Highlands' Wise thrives with wrestling team he helped salvage
By Bill West
Published: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 1:16 a.m.
As he attended monthly Highlands school board meetings during most of 2013, Nolan Wise questioned the impact of his efforts to save the Golden Rams wrestling team.
Until he motivated more than 30 boys to show up for a meeting and pushed the board to hire a coach in early October, Wise wondered if there would be a team for the 2013-14 season.
Halfway through his senior year, Wise now understands how significant of a role he played in saving the program, which suffered from a shortage of participants. But program savior is not the legacy Wise wants.
He wants to go down in Highlands history as one of its standouts on the mat.
The next several months will determine Wise's place in the Golden Rams' record books. The 152-pounder welcomes the opportunity to finish his time as a Highlands wrestler with more teammates — 20, with possibly more to come — than he has had at any point in his varsity career.
“When there was such a small team, I felt like there was a lot of pressure on me, individually,” said Wise, one of Highlands' six wrestlers last season. “It felt like the coaches had a lot more riding on me solely. So this has kind of taken the pressure off.
“Also, bus rides are a little more fun now. We actually take a full bus — I haven't taken a full bus to a wrestling tournament in so long. I've been taking vans to wrestling tournaments the past couple years.”
As a sophomore at Shady Side Academy, Wise belonged to a team with six other members. He returned to Highlands last season and went 18-11 as a 138-pounder who reached the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament.
With considerable scheduling efforts made by first-year coach Grant Walters, Wise has more chances to test his abilities this season — Highlands, which only wrestled in individual tournaments a season ago, has competed in dual matches on an almost weekly basis. Wise improved to 9-2 on the season last weekend, as he took fourth place in the Steve DeAugustino Holiday Classic at West Mifflin High School.
Walters, a 2006 Burrell graduate, believes Wise is a prime example for Highlands' newer wrestlers to emulate.
“The intensity level between him and the new guys is completely different,” said Walters, who was hired in October. “I do give credit to his past coaches that brought him up this way. Coming from Burrell, that's the way we always practiced, so I understand the way he practices. The new guys, they don't understand it. They think he's going way too hard, but that's just the way he goes.”
Wise and fellow seniors Zach Mazur (5-4 at 170 pounds), Derrick Mazur (3-0 at 182), Kendric Moore (6-3 at 126), Tommy Grates (4-4 at 160) and Mike Brell (2-5 at 285) make up the core of Highlands, which was 4-2 in dual matches through December.
Highlands' future hopes rest with junior Cameron Johns (7-4 at 106), who placed sixth in the DeAugustino Holiday Classic, as well as freshmen Richard Fox (4-4 at 138), Cameron Clark (3-5 at 132) and Nathan Hoover (3-5 at 113).
“These younger guys, they're moving faster than they normally would, which is good for me and good for them as well,” Walters said. “Hopefully in the future here we'll have some good go-arounds with these other schools.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Nolf’s lone career loss serves as catalyst for continued excellence
- Norwin’s Phipps places 4th at PIAA Class AAA finals
- Valley, Burrell advance 3 wrestlers each at state wrestling tournament
- Griffiths, Beistel have high expectations at states
- Penn-Trafford’s Coy breaks through for WPIAL title
- Southmoreland sends 2 to PIAA tournament
- A-K Valley campus clippings: PSNK sends all 3 wrestlers to nationals
- 9 WPIAL wrestlers hope to finish season unbeaten
- Fox Chapel wrestlers end solid season
- Bethel Park’s Dunn continues hot streak at PIAA tournament
- Franklin Regional wrestler backs up his words with 1st state title