Huntingdon’s Mykut shines in 13th season as coach

Many people around the world have a fear of anything to do with the number 13. The fear, or superstition, is called triskaidekaphobia.

It’s doubtful that Huntingdon’s Jon Mykut, who just completed his 13th year as coach of the Bearcats and has a career record of 179-68, has that kind of fear considering what he helped his team do this season and the kind of postseason honors that he has taken home.

Mykut was named the District 6 Class AA Coach of the Year and followed that up at states by being named the PIAA Class AA Coach of the Year. While it’s not as big as being named the top coach in the state, he’s also been named the Mirror’s Coach of the Year for the 31st annual all-star team. He’s the first Huntingdon coach since Fred Wilson in 1992 to be honored by the Mirror.

“It feels great,” Mykut said at the photo shoot for the all-star team. “I’m very honored by that. It’s something special to me, for sure. I think it says a lot for our program, as well.”

“I think it’s pretty awesome that he got it,” sophomore 113-pound all-star Collin Glorioso said. “It’s a great honor to get.”

It was quite a year for Mykut and the Bearcats, who went 21-3, scored 50 or more points 15 times, easily won the District 6 Duals and went 2-2 at the PIAA Duals.

The Bearcats claimed the program’s first individual district team title by 75.5 points, amassed 220.5 points, the third most in Class AA history behind the Bald Eagle-Nittany’s 275 in 1993 and Westmont Hilltop’s 236 in 2009, and had three champions in Glorioso, Devon Green (132) and Jacob Oliver (145).

They qualified nine wrestlers to the Southwest Regional Tournament and their district champs to states, and Oliver and Glorioso took fourth and fifth, respectively. It was the first time Huntingdon had two state placers in the same year since Rich Brown and Burke Bishop and were second and fourth, respectively, in 1977.

“It’s a been real good year,” Mykut said. “We had kids place high at districts, regionals and states. We did well as a team. It’s really a credit to the kids because it all goes back to them. They work hard in the wrestling room and put the time in.”

Huntingdon usually has a good dual meet team, but it never put a postseason together like this one. Mykut said the building blocks were there at the beginning for this kind of season.

“I knew that we had a lot of good kids coming back and a lot of good kids coming in from junior high,” he said. “To be able to put everything together, you just don’t know how things are going to work out. I just think that the kids worked really hard all year long, and we had great leadership from our seniors.”

Part of the problem with getting a good lineup together is getting wrestlers at the right weight. The Bearcats had so much balance in their lineup, it was hard for opposing teams to get any momentum in dual meets.

“Yeah, that’s critical,” Mykut said. “I’m sure wrestling coaches all around the state right now are thinking about where kids fit in the lineup for next year. Kids grow at different rates, and you just don’t know where they’re going to fall. It was one of those situations where we had kids, I guess, luckily grow at different rates, and we were able to fit everybody in the lineup where we needed them and things clicked.”

In the offseason, he’ll also be running through different lineup scenarios and other wrestling topics in his head when he’s not matside.

“I’m always looking forward to next season,” Mykut said. “Down in Hershey, we were already thinking where different guys fit into different spots. It’s exciting. It’s the challenge as a coach. Each year, you graduate a group of kids and you have to replace those kids, and that’s what makes it fun.

“We’ll get back in the room and get our kids to wrestling camps. As soon as this season is over, the preparation for next season begins.”

This question has to be asked, though: Can Mykut’s team have the same kind of success next year as this one? The Bearcats are losing seven senior starters, but all four of the Mirror first-team all-stars – are either sophomores or freshman. Glorioso and 170-pounder Logan Fisher are sophomores, and Oliver and 120-pounder Tyler Scott are freshmen.

“I don’t know if that will be our focus,” Mykut said. “Our focus will be to try and spread guys out enough that we’re solid. This year was a special year, and it’s not one of those things that comes around all the time. It would be awesome to say we could have the same type of season as this year, but it takes a lot of hard work.

“We’re young. A lot of kids on the team are freshmen and sophomores. We have some kids who were actually on the team and we’re good enough probably to start at a lot of different places, but because we had such a solid lineup, they couldn’t fit in. Next year, you’ll see some of those kids fit in, and you’ll learn those names quick.”