It's hard to find a good workout partner for a heavyweight because of their size and different style of wrestling, but Northern Bedford's Quinton Hixson had a very good one in Terry Tate.
Yep, the Terry Tate who wrestled for Tyrone, won a state title at 275 in 2005 and piled up 149 career wins and 91 pins, both of which were area records until Tyrone's A.J. Schopp broke them last year.
Tate worked out with Hixson about five times, retiring NBC coach Jan Clark said, including twice last week before the state tournament.
So how did a former state champ from Tyrone begin working out with a junior 285-pounder from Northern Bedford?
"He's actually dating a girl who is the sister of one of our junior high kids," Clark said. "We heard about it. We had been trying to find someone who could work out with Quinton. So, we sort of set some things up, made some phone calls and I asked him to come in. He said 'Yeah, I come up to see my girlfriend anyhow. No problem.'
"He was in like three times during the year, toward the end of the season, after the Thomas Tournament. Then, he couldn't make it in because he's working at the funeral home in Tyrone. I called him last Sunday, and he came in Monday and Tuesday."
Hixson won his second District 5 title, qualified for the PIAA Championships with a fifth-place finish at a loaded Southwest Regional and placed seventh in Hershey. He pinned Central Cambria's Shane Morris in the seventh-place, avenging a regional loss.
"He's gained so much confidence up here," Clark said. "Every match he's lost, he's said 'I could have beat that kid.' He realizes he's not that far off."
Hixson, who finished with a 33-8 record, credited Tate, who went to Edinboro University on a wrestling scholarship, for making him better.
"I don't know if I'd be where I am right now if I hadn't practiced with him," Hixson said. "It gave me someone my weight in the room, and he was a state champ, so he knows what he's doing."
How tough were the practices?
"He's in better shape than I am," Hixson said laughing. "He'll let me do stuff when I get it. If I don't do stuff right, he won't let me have it all."
"He's unbelievable. He's really tough," Clark said. "If he hadn't blown his knee out at Edinboro, he'd probably be a Division I All-American. He got to roll with Quinton quite a bit. That really benefited Quinton a lot. Not just with wrestling, but also with maturity and confidence to realize 'Wow, there's a level way above this level.' We're hoping we can continue it next year."
Ancheff to Georgia
The state tournament didn't start off well for Hixson because he ran into Williams Valley's Ben Ancheff in his first bout. Ancheff pinned him in 1:21 before losing to Richland's two-time state champ John Rizzo in the ultimate tiebreaker in the quarterfinals.
Ancheff, who finished fifth, is sort of a freak of nature who will be going to the University of Georgia on a baseball scholarship as a pitcher. Mind you, this is a guy who had to lose weight to get down to 285, and Williams Valley is one of the smaller schools in the state.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.