Knoch grad Elliott hopes to fulfill potential on mat at W&J

(right) Blaine Elliott places a hold on Nate Vukovich during wrestling practice at The Mat Factory in Lower Burrell on Tuesday June 11, 2013.
(right) Blaine Elliott places a hold on Nate Vukovich during wrestling practice at The Mat Factory in Lower Burrell on Tuesday June 11, 2013.
Photo by Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
| Saturday, July 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Had injuries not plagued his scholastic wrestling career at Knoch, Blaine Elliott might have been the program's best.

Coach Mark McLaughlin believes he'd have won more than 100 matches.

All of the what-ifs aside, Elliott is set for what he hopes is a healthy and successful college career on the mat.

Elliott has committed to wrestle at Washington & Jefferson College. The 132-pounder also considered Waynesburg, Clarion and Mercyhurst.

Elliot finished with a 72-35 record. He qualified for the PIAA/WPIAL Class AAA Southwest Regional Championships and took fourth at the Section 3-AAA tournament.

The road to compiling the 72 wins was a bumpy one. Elliott had to overcome numerous injuries, including a dislocated elbow during his freshman year.

“I was wrestling at the Valley Duals, and I was wrestling Shady Side against (Penn State recruit) Frankie Martellotti,” Elliott said. “He was a senior, and I was a freshman. He picked me up, and I posted it out, and when I hit, my elbow popped the other way. There was a trainer there, and they put it back on the spot.”

After his freshman year, Elliott trained at the Mat Factory in Lower Burrell. He then harnessed his skills and was able to avoid the injury bug his sophomore year en route to setting the school record for wins by a sophomore with 25.

His senior year, however, was different. Midway through the season, he suffered a minor medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear, along with a pulled groin.

“It was rough because it's my senior year, and we were in the heat of the season and sections were coming up fast,” Elliott said.

“I had been training all summer, and that's what you train for and I got hurt and didn't know if I would come back.

“I did (return) a week before sections. I had to wear a knee brace while wrestling. I made it to the third day of WPIALs.”

As a senior, Elliott contributed intangibles. McLaughlin, who is in his seventh year coaching the program, knows Elliott's contributions will be difficult to replace.

“I think he contributed a lot of maturity, leadership and dedication,” McLaughlin said.

“Blaine has raised the bar for the program. He's raised the bar for a lot of things in the sense that he has been successful on the mat, and he's also successful in the classroom. I think that's the way we want to raise the bar.”

Elliott is the third Knoch wrestler to commit to a college program, joining Grayson Hixon (Penn State New Kensington) and Brittney Faust (Missouri Valley).

Knoch started its wrestling program in 2006.

Elliott will major in biology and cited the school's reputation for its biology program as one of the main reasons he choose Washington & Jefferson.

He also would like to attend medical school after college.

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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