Altoona wrestler earns MAWA title

The offseason can be just as important to achieving success in the sport of wrestling as anything that happens during the regular season.

Honing skills, staying in wrestling shape and expanding competitive horizons are all part of the successful wrestler’s repertoire.

Altoona Area High School wrestler Kobe Harr has spent this spring establishing quite a foundation for himself.

Harr, who won 20 varsity matches as a freshman 145-pounder for the Mountain Lions last winter, captured the 152-pound championship in the Middle Atlantic Wrestling Association Eastern National Championships age 15-16 division competition that was held last weekend at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury, Md.

Harr won three matches in Maryland, taking the first by major decision, the second by 3-1 decision and the championship bout by 3-0 decision.

“I’ve never had anything big,” Harr said. “It feels pretty good to have a cool title like this. At first, I didn’t know if I was going to make it all the way. But I felt pretty confident going into the final match, because I had beaten that kid before.”

Harr qualified for the Eastern Nationals by winning a pair of Pennsylvania tournaments that were held at West Branch High School in Morrisdale March 5 and at York April 1-2.

He was undefeated in the three tournaments and surrendered a combined total of only six points to his opponents in winning nine total matches.

Joel Gilbert, who has been the head wrestling coach at Altoona for 10 years after spending the previous 10 years as an assistant with the program, said that Harr is the first Altoona wrestler to win a MAWA title in his coaching tenure at Altoona.

“That’s a pretty big accomplishment,” Gilbert said. “He’s worked hard for this honor, and we’re happy for him.”

Last season, Harr finished fifth at the District 6 Class 3A tournament in what was a very difficult weight class.

“This will definitely give me confidence,” Harr said of his recent successes. “I feel so much better now than I did at midseason (last winter). Toward the end of these tournaments, I picked it up and pretty much tore through.”

Gilbert hopes that Harr’s offseason accolades will transfer to his future success as a varsity wrestler.

“We’re happy that he’s continuing his wrestling in the offseason, and we know that’s definitely going to make him better during the season,” Gilbert said. “We’re real happy with the 20 wins he had last year, and we’re looking for him to improve. I think he’ll build upon it.”