Kiski Area coaches give wrestlers incentives for pins
Kiski Area will open the WPIAL Class AAA wrestling playoffs Wednesday night, and aside from the normal pep-talk stuff, coaches will have one simple instruction for their wrestlers: Just pin everybody.
Why not? The Cavaliers have been doing so with punishing regularity all season. Referees probably have sore palms from slapping the mat so much.
And thanks to assistant coach Chris Heater's “Smack To Your Back Club,” winning by fall has become the team's mantra.
No matter how quiet it gets at Kiski Area matches — which isn't often — you can always hear a pin drop.
Kiski Area (14-1), which is seeded fifth and faces McGuffey on Wednesday night at Connellsville, has 132 pins, an average of 8.8 per match. In other words, the Cavaliers pin more than half of their opponents.
“Chris started this thing years ago,” Cavaliers coach Chuck Tursky said. “We want to pin you. That's what we set out to do all the time.”
Heater gives out T-shirts for pins that happen in the least amount of time.
“We started this in 2003,” Heater said. “Chuck and I were at the state tournament the year before, and we're watching Easton and North Hampton, powerhouse teams. It's amazing to see their kids; there's 10 seconds left and they're still trying to pin you. We said, ‘How do you change the mindset on our team? How do you get guys to go after pins?' ”
The answer is incentive. A white shirt goes to pins in 0-25 seconds, while 26- to 45-second pins get a gray one.
“The person with the most falls in the least amount of time gets a trophy at the banquet,” Heater said. “Last year, we had a tie for the first time, with (Matt) McCutcheon and (Shane) Kuhn.
“This whole thing has really paid off over the years.”
Last year the team posted 180 pins, including a combined 80 by its top three wrestlers. This year, six individuals have 10 or more wins by fall.
Junior 285-pounder Shane Kuhn leads the team with 21 pins, followed by senior 195-pounder Matt McCutcheon (19), junior Mitch Nagy (106, 15), freshman Tyler Worthing (182, 12) and seniors Kyle Skelly (152) and Cole Landowski (10 apiece).
“I love (the pin club),” McCutcheon said. “This way, our team is always going for the quickest pin.”
McCutcheon's nickname is “Mouse” but just as well could be “Kingpin.” He is the school's career pins leader with 91. He hasn't been taken down in two years. Needless to say, his dresser drawer is overflowing with T-shirts.
“Some guys strive to get 100 wins in their careers,” Heater said. “Matt has over 100 wins and will probably have more than 100 pins. That is ridiculous.”
While on the subject of milestones, McCutcheon, a Penn State recruit, also has 146 career wins, three shy of the school record held by Tyler Oravec.
Tursky is the WPIAL's all-time leader in coaching wins with 473.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor for the Valley News Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.