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Latrobe wrestling team looks to new coach

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Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

Coaching wrestling at Latrobe is like being the Steelers coach: Once you're in, you're in for a while.

Tad Harbert became the school's third in the past 40 seasons when he replaced Marc Billett, who retired after spending the past 40 seasons in the program, including the past 21 as head coach. Billett replaced Harbert's dad, Tom, as coach.

The younger Harbert said he has two great mentors as he embarks on his first season as the Wildcats' new boss.

“I've always looked up to my dad,” Tad Harbert said, “and Marc and I have been best friends. Marc hasn't been around, and I miss him. He's been busy, because he has a new grandchild and an acting career.”

Billett was cast in the movie “Foxcatcher” which is be filmed in the Pittsburgh area. He will play a coach.

“This is Tad's team,” Billett said. “I'll come around when I can.”

Billett was at the home opener against Connellsville on Saturday. He was honored prior to the match by the district and wrestling boosters for his dedication to the sport.

“I was overwhelmed by the honor,” Billett said. “It was an enjoyable night, and it was great to see a lot of my old wrestlers. It was a great match.”

Connellsville spoiled Harbert's debut, winning, 42-26. But with only a few returning starters and a very young team, Harbert expects an exciting season ahead.

The majority of the team consists of freshmen and sophomores.

Junior Zach Zavatsky (160-170 pounds), who placed eighth in the state in 2011-12, is the top returnee.

Seniors Eric Mills (120), Mitch Lesko (132) and Chris Frowen (160-170) are also back along with junior Logan Carns (182).

Harbert expects big things from Zavatsky and freshman Luke Pletcher (106-113), who placed third in the Super 32 tournament in October.

“We're going to be a young and growing team,” Harbert said. “There is going to be a learning curve. We're going to be competitive and will give teams a fight.

“I just want opponents to remember that they were given a solid match when they wrestle us. We're going to be a tough team to beat by the end of the season.”

Freshmen Jake Shaffer (138) and Ethan Stas (126), sophomores Luke Shaffer (145), Tyler Mears (285), Alec Hooper (152) and Travis Schmeling (195) and juniors Dylan Davis (220) and Dylan Kovatch (220) are expected to have solid seasons.

“We have some raw talent,” Harbert said. “That's going to make for an exciting season. These wrestlers work hard, and it's going to be fun to watch them grow.”

Latrobe will compete in the always tough King of the Mountain Tournament at Central Mountain High School near Lock Haven on Friday and Saturday,

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-836-5095.

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