David Kephart excelled in wrestling for Portage and football at Bishop Carroll, and for most of his senior year he had to weigh which one he wanted to play in college.
A fullback and linebacker with BC, he was recruited by Juniata College, Mercyhurst College and Allegheny College for football, but Kephart, who placed seventh at 189 pounds at the PIAA Class AA Championships, only drew interest from Division II power UPJ for wrestling.
In the end, though, he chose to wrestle for Pat Pecora at UPJ, signing his letter of intent Thursday at BC. Kephart cited the school being close to home and the quality of the program, but he said he also had some unfinished business with wrestling.
"I didn't wrestle to the best of my expectations," he said. "I think that's why I wanted to wrestle in college. I can be proud of my football career. I helped my team reach the state semifinals.
"But, I know I should have beaten [Brookville's] Jacob Shields [in the state consolation quarterfinals, an 8-6 loss]. I could have taken fourth instead of seventh. I'm just not ready to quit."
"That's very encouraging," Pecora said. "It is always good to have have a recruit that feels that he has not yet achieved his highest honor in the sport."
Pecora says what drew his interest in Kephart was his athletic ability.
"I love recruiting wrestlers that were good in other sports," he said, "because they have a lot of room to grow once they start concentrating on one sport."
A three-time Mirror first-team all-star in wrestling who was 118-30 in his career, he went 35-4 with 20 pins as a senior, won his first District 6 title and finished second at the Southwest Regional Tournament, suffering a controversial loss to Southmoreland's Jordan Kitta. He was 118-30 in his career with 69 pins.
Adam Whetstone, who became Portage's coach this past season after wrestling for UPJ, where he was an All-American, said he did have some influence with Kephart picking the Mountain Cats.
"I was a fly in his ear," Whetstone joked. "I think it was a very smart choice. It's close to home and he'll have a great choice he needs to be under. He needs some guidance. From high school to college is a big transformation, and I think Coach Pecora does a great job. At other places, he might get lost in the shuffle."
All freshmen redshirt at UPJ, and Kephart says he doesn't have a problem with that. He'll use his first year to get his academics in order. Kephart plans to major in pre-med.
"I love a challenge," he said. "I wanted to pick the most challenging thing I could. I know I can make it through, and it's going to be fun too."
Considering that theory then, his longterm goal on the mat should be no surprise to anybody.
"The goal is to be the best," Kephart said. "I want to be the best I can possibly be and go beyond that. I think I can do great things."