval of his coach.
Selinsgrove coach Seth Martin thinks junior 132-pounder Tom Kramer is too focused on his wrestling. He thinks too much, Martin says.
For his part, Kramer wants to avoid distractions. While many wrestlers will bide their time listing to iPods or even watching other matches, Kramer just wants to soak up the atmosphere.
"I don't like to sit down, so I kind of stood up and was pacing around the gym," he said. "I don't ever listen to music before a match. I feel like I would get distracted.
He said he likes to be focused on the environment in the gym, not so much watching matches. "I want to have the sound of the gym, what it's going to be like. I don't like to be in my own little world."
Kramer's way worked, at least on Saturday, as he not only won the championship at the Selinsgrove Holiday Tournament but was also voted the Most Valuable Wrestler. That honor was the result of his having the most pins (two) in the least amount of time (2 minutes, 42 seconds).
His weight class had only four competitors, which left Kramer lots of time on his hands between his semifinal (a 31-second pin over Jesse Koerber of Wilson) and the final (a fall in 1:49 over Matt Heiserman of Salisbury). Both came with cradles off the initial takedown.
He noted that some guys wrestled two or three times Saturday before his second and final bout.
Martin, who would like to see Kramer be more relaxed -- even to the point of not studying the brackets -- said Kramer won his matches Saturday like he wins most of them, by countering his opponent's shots.
"Tom Kramer drives me crazy," Martin said.
There are two reasons: his penchant for working himself up rather than relaxing; and his style of wrestling, which is predominantly defensive.
"He's a real defensive wrestler. He works a lot of things from guys shooting on him and that's fine, I guess, as long as you're good at it and don't get taken down and that's what he did," Martin said. "He just waited, the guy shot, he spun, took them both down and pinned them. Made short work of it, and that's why he's the (most valuable wrestler)."
Kramer, who missed last year's tournament because of injury, was the lone champion for the host team.
The Seals, a young squad with little experience, placed fourth in the seven-team event. An eighth school, Abington Heights, did not make the trip because of the weather conditions.
Kramer injured his shoulder during last year's Bethlehem holiday tournament a few days before the Seals' event and developed tendonitis, which sidelined him for the home tournament.
The Seals' other finalist, junior Austin Lewis, battled back at 195 with a 3-2 ultimate tiebreaker rideout decision over Montoursville's Lucas Shaheen in one of six true second-place bouts to claim the runner-up award. True-seconds are held if the winner of the third/fourth-place bout had not previously wrestled the loser of the final. Lewis had lost in the final to Wellsboro's Chad Daugherty, 4-2.
Third-place finishers for the Seals were junior Nathan Young (113) with an 11-2 major decision over Montgomery's Zach Schadle; junior Darion Lavanowitz (170), with a 5:51 pin over Jorge Espinal of Salisbury; and freshman Drew Boob (182), with a pin in 3:14 over Darkens Carriotte of Wilson.
Montoursville edged Montgomery for the team title, 57-52.
Martin said his team is struggling because of its inexperience and the fact that the wrestlers don't seem to be able to apply what they are doing in the mat room to the matches.
"Really what this is is a transition year. Last year I lost nine out of my 19 (to graduation) and eight of those nine were starters and they were the power of my team," Martin said.
He said he could have 13 new wrestlers up from the junior high next year, many of whom have had a lot of success, "and that didn't happen this year."