BVA wrestling has great feeder system
Tim Ayersman comes from a solid wrestling background.
You could definitely say the sport is in his blood.
As a wrestler at Waynesburg Central, he wrestled for WPIAL championship teams in 1988 and 1989.
His coach was his father, Joe Ayersman, who guided five WPIAL title teams at Waynesburg and is in the state's wrestling hall of fame.
Ayersman has been coaching the Belle Vernon Area Junior High program for the past two seasons and his teams have gone 23-1 under his tutelage.
He sent seven wrestlers to BVA's varsity program for the past season and all enjoyed success for coach Jack Jolley's Leps.
Ayersman's hard work and effort as a coach have not been overlooked.
He recently was honored by the WPIAL as the WPIAL Class AAA Junior High Coach of the Year.
“I was kind of surprised by that,” Ayersman said. “I guess I didn't expect it.”
Ayersman won't take much credit for his team's success, instead handing it off to the commitment of his wrestlers and their parents.
“Our success is due to the hard-working kids we have who put the time in and their parents who do everything that needs to be done to help their kids be successful,” he said. “The parents have done so much. They take these kids to camps, clinics, wrestling clubs and tournaments — sometimes two in a weekend. It's that kind of hard work that makes the program successful.”
One of Ayersman's wrestlers has been especially successful the last two years. Jarod Verkleeren, an eighth grader at Bellmar Middle School, has been undefeated in two seasons for the junior high team. He was 28-0 last season and 27-0 this season with all 27 wins coming via pins.
“Jarod is one of those kids that comes along once in a lifetime,” Ayersman said. “He is a focused kid and whatever he sets his mind to, he does.
“He's the best I have had. He's pinned every kid he's faced and I'm looking forward to see what he does on the varsity level.”
Verkleeren achieved a rare accomplishment last weekend while participating in the State College Wrestling Tournament at Penn State. He won the 140-pound title in both the junior high and varsity divisions.
“That is extremely rare,” Ayersman said. “That's the kind of ability he has.”
Verkleeren is the son of Gary and Tammy Verkleeren of Belle Vernon.
Ayersman said the key for wrestlers, like any athlete, to be successful is to put the time in.
“You have to work at what you are doing all the time, not just during the season,” he said. “My kids are doing that. They are hungry and they want to win.”
Ayersman will be taking a team to the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling Championships in Hershey March 22-23.
The tournament is for elementary and junior high wrestlers up to age 14.
“I'm really looking forward to seeing what the kids do in that tournament,” he said.
Judging by what the Little Leps have done under Ayerman's watch the last two seasons, it should be a banner weekend.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.