Sarbo’s heart was always with Lock Haven
Altoona Area High School senior Matt Sarbo has had his heart set on competing for the NCAA Division I Lock Haven State University wrestling program since he began thinking about his college destination.
Sarbo, a three-time Northwest Class 3A Regional and District 6 Class 3A Tournament champion, recently made his decision official by signing with Lock Haven.
“I think it will be a really well-fitting school for me,” Sarbo said of wrestling for Lock Haven, which competes in the Mid-American Conference in wrestling under the direction of head coach Scott Moore. “I have to be honest — Lock Haven was really the leading school for me from the start. I didn’t consider very many other places.
“They put a lot of effort into their athletes and I think they’re going to do the best that they can in bringing out my full potential.”
Sarbo’s potential features a very high ceiling. In three seasons of wrestling at Altoona, Sarbo has compiled an impressive career record of 103 wins and only 16 losses, with 49 true falls and 17 technical falls.
He won district and regional championships at 106 pounds his freshman season, 126 in his sophomore season, and at 132 last year as a junior.
Sarbo also earned a seventh-place medal in 2018 as a freshman at the PIAA Class 3A Tournament in Hershey.
Sarbo, who is set to compete at 138 pounds this year, exhibits a relentless offensive style on the mat that enables him to quickly rack up points on his opponents.
“His ability to score points on his opponents is definitely his strength,” Altoona coach Joel Gilbert said of Sarbo. “He can rack up points on anybody, and once he gets going, he’s tough to stop. His ability to score points and be offensive is probably his number one asset while competing.
“He’s put together three great years so far,” Gilbert added. “He’s a three-time district champ and a three-time regional champ. He seeks out great competition. He’s wrestled at some of the best events in the United States. He’s really excelled at the sport, he’s really done well, and we’re real proud of him.”
Sarbo will be very familiar with the surroundings at Lock Haven, where he plans to major in business. Three former Altoona High School wrestling standouts — Parker McClellan, C.J. Manley, and Brinton Simington — are members of the Lock Haven squad.
“I think Lock Haven is a great fit for Matt,” Gilbert said. “We already have a few wrestlers there who will take Matt under their wings, so he should feel comfortable in the environment, because he already knows a few people there.
“I believe that it will be a good environment in which Matt can excel and only get better.”
Sarbo, like other outstanding wrestlers, has pledged a year-round commitment to the sport. In the past, he has competed in top-notch offseason national tournaments like the Super 32 — which had been held in North Carolina each fall but was switched to Myrtle Beach, S.C. this season.
Sarbo did not make it to the Super 32 this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, but he has been working out for the past couple of months at the M2 Training Center in Pleasant Gap, near State College.
The facility is under the direction of former Penn State wrestling standout David Taylor.
“I’ve been going there three days a week, drilling and doing live wrestling,” Sarbo said. “I couldn’t go to the Super 32 this year, but I’m not going to let anything slow me down from my training. This is my senior year, and this means a lot to me.
“I’ve been doing a lot at home, I’ve been running, lifting with the weights that I have at the house, and when I go to practice, I don’t slow down at all.”
Sarbo is hoping that all the hard work will pay dividends if there is a scholastic wrestling season this winter and a PIAA tournament at the HersheyPark Arena in 2021.
He has some unfinished business in Hershey that he hopes to put the wraps on in his senior year.
“In the past, I haven’t done what I think is my best there,” Sarbo said. “It’s my senior year, and I just want to go out there and have fun, perform, get a chance to participate in the state tournament one more time, and get a shot at being successful at it.”