Kittanning's Jason Nolf named Trib Total Media wrestler of the year
When he had a few free minutes before or after his high school wrestling practices, Kittanning senior Jason Nolf sometimes wandered across the hallway outside his team's locker room and onto the high school's basketball court.
Nolf's visits usually turned into short shootarounds with members of the girls or boys varsity basketball teams, as the wrestling standout seized opportunities to dabble in the sport he occasionally considered choosing over a mat-centric life during his earliest days as an athlete.
While his basketball skills might've earned him respect among his Kittanning schoolmates, Nolf's wrestling abilities made him a WPIAL legend.
By pinning a previously unbeaten opponent in the 145-pound finals of the PIAA Class AA championships in March, Nolf finished his career as a three-time state champion and four-time WPIAL champ with a record of 176-1. He earned the PIAA Class AA's Outstanding Wrestler award and finished the high school season ranked No. 1 in the country among 145-pounders by Flowrestling.
In his senior individual postseason, Nolf pinned 12 of the 13 opponents he faced; the other result was a 16-4 major decision.
Nolf, who has signed with Penn State, was the 13th WPIAL wrestler and 40th in the PIAA to finish his career with three state titles. Among the 40 three-timers, Nolf had the second-highest win percentage and was tied for third-most in total wins.
His lone loss came in the 2012 PIAA semifinals, when he dropped a 6-4 decision to eventual champ Ryan Diehl of District 3's Trinity.
For the dominance he displayed in his final days as a Kittanning wrestler, Nolf is Trib Total Media's 2014 Wrestler of the Year.
Who was your favorite opponent from your high school career?
(Bethlehem Catholic's) Darian Cruz, from my freshman year. He was my favorite opponent because after that match, I grew tremendous amounts of self-confidence.
Who is one person you wished you had the chance to wrestle at the high school level?
Aaron Pico (formerly of St. John Bosco in California), because until he stopped high school wrestling (as a junior to pursue a professional MMA career), he was ranked ahead of me nationally, and I would've liked the opportunity to wrestle him.
Who did you model your wrestling style after when you started competing at the high school level?
I've been modeling my style after (Penn State's) David Taylor because I love the way he wrestles and how he is constantly scoring points. I change it up a little, though.
What have you done with all of your medals?
The first two years that I won states (2011 and 2013), I put my section through state medals in shadow boxes in my room along with some pictures. I plan to do the same with this year's medals. Other than that, I just put my medals on my dresser or wherever they fit.
When you're standing on top of a medal stand and you have to wait there as everyone does the picture-taking routine, what is going through your head?
I don't really think when I'm on top of the podium. I just feel like the hard work has paid off again.
Your career was somewhat unique in that you went from 103 to 152 pounds. Did you ever daydream about wrestling your entire career as a lightweight, or, on the flip side, imagine yourself going even heavier?
I have always figured that I would gain a lot of weight because my dad is pretty big, so I knew that I wasn't going to be a lightweight for life.
What's your preferred way to lose weight when you need to shed a few pounds? And what's one form of weight-losing you refuse to use?
I usually just put a sweatshirt and sweatpants on and run on the treadmill, or I just get a wrestling workout in because those two seem to work the best. I refuse to take laxatives or anything like that because that is pretty much cheating.
What are some superstitions/traditions you have/had as part of your practice or pre-match routine?
I do squats, and I pray before every wrestling match.
If you had a chance to go back in time and wrestle that PIAA semifinal against Diehl again, what would you change about the way you prepared for that match?
I probably wouldn't have changed my warm-up, but I would've changed the way I actually wrestled in the match. I didn't wrestle to my full potential. I would've attacked more.
What are your ultimate, long-term goals as a wrestler?
My ultimate goal is to become a four-time undefeated national champion. I haven't really thought about entering the Olympics, but if I do, then that will be my goal.
If you'd picked and stuck with basketball over wrestling when you liked both as a kid, how do you think you would've turned out as a varsity player?
I would've still strived to become the best. I would've worked hard until I became the best.
How long have you been a mathlete, and do you take it anywhere near as seriously as wrestling?
I have been a mathlete team member for my senior year only, but I have always been a mathlete at heart.
