When Philipsburg-Osceola's Logan Walstrom was in the early stages of his elementary wrestling career, he only had to look within his family for inspiration and guidance on the mat.
Walstrom's grandfather is Gene Dixon, a two-time District 6 champion who won a state title at 165 pounds in 1959 and went 18-0-1 his senior year for P-O. Dixon went on to win two Pennsylvania Conference titles and an NAIA crown in 1961 for Bloomsburg State.
Dixon, a 1998 inductee into the District 6 Hall of Fame, was also a coach at West Branch for some time, so when he it came time for Walstrom to work on his skills after he took up the sport at the age of 4 1/2, his grandfather became his coach.
"He ended up getting me a wrestling mat, and we put it down in our basement," Walstrom said. "We'd go down there every night and work out. He taught me that I had to be physical and be confident. You can never shut down and you always have to keep your offense going. He comes to every match and every tournament."
"They tell me how good Geno was," P-O coach Tim McCamley said. "I never got to see him wrestle, but I know he's pretty proud of Logan."
Dixon has had a lot to be proud of. A four-year starter for the Mounties, Walstrom is a two-time District 6 Class AAA runner-up, qualified for the PIAA Championships last season, has a career record of 85-35 and is 15-0 as a senior 152-pounder.
n He is a two-time District 6 runner-up who qualified for states by placing third at regionals last year.
n He's 15-0 with three major decisions as a senior.
n He has a career record of 85-35.
Walstrom seems to be putting it all together this season. He's had double-digit losses every year despite his postseason success, but he's made big strides on the mat.
"I think I improved a lot on the mat compared to last year," he said. "I never used to be able to ride, and I've been trying to get a lot better at that."
His coach can really see the improvement in his mental approach.
"He's a lot more intense this year," McCamley said. "He's focusing on being good from every position, and it's paying off for him. He's always been very good on his feet and very explosive. This year, he's focusing on the total package. He's working on riding, pinning and his tilts. He's always been a very good rider. He just hasn't done it.
"I think he improved more in the last half of last year into this year. When he came to high school, he was a pretty accomplished wrestler. He has really worked on conditioning and everything else in the last year-and-a-half."
His push to get better has probably been intensified by the two silver medals that have hung on his neck after the last two district tournaments. Not that he's lost to slouches. Quite the contrary. He's gotten pinned in both 145-pound finals by eventual state champions, and they were both from Central Mountain. He lost to Andrew Alton as a sophomore and Brian Brill last season.
"It kind of bothers me sometimes," Walstrom said, "but it gives me motivation. My sophomore year, I knew I didn't have a very good chance, but last year, I thought I had a pretty good chance if I didn't gas. He just overpowered me."
"He's just got to keep plugging away," McCamley said. "There's good guys out there again this year. He's got to decide on what weight he's going to go at, and he's got great workout partners in that room."
Walstrom, who placed sixth in the 10-and-under age group at the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Championships, came up as a freshman 140-pounder and went 11-11 and placed fifth at the district tournament.
"I knew it was going to be difficult," Walstrom said. "I knew it was going to be a challenge. Everyone was going to be older."
As a 145-pound sophomore, he went 28-10 and appeared on his way to the Northwest Regional consolation semifinals with an 11-2 lead on Clearfield's Derek Danver. Danver, however, reversed him to his back and pinned him.
Last year, Walstrom went 31-14 with six technical falls and finished third at the Northwest Regional to qualify for Hershey, where he went 0-2.
Walstrom seems to have a lot of confidence on his feet. That was evident on Friday against Huntingdon's Josh Bafia, who used to beat Walstrom in elementary action. Up 9-4 entering the third period, Walstrom turned it up a notch and won, 18-6.
"I think I've been doing pretty good," he said. "I think I'll do better down at 145. It's just going to be hard to get down there. I think I'm at my best on my feet, but if I have to get out, I'll get out. If I have turn someone, I could."
Walstrom doesn't know if he's going to college and continuing his wrestling career, so what he does the rest of the season could be his legacy. He needs 15 more wins for 100, which he should reach if he stays healthy, and he wants to win district and regional titles.
Then, it would be a return trip to the state tournament, where a medal would be something Walstrom and Dixon could talk about for some time.
"I'd like to make the podium down at states," Walstrom said. "That would probably the highlight of my career."