The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 11, 2013

Harold Raker's column on high school wrestling: Don't give up on the 'Cats

When Mifflinburg -- everyone's pick to repeat as Heartland Athletic Conference-Division I champion and challenge for the District 4 Class AA title -- opened the season with a pair of losses under a new head coach, Wildcats fans might have wondered if their team's recent run of success had run its course.

The Wildcats have a star-studded cast but, for a variety of reasons, the lineup has had some holes. But after losses to a solid Warrior Run squad and another to HAC-I member Jersey Shore, first-year coach Al Fluman's team has won three in a row and there appears to be no panic at the Union County school.

Although the coaches and wrestlers knew they would turn it around, one who was taking no chances was senior captain Ty Walter.

"I've really tried to step up a lot this year as far as being a captain and a leader," said Walter, after bumping up two weight classes to get a closing technical fall in a win over visiting Shikellamy on Thursday night.

"There are days in practice where every kid on the team hates me because practice is over and I make them run extra sprints, and I'm on the guys about their weights not (being) good and they're running the day of the match. I'm on them about keeping their weight down," he said.

Walter added, "It seems like I'm being a jerk sometimes but, really, I'm just trying to get us in shape and, I think, come (District 4) duals, we can surprise a lot of people. We haven't had the good results yet but our team is finally starting to come around and be where we need to be."

Both Walter and Fluman pointed to the tough early schedule (which included the always rugged King of the Mountain and Power Ade tournaments) as having something to do with the rocky start, but also something that is beginning to pay dividends.

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