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To coach or wrestle at Hershey, coaches discuss which is harder

Photo for the Mirror by Tami Knopsnyder Coach Billy Dubler and 132-pound PIAA 2A champion Brock McMillen celebrate after the final bout Saturday.

HERSHEY — Terry Tate, Brad Pataky and Billy Dubler are part of a select group in the area who have both wrestled and coached in the PIAA Championships.

Tate won a Class 2A state title at 275 pounds as a senior at Tyrone in 2005 and coached Hunter Walk to a sixth-place finish at 113 on Saturday in Hershey — Tyrone’s first state medalist since Dylan Weston in 2012.

Pataky won a Class 3A state title at 112 as a junior at Clearfield in 2004 and was a runner-up as a freshman at 103 in 2002 and as a senior at 119 in 2005. He coached Parker Moore (sixth at 195), Chase Chapman (eighth at 138) and Hunter Weitoish (eighth at 160) to a school-record three medals.

Dubler, who finished sixth at 160 as a senior at Glendale in 1997, coached Brock McMillen to his second state title at 132 and Cory Johnston to a seventh-place finish at 220.

Tate, Pataky and Dubler were asked if it is easier to wrestle or coach in the state tournament.

“It’s definitely harder to wrestle,” Dubler said. “I’m a big believer in all the coaching is done at practice, and basically I’m a fan with a closer seat here. When I have a cheeseburger, I can go have it. I don’t have to make weight. I can skip workouts and stuff. These guys can’t afford to do any of that.”

“It’s way harder to coach,” Tate said. “I wish I could wrestle in it. At least you have a little bit of control. You can go out and control your own destiny. We have all the faith in the world in Hunter, and he puts the time in. We knew he could do what he did this weekend. I don’t envy (assistant coach) Buddy (Walk) at all, being both a coach and a dad. I can’t even imagine how nerve wracking that would be.”

Pataky said there are challenges with both wrestling and coaching in the state tournament.

“That’s a really good question,” Pataky said. “When you’re wrestling in the tournament, you have more control over the outcome. With some of the situations you see kids in, you think ‘Oh man, if I could just step in and wrestle for them, I could help them get over that obstacle.’ It’s also tough because as a wrestler, you have a lot of pressure.

“As a coach, you’re more there as just a guider and somebody that they can lean on. But coaching may be a little more difficult because you’re invested in so many individuals, and there are so many scenarios you’re not in control of.”

P-O, Tyrone end droughts

Pataky and Tate were proud coaches after their wrestlers finally broke through and earned medals for their programs after long droughts without medals.

Both are in their fourth season as first-time head coaches.

Pataky had two state qualifiers in Chapman and Weitoish last season. When Chapman, Weitoish and Moore made the medal round on Friday, the large contingent of P-O fans was thrilled.

Not only had the program gone without a medal since 2008, the Mounties hadn’t garnered multiple medals in the same since 2001. It’s only the second year in Class 2A for P-O.

“It’s the first time having three medalists in school history, so that’s always an extremely proud moment,” Pataky said. “I’m extremely happy for the kids. I know our coaches have put in a lot of work and time with the kids.

“I think it’s testament to our philosophy of just trusting the process that we talk with the kids about. If you put forth your best effort and maintain a positive attitude, good things can happen. That’s something each one of them focused on throughout the year.”

State medals were common in the Tyrone program for many years. A.J. Schopp and teammate Ronnie Garbinsky earned eight medals between them before Weston’s sixth-place finish in 2012. Walk earned his sixth-place medal the hard way, losing his first bout at states and winning four straight in the consolations.

“It’s awesome,” Tate said. “I don’t want to take any credit. He’s the one that gets up in the morning and shows up in the weight room. He’s the one that’s working out after practice and working on stuff he needs to do. He’s the one putting in the extra time. I can instruct as much as I want as a coach, but he’s the one that does it.

“Hunter is just one of the guys who are going to lead the change in culture with the Tyrone wrestling program and kind of get it back to where it used to be. It’s awesome to have someone like him as a leader who is going to be back next year.”

Bollman to move up

Chestnut Ridge freshman Calan Bollman began the season at 113 and backed up Nathan Holderbaum for a little bit.

Bollman even placed third at 113 as Holderbaum’s backup at King of the Mountain before dropping to 106.

Bollman finished second at the PIAA Class 2A Championships on Saturday afternoon with a 4-2 loss to Montoursville’s Branden Wentzel. It was his first loss since losing to Latrobe’s Class 3A state champ Vincent Kilkeary at the Powerade Tournament in late December.

Bollman is tall and lanky and has weighed as much as 124 pounds. Some freshmen make significant jumps in weight classes the following season, but Bollman doesn’t expect that to happen.

“I’m not going to wrestle 108 (with the two-pound weight allowance),” Bollman said, “but if I can make 113, probably after Christmas when I get the two-pound allowance, I’m going to try to go to 113. It just depends on how I feel.”

Leading 1-0, Bollman was within about 40 seconds of becoming the first Chestnut Ridge freshman state champion, and the first area freshman state champ since Juniata Valley’s Garrett Scott in 2003. But then Wentzel took Bollman down to his back for a four-point move to seal the win.

“I honestly think he outwrestled that kid,” junior 113-pounder Kai Burkett said, “but he got thrown and gave up some back points. He’ll be ready next year.”

“Calan, especially as a freshman, even coming in second, I couldn’t be more proud of him,” senior 220-pounder Duane Knisely said. “He did a good job this season.”

Burkett aims for third medal

What weight Bollman wrestles at in the postseason next year will also probably depend on what weight two-time placewinner Burkett is at.

Burkett, who started the season at 120, finished fifth at 113, beating Walk, 5-1, in the fifth-place bout. Burkett (40-7) also finished fifth at 106 as a sophomore. Next season, he’ll look to match his older brother Aaron, who placed three times at the state tournament.

“Obviously Kai didn’t get to where he wanted to be,” Ridge coach Josh Deputy said, “but he’s good. He’s our kid that works year-round at it. He puts a lot of time and a lot of effort into it.

“He’s disappointed, but all in all, there’s nothing to shake a stick at it when you finish fifth in the state of Pennsylvania. The 113 weight class was also a pretty tough weight class.”

With the score at 3-1, Burkett rolled through a Walk headlock attempt for a takedown with a second left.

“He’s an awesome wrestler,” Walk said, “and I just had to go for something. If you lose by one or if you lose by 10, you still lost.”

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