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Burrell grad balances 3 sports at Penn State New Ken

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Penn State New Kensington's Casey Cavanaugh is a three-sport athlete at the school, playing basketball, soccer, and wrestling. Photographed at the school on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

Two-sport athletes are few and far between at the college level. Three-sport athletes are almost nonexistent.

Those odds don't seem to bother Penn State New Kensington's Casey Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh, 24, a 2007 Burrell graduate, participates in soccer, basketball and wrestling at the Upper Burrell campus.

Basketball and wrestling are in season.

Normally, the sports that student-athletes participate in during college are the ones they played in high school. While Cavanaugh did play soccer and basketball, he wasn't a wrestler.

“I wrestled up to the eighth grade, then I quit,” he said. “I wanted to focus on soccer.”

The PSNK wrestling team had a low turnout, with only six coming out for the team — not enough to fill a full lineup. According to Cavanaugh, this contributed to his decision to come out for the team. He wrestles in the 184-pound weight class.

“I picked it up to help the school and the program,” Cavanaugh said. “We had a low turnout this year. There weren't too many guys coming out, and the coach approached me and I did it to help the school.”

Cavanaugh said he has struggled to get into wrestling shape.

“It's a totally different sport,” he said. “It's not the same endurance as playing basketball and soccer. It's 100 percent for three minutes.”

PSNK first-year wrestling coach Derek Caldwell is looking forward to Cavanaugh gaining more experience.

“It's been kind of tough at first because of balancing wrestling, basketball and school,” Caldwell said. “It's been kind of a blessing and curse at the same time because he's such a hard worker. He wants to learn a lot on the mat. He's struggled to get on the mat and now that he's been on the mat consistently, he's doing really well.”

Soccer has been Cavanaugh's strong suit, as it was while playing at Burrell, where he helped the Bucs to a section title as a junior and was named an all-WPIAL defender as a senior.

During his freshman year at PSNK, Cavanaugh was a second-team all-conference defender as the soccer team reached the Penn State University Athletic Conference semifinals.

Cavanaugh played power forward during his first semester with the basketball team. This upcoming semester, he will make the switch to shooting guard.

Along with playing three sports, Cavanaugh also has to make time for his studies.

“It's tough,” Cavanaugh said. “The biggest thing is to keep your school up, and everything else falls into place. It's a 12-hour day with classes and team sports.”

While majoring in business marketing, Cavanaugh plans on doing all three sports next year. Come spring 2014, however, he may cut down on his schedule.

Talk about making weight.

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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