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Golden Eagle wrestling squad returns strong nucleus for 2002-03

Last season the Tyrone wrestling team usually jumped out to a fast start in the lightweights and finished with many a sure win at heavyweight. The Eagles finished only 5-8 in dual meets, however, because they couldn’t field enough warm bodies in between and were forced to forfeit three or four weight classes in every dual meet.
For the new campaign, Eagles coach Blair Packer, who coached Tyrone to their 400th overall victory during his first season at the helm and his 200th personal win during last season, has no farther to look for team leaders both on and off the mat in a strong group of returning lettermen from last season.
“We just adopt the attitude that our “killer” schedule prepares the guys for the postseason tournaments,” said coach Packer. “The predominantly Triple-A Class teams that we wrestle during the season like Philipsburg-Osceola, State College and Bald Eagle Area, help us when we get to the Districts and Regionals. Preparation is the key and we have by the time the post season comes around, already wrestled many of the best wrestlers in the state.”
The philosophy worked to perfection last season, when Tyrone sent five wrestlers through Districts to the Southwest Regionals at UPJ. Senior Dan Miller and sophomore Thad Westley each advanced to Regionals for the second time and senior Derrick Moore and freshmen Terry Tate and Dave Miller made their initial trips.
“We have nine returning lettermen,” explained Packer. “When you get that many returning lettermen, you get a nucleus that should be able to pull the other weight classes along.”
Westley (29-6) paved the way in 2001-02 leading the team in wins, reversals, two- and three-point nearfalls and team points, tied for first in major decisions and was in the top three in tech falls, match points, takedowns and pins. Just a junior, Westley already can claim credit for 50 wins, was third at Districts and was one win short of going to the State Tournament at Hershey last year.
David Miller compiled a 23-11 mark as a freshman, and was in the top three in team stats in eight different categories. David finished second at Districts, the highest finish for Tyrone and won two matches in his first try at Regionals.
Terry Tate was a light heavyweight who had to wrestle people two or three years older and 20-50 pounds heavier and still was able to compile a 21-12 record, in addition to placing at three inseason tournaments and earn a berth to Regionals with a third place finish at Districts.
Dane McCloskey got the Golden Eagles off to many fast starts last season at 103 during his first season on the varsity. McCloskey (21-11) was second in falls and major decisions so the start was often a big one with added bonus points. Dane won the Blair County Tournament, the only returning wrestler to earn a tournament crown last year and with a sixth place, was one win away at Districts from becoming the sixth Eagle to qualify for a spot at Regionals.
Brett Harris, a Regional qualifier in 2001, also returns for his senior season. Out of the lineup for various causes, Brett managed to make the most of opportunities to post a 15-6 mark in 2001-02 in a season that ended prior to the District Tournament.
Figure in seniors J. D. Shaw and Blake Cowfer, junior Tom Crowl, sophomore Brice Mertiff who were starters for all or parts of last season with a good crop of kids coming up from the junior high and it should be an interesting season.
“When you get Dane McCloskey at 119, and Thad Westley at 125, and Brett Harris and Dave Miler, those four have proven over and over to be formidable opponents,” said Packer. “I expect them to hold that lower-middle area, along with J. D. Shaw, a three-year starter at 140, then a new kid in Adam Swayne at 145. At 152, you can never count Brice Mertiff out. He was in matches last year where I though he was going to be beaten and he kept coming back on kids to beat them. Tom Crowl at 160 is another kid who was proving himself towards the end of last season be a game wrestler who will just come at you constantly. What can you say about Blake Cowfer, he is a leader. He is a leader by example, nobody drills harder than Blake. He is a team wrestler all the way around. He will move to any weight you ask him to. You ask him if he wants to move and he replies, ‘wherever you want me to go, coach’. At 275, in Terry Tate, we’ve got an anchor up there, I wouldn’t trade him for any other anchor in the district. Some have placed higher, but I wouldn’t trade him for anyone.”
Tyrone graduated just three seniors from last year’s squad and one of the three was lost due to injury during a Christmas Tournament and was out for the rest of the year. While Dan Miller and Derrick More will definitely be missed, their absence will be helped by the return of the young wrestlers, who proved their mettle on the mat last year and will be the leaders by example this year.
Dane McCloskey (103), Thad Westley (112) and David Miller (119) were selected to the Central Wrestling Conference First Team All-stars and Brett Harris (125), and Terry Tate were named to the CWC Second Team. Westley and Harris made the All-Mountain League First Team and Tate and Miller were chosen for the All-Mountain Second Team.
“As a group of coaches, we have high expectations for this season,” said coach Packer. “And I can see it in the kids that they have high expectations also. They have a great attitude and a good work ethic. They seem to enjoy going through the drills. That is always a great sign.”
The Golden Eagle wrestling team opens their 2002-03 season tonight at home against Moshannon Valley. Junior High action begins at 6 p.m., followed by any junior varsity wrestling and the varsity dual will get underway at at 7:30 p.m.
Tyrone’s Wrestling Line-up
103 Robert Waite (fresh.)
112 Richard Klapper(soph.)
119 Dane McCloskey (jun.)
125 Thad Westley (jun.)
130 Brett Harris (sen.)
135 David Miller (soph.)
140 J. D. Shaw (sen.)
145 Adam Swayne (soph.)
152 Brice Mertiff (soph.)
160 Tom Crowl (jun.)
171 Crowl or Blake Cowfer (sen.)
189 Cowfer or Justin Clark (jun.)
215 Justin Clark
275 Terry Tate (soph.)