Q & A with Kittanning junior wrestler Jason Nolf
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After two trips to Hershey and two medal-winning performances in the PIAA Class AA individual wrestling championships, Kittanning junior Jason Nolf knows more about how to handle the three-day state tournament experience than the average wrestler.
Nolf, owner of a 128-1 career record and a top contender to win the 132-pound title, will get the chance to impart some of his wisdom to 195-pound senior teammate Zac Croyle, who is set to make his PIAA debut after placing second in the Southwest Region last weekend.
First-round bouts for Class AA begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at Giant Center. Medal matches start at 2 p.m. Saturday. Nolf opens with Bethlehem Catholic's Lee Todora.
Mixed in the middle of the action are long stretches of downtime, all of which allow opportunities for stress to build if wrestlers fail to find diversions.
Nolf's strategy for stress management: Eat and wander around places other than Giant Center. Q: What's one thing most people don't know about Hershey and states that you learned as a freshman?
JN: Coach (Brandon) Newill said I shouldn't think, ‘Oh wow, this is really big.' But I didn't really feel like that.
Q: What's your biggest piece of advice for Zac?
JN: Just wrestle your hardest and believe in yourself.
Q: What's the best way to kill time at Giant Center?
JN: I don't really spend a lot of time there. I wrestle, and then when my session is done, I go back to the hotel or go out and eat.
Q: What's the best way to kill time at the hotel?
JN: I just relax and lay on the bed. I watch TV. … I just watch the channels they give me.
Q: Where is the best place to eat in Hershey ?
JN: Red Robin.
Q: Even if you're watching weight?
JN: Yeah, I think I ate there two or three times last year. … I don't like burgers. After (the wrestling) is all done, I get chicken wings and some kind of dessert, an ice cream brownie or something. I like their fries, too. But if I go before, I get an apple-pecan salad or something.
Q: What's the best attraction to go see in Hershey?
JN: Giant Center— for the wrestling.
Q: Aside from wrestling, what's the best?
JN: We went to Chocolate World, I think it was. We made our own candy bars. … You can go through a tour and stuff, and they have a gift shop. We kind of just went on our own, though.
Q: Where's the best place in Giant Center to find peace and quiet?
JN: I don't really need to find peace. I'm always calm.
Q: Where's the place you go to get away from people. Like after you lost last year (in the PIAA semifinals)?
JN: I just went to the locker room.
Q: Where's the best place in Giant Center to watch the wrestling ?
JN: I'd rather be close. … Especially if you're just focused on one match, it's better to be close. But if you don't really care, I guess it doesn't matter where you sit.
Q: What's the best way to celebra te a state championship?
JN: Eating, ice cream and Dippin' Dots and stuff.
Q: What flavors of ice cream?
JN: I don't really care. Anything.
Q: What about pistachio ?
JN: I like pistachios.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
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