You're a big fan of post-tournament ice cream, so what is your favorite brand, flavor and form?
I don't even know if I have a favorite flavor of ice cream because it's all pretty much good. I do love going to Dairy Queen on Mondays with my friends to get Moolattes. I get a Caramel Moolatte with peanut butter.
Franklin Regional, Jr., 106
2013-14 record: 37-0
Brown won his second straight PIAA title, this season in AAA, with a 7-6 victory against Northampton's Dan Moran. He also won WPIAL, Section 1, Powerade and WCCA titles. He has 132-10 career record.
Canon-McMillan, Sr., 145
2013-14 record: 27-3
The Virginia Tech recruit won his second PIAA AAA title with a 7-2 victory against Father Judge senior Joe Galasso. He also won WPIAL and Section 4 titles and is a four-time WPIAL champion with a 128-10 record.
Central Catholic, Sr., 170
2013-14 record: 30-3
Coniker finished second in the PIAA Class AAA finals, falling 14-2 to four-time PIAA champion Chance Marsteller. He also won WPIAL, Section 3 and Allegheny County titles. He has an 89-18 career record.
Penn-Trafford, Fr., 132
2013-14 record: 39-5
Coy won the PIAA AAA title with a 2-1 victory against Nazareth senior Chase Zemenak. He also won WPIAL and Eastern Area titles. He is the second P-T wrestler and first freshman to win a state title.
Burrell, Sr., 152
2013-14 record: 46-4
Edwards won the PIAA AA title with a 7-5 overtime victory over Southern Columbia sophomore Blake Marks. He also won WPIAL, Section 3, regional, Bedford and KOM titles. He has a 142-37 career record.
Central Catholic, Jr., 138
2013-14 record: 40-3
Joseph won his first PIAA Class AAA title with an overtime pin of Franklin Regional junior Michael Kemerer. He also won WPIAL, Section 3 and Allegheny County titles and has a 105-20 career record.
Franklin Regional, Jr., 138
2013-14 record: 41-2
Kemerer finished second in the state for the third consecutive season after he was pinned by Central Catholic junior Vincenzo Joseph in overtime. He won Section 1, Powerade and WCCA titles and has a 118-9 record.
Kiski Area, Sr., 285
2013-14 record: 40-2
Kuhn finished third in the state after losing to PIAA champion Thomas Haines of Solanco title in the semifinals. He won WPIAL, Section 1, WCCA and Eastern Area titles. He has a 136-20 career record.
Franklin Regional, Fr., 113
2013-14 record: 49-0
The No. 1 ranked freshman in the country, he won the PIAA Class AAA title with a 15-5 victory against General McLane's Joe Wheeling. He also won Ironman, Powerade, WCCA, WPIAL and Section 1 titles.
Canon-McMillan, Sr., 126
2013-14 record: 40-2
The Cornell recruit won the PIAA Class AAA title with a 5-1 victory over Northampton senior Zach Valley. He also won titles at the WPIAL, Section 4 and Powerade tournaments and has a 133-15 career record.
Latrobe, So., 120
2013-14 record: 43-0
Pletcher won his second PIAA AAA title with a 3-1 OT victory over Pennridge senior Scott Parker. He also won WPIAL, Section 1, Powerade, WCCA and King of the Mountain titles and has an 84-2 career record.
Franklin Regional, Jr., 152
2013-14 record: 41-5
Shields finished second in the PIAA Class AAA 152-pound finals, falling to Cumberland Valley senior T.C. Warner, 4-3. He also won WPIAL, Section 1, Powerade and WCCA titles. He has a 122-18 career record.
Avella, Sr., 220
2013-14 record: 43-0
Temple won the PIAA Class AA title with a 3-1 victory over West Branch's Reynold Maines. He also won WPIAL, Section 1, regional, Tri-County and Burgettstown titles and has a 146-17 career record.
Latrobe, Sr., 182
2013-14 record: 42-0
The Virginia Tech recruit won a PIAA title with a 3-1 victory against Mt. Lebanon's Kellan Stout. He also won WPIAL, Section 1, Powerade, WCCA and KOM titles. He holds a school record for wins (166-18).
— Compiled by Paul Schofield