Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic has never had a wrestling program, but the school has taken steps toward to possibly starting one in the future.
BG and Hollidaysburg will co-op for in wrestling, meaning Guilfoyle kids can wrestle for the Golden Tigers. The move was passed by the PIAA on Oct. 9, and the agreement will be in effect for at least two years.
"We've had some interest by some kids, and we're real excited that it's happening," BG athletic director Mike Cacciotti said. "Hollidaysburg has been real receptive to it. There's a real excitement here for it."
"It provides the chance for more kids to be able to wrestle," Hollidaysburg coach Mike Moore said, "which is always a positive thing. As far as the relationship goes, we've had kids in the elementary program that once they got into the junior high, they couldn't wrestle anymore. This will allow them to wrestle."
On the surface, nobody outside of the programs would have expected the schools to make this kind of agreement. But, Cacciotti said the talks have been ongoing.
"We had been talking with [Hollidaysburg athletic director] Dean Rossi, and the conversations were good," Cacciotti said. "I think their numbers have been down a little bit, so it's a good fit for us."
The Tigers, who had 17 wrestlers participate in at least one bout in 2011-12, regularly forfeited five or six weights during their 0-11 season. So, an influx of more wrestlers is welcome.
"Any time you add wrestlers, it's a good thing," Moore said. "Our numbers have been tremendously down, and filling the weights has been difficult, so hopefully, this will fill the weights and benefit us."
How many BG kids will dot the roster at Hollidaysburg. Cacciotti said 10 to 12 have initially signed up, which would give Moore some depth if all go out and stick with the grueling sport.
"They might get a taste of it, and you don't know how many will stick," Cacciotti said. "Wrestling is a tough sport. But, I think it's going to be a win for us and [Hollidaysburg]."
If all goes well, Cacciotti says there could be an opportunity in the future for BG to start its own program during an era in which some schools have dropped it. Right now, no Catholic school in District 6 has a wrestling program. Bishop McCort, Moore says, co-ops with Westmont Hilltop. Bishop Carroll, which has had an agreement with Portage, dropped its program after the 1981-1982 season.
"I expect good things," Cacciotti said. "It's early, but we hope maybe at some point BG has a wrestling program. We're thrilled to have it now, and real good start in the right direction."
Varner coming to town
Jake Varner trained with Penn State coach Cael Sanderson out of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club before winning a gold medal at the London Olympics this summer.
Varner will be in Altoona on Saturday morning for a clinic at the Competitive Sports Academy. He will give tips and speak to wrestlers from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Jody Stittmatter, who heads up Young Guns Wrestling Club with his brother, John, is thrilled that Varner, a two-time NCAA champion at Iowa State, is coming to the clinic.
"I'm super excited to see his technique," Jody Strittmmater said, "and I'm very excited to hear him speak and see the things he does to train to give himself an edge. He lives the right lifestyle and he works hard at what he does.
"I've never met him, but I keep hearing about how big of a role model he is. I just hear he is a good person off the mat, and that's what we're about at Young Guns. I called Cael Sanderson one day, and [Varner] got back to me. He wanted to see if the date conflicted with anything, but he was super nice."
Strittmatter expects about 40 to 50 kids to be at the clinic. He said those who want to participate at the clinic can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the Young Guns website for more information.
Strittmater got some good news earlier when his club was recently named the No. 1 club in the nation by Flo Wrestling.
"You feel you're doing a good job, and for the club to get recognized is pretty cool," he said.
Schopp in Classic
Tyrone graduate and Edinboro redshirt sophomore A.J. Schopp will be wrestling in the NWCA All-Star Classic against Minnesota's Chris Dardanes at 133 on Nov. 3 at American University in Washington, D.C.
Schopp, who went 39-6 with 19 pins last season, will get a chance to avenge his 7-3 NCAA Championships loss to Dardanes, who went on to place fourth.
Penn State's Nico Megaludis (125), Dylan Alton (157), David Taylor (165) and Quentin Wright (197) will also wrestle in the star-studded event. The featured matchup is returning national champ Taylor against Cornell's three-time national champ Kyle Dake.