Swartz gets his shot with D-1 program

By John Hartsock

jhartsock@altoonamirror.com

By any measure, Nathan Swartz enjoyed an outstanding wrestling career at Hollidaysburg Area High School.

Swartz logged a 97-43 career record in four years, with 53 true falls. He was a District 6 Class 3A champion at 138 pounds as a junior, and qualified for the PIAA Class 3A state tournament in both his junior and senior years.

Swartz won one match at states as a junior and two as a senior, but he still felt that he left some business unfinished.

“It was good, but it wasn’t really what I was looking for,” Swartz said. “I was looking to get a state title.”

Now Swartz will get a chance to compete for an NCAA championship as a member of the Division I Northern Illinois University wrestling team. Swartz was recruited for the team by Northern Illinois coach Ryan Ludwig, who watched Swartz take fifth place at 138 pounds in the National High School Coaches Association (NHCA) Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach in March.

“I wanted to go somewhere to (achieve) the ultimate goal of becoming a Division I national champion,” Swartz said. “Their coach watched a majority of my matches at Senior Nationals, and he said that he really liked my style of wrestling, and that he wanted me to come out there and check out the campus.”

Swartz visited the Northern Illinois campus in DeKalb, Ill., near Chicago, in April, and made his decision then to attend the school and wrestle there.

“I visited the second week of April, and I really liked the school,” said Swartz, who will major in political science. “I’m really excited. It’s a good school for academics, and it’s a good school for wrestling as well.”

Northern Illinois competes in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in wrestling. Other member wrestling schools in the conference include Missouri, Central Michigan, Old Dominion, Kent State, Eastern Michigan, Ohio University and Buffalo.

“That’s a real good conference, especially for wrestling,” Swartz said.

Hollidaysburg Area High School coach Christian Harr feels that Swartz can continue the success he experienced in high school wrestling at the college level.

“Nathan put in a lot of extra work over the past couple of years, and he has seen immense results from doing that,” Harr said. “He’s a very talented athlete, and I think that he will see a lot of success at the college level.

“He’s very much looking forward to wrestling at a Division I school, and we’re obviously very proud of him for having achieved that accomplishment,” Harr said. “Wrestling at that level in college is a huge deal. Very few kids in our program have accomplished that.”

Swartz isn’t sure if his freshman season at Northern Illinois will be a redshirt year. If at all possible, he wants to wrestle right away.

“If I have the opportunity to wrestle and not redshirt, I will take that,” Swartz said. “I just want to get out there and start competing, and getting better.”

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