After what the Kiski Area freshman wrestler has been through over the past year, the idea that he's even competing again seems unlikely and far-fetched.
The optimistic 15-year-old has battled injuries throughout his still-budding career. He's had surgery on his hip, shoulder and thumb. But his most recent affliction arguably has been the most trying.
Worthing continues to recover from a quarter-sized pilonidal cyst on his tailbone, an ailment that developed while he was recovering from hip surgery in the offseason.
Essentially, surgery left a small, still-healing hole in Worthing's lower back.
“I was working on a drill in practice and I fell back and hit my butt,” he said. “It was a shooting pain like I had never felt before. That's when we noticed (the cyst).”
Worthing (26-9, 13 pins) has continued to wrestle, with a bandage over the wound. He will compete in the 170-pound weight class at Saturday's Section 1-AAA individual tournament at Gateway — the first step in his postseason debut and what he hopes is the start of achieving his goal of reaching the state tournament in Hershey.
“I learned a work ethic at a young age,” Worthing said. “I guess it comes from practicing in the living room with my dad. I learned to suck it up.”
Worthing had three different surgeries from February to April.
“He has a high tolerance for pain,” said his mother, Angela. “He keeps fighting. Some kids take time off to heal and rest. Not Tyler.”
A reoccuring and painful hip injury last wrestling season turned out to be a torn labrum and required surgery. The extent of the injury wasn't diagnosed until he went to the hospital for a broken thumb. While there, he requested his hip get checked.
“When it's on the line, he wants to win and compete,” Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said. “He finds a way to be able to go, despite all he's been through. He has really been through some adversity.”
Following treatment, which left an 8-inch scar, doctors decided they didn't want Worthing to put pressure on his hip and hand, so he was placed in a wheelchair for a month. He was confined to a doctor's bed in his home and missed two months of school. It was in that time the cyst developed.
“That's been the real bugger to heal,” Angela Worthing said.
There were times early in the season when his mother would change the dressing on the 3-inch wound during matches.
“It was pretty nasty,” Tyler said. “It would close up, but then I could tell when it would split open again.”
For three months, Worthing was aided by a fanny-pack-sized Medevac system. The small bag was strapped to his waist and tubing ran under his clothing to help drain the abscess. Worthing also has undergone treatment for an umbilical hernia, a protrusion of the abdominal lining around the belly button.
Worthing's injuries led to weight fluctuation — he was 203 pounds at one point but dropped to 157 last year. He's weighed in at 182 much of this season.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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