Virginia Tech a perfect fit for Latrobe grappler Zavatsky

| Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Latrobe High School wrestler Zack Zavatsky isn't looking to simply take the easy or convenient route.

So that's why when it came to deciding where he will wrestle in college, the rising senior chose Virginia Tech over schools like Virginia, Lehigh and local powerhouse Pitt.

“People from my school and around the area just go to Pittsburgh, and it's like the easy way,” Zavatsky said. “I just wanted to kind of venture out and go to a different place.”

Coming off their first ever ACC Championship, Zavatsky said he feels the Hokies are a wrestling program on the rise and just felt it was the right fit for him after visiting the campus twice unofficially.

“I just see them as having a strong program the last couple years and some strong individuals,” he said. “You can definitely see the progress over the years. They've been climbing up the hill.

“Ever since going there the first time, just getting the tour around and talking to coach (Tony) Robie and (Kevin) Dresser, they were down to earth people and just seemed like the place I wanted to go.”

He will be joined there by fellow WPIAL wrestler and Canon-McMillan standout Solomon Chisko, a friend of Zavatsky's from club wrestling who will certainly help ease the transition to living away from home.

“That kind of helped a little bit knowing that I'm not the only one going out there from around this area.”

“Virginia Tech is getting a great wrestler and an even better person,” Latrobe wrestling coach Tad Harbert said. “I'm happy for him. He's such a hard worker and it paid off for him.”

When it came down to making a decision, Zavatsky said despite the departure of longtime Pitt wrestling coach Rande Stottlemyer, he still really likes the Panthers and their current coaching staff but just felt better about being in Blacksburg, Va. with the Hokies.

“I like Pitt, I've trained at Pitt sometimes during the season. … I like it down there, it's just I want to get out and try to explore different places,” he said.

Entering his senior season with a 124-18 career record, including going 42-2 last season, Zavatsky has already claimed back-to-back WPIAL titles at 160 pounds.

But after finishing third in the PIAA championships last season, Zavatsky — who plans to wrestle around 180 pounds next season — has his sights set on a state title to conclude his illustrious high school career.

“Obviously, I want to be a state champion at the end,” he said. “It's what I've been training my whole high school career for.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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