Penn Hills native excels in state prep-school tournament
Nick Flanigan, 18, has plenty of experience with wrestling.
In addition to being the older of two brothers, Flanigan's father, Tim, wrestled at the University of South Florida. Nick Flanigan's younger brother wrestles at Linton Middle School.
Flanigan attends The Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., and placed second in the 145-pound division at the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Wrestling Tournament, held Feb. 15 and 16 at Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pa. Flanigan improved on his sixth-place finish last year.
On Feb. 23, he placed eighth in the National Prep Wrestling Championships held at Lehigh University, earning himself a designation as an All-American high school wrestler.
Tim Flanigan said he is proud of the influence wrestling has had on his sons.
“Participation in school athletics has had a very positive influence in their lives during their important formative years, and I highly recommend wrestling to all parents of young children,” he said. “The work ethic they learn carries over to their academics as well. Their efforts have already begun to open doors to opportunities that otherwise would not have been available to them.”
For Nick Flanigan, that means a chance to apply for admission into the U.S. Naval Academy. He spoke with The Progress recently about his wrestling career, the six-mile runs he takes during summer vacation and what he misses most about Penn Hills:
Q: What first got you interested in wrestling?
A: My dad was really the first person to introduce me to wrestling. I was swimming and playing football at the time when I switched over. I started when I was around 10. It's been a great experience so far, and I've learned a lot about hard work and perseverance through the sport. It's now a huge part of my life. I live and breathe wrestling.
Q: Was the Hill School's wrestling program part of your decision to attend there?
A: Yes. I wanted to grow as a wrestler and an athlete. At The Hill School, we're being taught by some of the best technicians in the country. We have about five to six coaches in the room every day, sometimes more. We're really learning and getting better as a team. In the next few years, I expect to see a resurgence in The Hill wrestling program.
Q: What do you enjoy most about wrestling?
A: The life lessons it has taught me. It's taught me how to work hard and be disciplined. It's almost impossible to catch me in the wrestling room without a smile on my face. It's like a second home to me.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge this season, wrestling-wise?
A: This season, the toughest challenge by far has been battling my weight. I walk around at about 160 pounds. I wrestle the 145-pound weight class, and I plan on going up several weight classes next year. Also, maintaining a positive attitude and fast-paced drilling when I walk into the (wrestling) room has been my goal every day.
Q: In the summers, what do you do to stay in wrestling shape when you're back in Penn Hills?
A: I attend club practices at multiple locations: Young Guns, PWC (Pitt), and Rob Waller's All American Wrestling Club. Many of my gym workouts in the summer are followed by a six-mile run from L.A. Fitness in Monroeville back to my house.
Q: When you're at school, what do you miss most about Penn Hills?
A: When I'm at school, the thing I miss most is my family, especially my little brother, Jake. Then I would have to say my friends from Linton Middle School. I wouldn't be where I am today without my family's support. My little brother plans to attend Hill next fall and wrestle as well. My brother and I love spending time at the Penn Hills skate park. We also love to visit our friends at Universal Pizza. We enjoy running to and from their restaurant, plus the run burns up a lot of the carbs.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.