After Huntingdon beat Penn Cambria in the semifinals of the District 6 Duals Saturday at Tyrone, there was a touching scene on the mat involving the undefeated Bearcats and one of the program's pioneers.
Ellwood Reese won a state title for Tyrone at 185 pounds in 1950, but he started the wrestling program at Huntingdon 50 years ago and was the head coach for 11 years, from 1961 to 1971.
A 2004 inductee into the District 6 Hall of Fame, Reese sat down for a group photo with the Huntingdon wrestlers and coaches, who went on to win the Duals for the first time in the history of the event.
"It's a thrill and an honor, and beyond that, it's just great," Reese said. "I remember wrestling for this school at one time, and then I took on a school district that was a little bit late getting the sport. It was a lean time for years, and then we won one. That was the beginning. A couple years, we had winning seasons.
"I never had an undefeated team, but there's been two [in program history]. One was back when Freddie Wilson was coaching [from 1983 to 1992] and now while Jonathan [Mykut] is here. I'm proud of these guys. I feel for guys who are willing to sacrifice and come out here. I'm proud to be here."
Reese wrestled at Lock Haven College, where he won two conference titles. Later, he started the wrestling program at Warwick High School, serving as the head coach, before he got Huntingdon going. He was the District 6 Wrestling Coaches Association president in 1967 and 1968.
Reese, who turns 80 this week, walks with a cane and isn't in the best of health. He lives by himself "in the woods" outside of Huntingdon. A teacher for 35 years, he was married for a long time before his wife died, and Reese doesn't see much wrestling anymore.
Afterward, a dinner was held in Reese's honor. Even though it was cold outside and freezing rain made travel hazardous, warm feelings made the day a good one for Reese.
"I don't leave home very much," he said. "If it wasn't for the guys calling me, I wouldn't have come up here. I couldn't miss this. I had many of their dads, and to see all of this is absolutely beautiful. I could talk wrestling and stay here until midnight."
Duals were competitive
Maybe it was because Westmont Hilltop jumped to Class AAA, but the competition in the semifinals of the District 6 Duals in both classes was pretty close this season.
The Hilltoppers actually made Central Mountain work pretty hard for their fourth straight title. With the Wildcats holding a 36-31 lead, the 215-pound between CM's Devin Stacey and Westmont's Don Shovestull went into overtime. Rather than risk getting pinned, Stacey gave up an easy takedown to end the match.
The meet started with a couple top 285-pounders banging heads in Westmont's Josh Duplin and CM's Zach Corl. Duplin, who placed fifth at the PIAA Class AA Championships, recorded a 5-2 win over Corl, who was a Class AAA state runner-up last season.
The District 6 Class AA program had Central Cambria's roster instead of Juniata's.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org