Versatile Torsell has choices

Nick Torsell is the prototypical all-around athlete.

Football coaches from around the area have noticed, and so have college coaches from around the state.

Torsell, a two-way starter at guard and defensive end for the Bellwood-Antis football team, also won 25 matches as a 170-pound senior last winter for the Blue Devils’ wrestling squad.

But Torsell’s best sport arguably may be track and field, in which he finished second in the District 6-AA javelin and advanced to the PIAA state meet this past spring.

In fact Torsell, who will line up for the South squad at defensive end in the 30th annual Lezzer Lumber Football Classic at 7 p.m. Friday at Mansion Park, isn’t yet certain whether he will pursue football or track at the next level.

“Right now, I’m not sure,” Torsell said earlier this week. “I’ll know within a couple of weeks, but until then, it’s up in the air.”

Torsell was set on playing on Mansfield University’s sprint football squad until St. Francis University came calling recently with an offer to throw the javelin.

“He’s got options,” Gabe Walter, the South team’s defensive line and defensive ends coach, said of Torsell. “He’s a good wrestler, too. He could probably wrestle in college.”

The fact that the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Torsell likes playing both football and throwing the javelin equally well adds to the intrigue.

“Nothing is set in stone yet,” Torsell said. “I really enjoy both sports. Whatever works out and whatever happens, I’ll enjoy doing it.”

During his high school football days at Bellwood, Torsell was an undersized lineman who relied on his quickness and physical strength to beat opponents in the trenches.

“I’m smaller, but I’m pretty dedicated in the weight room,” Torsell said. “That helped me to hold my own against anybody I played against, and I was a lot faster than most of the people I played against.”

Walter picked up on that right away this week watching Torsell perform in practice for the South team.

“What has really impressed me is that he possesses a really nice blend of quickness and strength,” said Walter, who is Claysburg-Kimmel’s head coach. “He is solid rock, and you don’t get get that way by being lazy, so you know the kid is a hard worker. He’s in peak physical shape.”

If Torsell decides to go the football route at Mansfield, he’ll be able to turn the tables a bit. Sprint football rules mandate that no player can weigh in at over 172 pounds. That means Torsell is a little heavier than most of the players he’ll see on the field in college, and he’ll have to shed a few pounds.

“I’ll have to hit the cardio and work out a little harder,” Torsell said. “I don’t like watching what I eat. It’s too much fun to eat.”

If Torsell decides to throw the javelin at St. Francis, his diet won’t be as big an issue. Torsell progressed in leaps and bounds during the course of this past spring’s track and field season, according to Bellwood-Antis boys track and field coach Nick Lovrich.

“He’s a super nice kid who knew what he had to do to get better at the end of the season, and did it,” said Lovrich, who is also a member of Bellwood’s football coaching staff. “And in football, you wouldn’t picture him as a guard or a defensive end, but he played those positions well for us, he moved very well on the field, and it didn’t matter if his opponent was bigger than him – Nick could still handle him.”

The Lezzer Lumber Classic may be Torsell’s football swan song. Or it may not be. Either way, he’ll enjoy it.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Torsell said. “It’s a laid-back atmosphere, but there’s a lot of good talent in the game. I’m excited to play football again.”