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This article isn’t 100 percent mine. I had some help this week and I want to acknowledge a few people: Ryan & Nikki MacWhinnie, Stacey Silvestri, and Tioga Youth Wrestling provided me with a portion of this article. Thank you.

In all sports, the families on a team do become closer as the season progresses. However, I don’t believe any sport brings families closer together than the sport of wrestling. I believe it is due to the one-on-one challenges faced by the participants. This results in an “extended wrestling family” that shares a common bond.

I know I have countless members that I consider a part of my “wrestling family.” Two of those members Ryan and Brandon MacWhinnie — I have known for several years.  My memories of these two go back to when they first started wrestling, continued to Ryan and I wrestling for Athens Area High School, followed by coaching against Brandon at the college level, and currently watching Ryan’s sons and my sons participating in the sport.

These two pretty much back me when I ask for help. A few years ago, The Tioga Kid, helped me run a club during the summer. This year, Ryan, started his season earlier so Tioga Youth could participate in the Valley Border Brawl.

When I saw the Tioga Youth Wrestling was hosting a tournament on Sunday, Jan. 26, I knew it was something I wanted to share and promote. Most programs use the youth tournament as a way to raise funds. However, the Tigers have added a twist. Half of the proceeds will be donated to Achieve & Institute for Child Development.

I contacted Ryan to ask for some information on the event. The following is what the Tioga Youth Wrestling shared with me. As soon as I read it, I knew I needed to share it.

"Who knew that when our little boys started wrestling we would gain family members?  It’s not very common to find a group of people through your children's sporting events that you choose to spend the 'off season' with.  Our wrestling club is a very tight-knit group. 

"One of our wrestlers has a brother, Jared who is autistic. The group has quickly adopted him as our own.   At wrestling tournaments Jared likes to be one of the boys.  I'll never forget when we were at a local tournament.  It was time for skin checks, so all of the youth wresters were down on the mat having their skin checked. Jared took his shirt off and quickly joined the others on the mat. 

"The kids love Jared.  Through seeing Jared's differences our kids have all become better people.  They don't see Jared as having a disability.  We all see a bright, fun, unique boy with a great sense of humor.  Our kids embrace other kids with disabilities as a result of their interactions with Jared.

"Our wrestling club wanted to raise awareness about autism.  We want to make as much of an impact on children's lives with autism as they have made on our lives."

Wrestlers deserving a little credit:
Gage Cannavino is having a solid year for the ‘Cats. According to his stats on the NWCA online, he is 14-9 with 10 pins.

Tyler Harbst is a freshman at Sayre. Tyler is having a good year and I look forward to seeing him grow in the future.
Jacob Schroyer is a fun Wolverine wrestler to watch. Schroyer can pin his opponent from anywhere. Currently, 13 out of his 17 wins are pins.

Looking at the Tigers, I want to recognize Aaron Shipman. Shipman is having a solid year with a current record of 15-7.

What to Watch and Challenge of the Week:

Support Tioga Youth wrestling while they take down Autism. The event will take place on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 9:00 a.m.

From the young Tigers: Please take time out of your day to stop by and make a donation and check out some wrestling.  You never know, maybe we will see Jared wrestle.

At this time, I do not have the times and sites for the Section IV Duals. However, if you are looking for some high school wrestling action on Friday and Saturday, then make sure you grab a mat-side seat for this tournament.

A few teams are getting hot and I have a feeling there will be some upsets in Section IV. Tioga and Waverly both should be competing in this tournament.

Looking for more wrestling?
I always love reading wrestling articles. Here is a great article giving the readers a look at one of the coaches.
Here is a nice video on Towanda wrestling. Towanda is a program that always has high numbers. According to Coach Sexton, he has 31 wrestlers on his roster. Using the PIAA classification, Towanda has 13.7 percent of the males out for the sport of wrestling. Having that many kids on the roster is unheard of today.

The pride that Towanda has in its wrestling program is pretty unbelievable. Coach Sexton does a great job on getting the guys out for the team. Keep up the good work.


Brett Owen is a graduate of Athens Area High and Shippensburg University. Upon graduating from Ship, he started teaching at Pocono Mountain School District and coaching at the University of Scranton. In 2005, he moved back to work for his father at Owen Insurance Agency which he purchased in 2011. After taking a year off from coaching, he joined Waverly as a volunteer coach until 2012.

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