New Latrobe wrestling coach comes full circle
TribLIVE Sports Videos
To say Tad Harbert is ready to take over as Latrobe High School's head wrestling coach is an understatement.
Harbert has had the education of a lifetime as the son of Pennsylvania State Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Tom “Legs” Harbert and then serving 11 years as an assistant under another Hall of Famer and recently retired Wildcats coach — Marc Billett.
“I couldn't give enough thanks to my dad and Coach Billett. They are two of the most major positive influences in my life,” Harbert said. “They've given me all of the core values and the tools that are necessary to be a good head coach.”
A 1986 graduate of Latrobe, Harbert naturally took to the mat at a young age. In junior high, he wrestled for Billett before his father coached him in high school. During that time under his father, Harbert won three Westmoreland County championships and two section titles.
His career as a wrestler ended after one year at Millersville. Then, his father retired in 1991 only to be replaced by Billett. In a fit of fate, Harbert took up coaching and, in 2001, received a call from Billett, who just so happened to be looking for an assistant.
“It's funny how things come full circle,” Harbert said. “It's been kind of a neat cycle with the way things panned out.”
After 40 years of coaching, 21 as a head coach, and posting a 218-104-4 record with four section titles among numerous other accolades, Billett retired at the team's annual banquet this past year. Latrobe athletic director Mark Mears and the school board made the obvious choice in replacing the Wildcats lifer.
“He's part of a wrestling family from Latrobe.” Mears said. “He's a fiery young guy.”
Harbert takes command of a Latrobe team that finished 9-9 last season and won a second straight Westmoreland County Coaches Association title. Despite losing Eric Shaffer, who placed seventh at the PIAA tournament at 189 pounds, and WPIAL runner-up Ty Lydic (130), Latrobe has talent coming up the ranks.
“I do have a good crew coming in,” Harbert said. “They have their goals set high and they're just great kids. I expect us to be competitive.”
The returning group includes PIAA qualifier Zack Zavatsky, WPIAL qualifier Tyler Mears and rising freshman Luke Bletcher, who defeated a PIAA champion this summer.
“I don't have any expectations except to just focus on the team and the kids, make sure I can do everything to help them achieve their goals on and off the mat,” Harbert said. “If I can do that, I know everything's going to be all right.”
The passing of the torch couldn't be more seamless, or fitting, for Latrobe as the storied wrestling program looks to continue the legacy of winning established by the passion and dedication of two legends — legends that taught the newest Wildcats' coach everything he knows.
“I think our program will be in great hands,” Mears said.
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Opposing defenses find success against Steelers by eschewing blitz
- Steelers looking for Spence to step up game at inside linebacker
- Monessen police break up fight
- Pittsburgh author: ‘Supernatural’ generally can be explained
- Scottdale appoints borough solicitor
- Western Pennsylvania residents chill about forecasters’ spat
- Customers rarely utilize right to cancel a contract
- Large-scale batteries are integral in shift to renewable energy
- Shale oil, gas finds put Mon Valley on path to renaissance, leaders say
- Jobs are focus in 52nd District House race in Westmoreland, Fayette
- Harrisburg insider, newcomer battle over change in Pa.’s 46th Senate District