Penn-Trafford boys athlete of the year: Cameron Coy
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Cameron Coy wrote the perfect ending to his freshman wrestling season.
After losing early-season battles with defending state champions Sam Krivus (Hempfield) and Tyler Smith (Franklin Regional), Coy entered the WPIAL Class AAA individual wrestling tournament as the No. 2 seed at 132 pounds. He won four straight matches to claim the WPIAL championship, toppling Smith, 5-2, in the championship bout.
A week later, Coy duplicated his feat at the PIAA individual championships, winning four straight matches to take home the state title. He surrendered just one point against him in the entire tournament and defeated Nazareth's Chase Zemenak, 2-1, in the title match.
Coy, who finished the season with a 39-5 record, became the first Penn-Trafford wrestler since Shane Young, a 2009 graduate, to win WPIAL and state championships. For his performance this season, he was named the Penn-Trafford Star's boys athlete of the year for 2013-14.
Below is an interview conducted with Coy on Sunday.
Q: First of all, congratulations on such a successful season. How does it feel looking back on it now?
A: I still have a lot of work to do. I'm hoping to get three more state titles and three more WPIAL titles. There's a lot of kids out there that are very, very good, and I've got to keep working.
Q: When you set goals as a wrestler, how far ahead do you look?
A: I have an ultimate goal, and that's to be a four-time state champion. But I really only look at the year coming up, my sophomore year. You can't look ahead of yourself. You always have to keep your little goals to reach your ultimate one.
Q: What were your goals heading into your freshman year? Did you expect to accomplish what you did?
A: Truly, I didn't. Everybody wants to be a state champion and WPIAL champion. I wanted to be in the mix to be able to place high at states — top five, maybe. I wanted to just be able to go out to states, knowing how tough the WPIAL is. I definitely didn't expect coming into my freshman year that I would be where I'm at.
Q: What was it like for you, as a freshman, going up against upperclassmen? Is there an extra difficulty to that?
A: The biggest difference is strength. When I was in eighth grade or seventh grade, everybody was getting to the point where they were strong. But it seems like those older kids, the seniors, they all have that adult strength, a man strength, that they have behind their power. It took a little while to get used to, and it took some time to catch up to them. It was just a different air of wrestling. I wasn't used to it coming into wrestling these older kids. Some of them were 18 and 19 years old.
Q: Was there a point where you felt it starting to click for you?
A: I would say probably the tournament where it clicked for me was King of the Mountain. It was the first time I wrestled Sam Krivus (of Hempfield, a defending state champion) and a three-time New York state champ, Will Koll. I knew they were two of the best kids in the country, and I was right there with them. It clicked for me that I'm right there and ready to go.
Q: How much did those early matchups really help you later in the year?
A: It let me know where I was and how good I could compete with these kids. I knew that Krivus was a state champion, and all the matches were really close. It showed me I was right there in the mix to even win the state title.
Q: When you won those WPIAL and state titles, how does it feel to stand on top of the podium? What are the emotions like when your goals are accomplished?
A: It was very exciting. It was a thrill because you train all around the year for that. You're doing workout after workout, and it just felt great to know you got the job done and you peaked at the right time.
Q: Are there any matches that were especially memorable for you?
A: Definitely the Tyler Smith match in the WPIAL finals. Going into that match, my whole season, that was probably the best kid I beat leading up to states. I was so excited because I knew how good he was. I knew he was a defending state champ. It just felt great to know that I was right there. He was ranked second in the country at the time.
Q: Was there a little bit of weight off your shoulders heading into states after winning that one?
A: I knew that people were expecting a lot out of me because I beat Tyler Smith, but I just wanted to have fun. I was very excited to be able to wrestle there. I knew I was going to do well, and I just wanted to have fun with it.
Q: Every match you had at states was tightly contested. What is it like being in one of those matches, where one misstep can change the result?
A: There's a lot of matches at states where it's a coin flip to see who could even win it. You've just got to be loose. A lot of kids will go out there and be really tight. They don't want to make a mistake. They wrestle not to lose. You've just got to wrestle to dominate. You've just got to have a good feel and hit the right moves at the right times and just be loose throughout the whole match.
Q: Did you feel loose before your matches?
A: Definitely. I felt I had a great mentality coming into it, and I wasn't afraid to make a mistake.
Q: When did you first start wrestling?
A: I started when I was 6.
Q: How quickly did you develop into a strong wrestler?
A: When I started out, I was a decent wrestler. I wasn't good, but I wasn't terrible. I was in the middle. But as time went on, I started to love the sport. I started going to clubs and started wrestling with the best kids around in the area. Suddenly, when I got into seventh grade, I took it very seriously in my middle school career. I won my first state title when I was in seventh grade.
Q: A lot of wrestlers have their own style. What would you say your style is, and did it take you time to develop it?
A: When I was in middle school, I was very offensive. I considered myself a Spencer Lee (of Franklin Regional) or Jason Nolf (of Kittanning), where I would just try to score as many points as I can. Once I stepped into the state tournament, it got really hard to just go crazy and score as many points as possible because everyone was so good and they were trying to do the same thing as you. All I knew was I had to stay in good positioning and be a smart wrestler.
Q: Do you adjust your strategy from match to match?
A: I try not to. I try to just wrestle my style and keep everything the same, but sometimes there's two different styles. Sometimes styles don't match up well with each other. Sometimes you have to change some little things.
Q: Do you have anything that you want to accomplish this summer, and what are your plans for your sophomore year?
A: This year, I want to be a Fargo national champ in freestyle. (Note: The ASICS/Vaughan Cadet & Junior Nationals take place in July in Fargo, N.D.)
For my sophomore year, I want to be a state champion again. Same goal.
Q: How was it competing at the ASICS FILA Cadet & University Nationals in Akron, Ohio, last month? Does that prepare you at all for Fargo?
A: Akron was definitely a different ballgame. (There were) a lot of great kids, and it takes a lot of adjustment to get used to some styles. I wrestle a lot more folk style, and there's kids down there that don't even wrestle folk style much. They're all freestyle; they're already looking for the Olympics. It's a lot different.
Q: You were Penn-Trafford's first WPIAL and state champion in several years. What does it mean to you to bring that back to the school?
A: It felt great. The P-T wrestling program used to be so amazing, (with) so many kids. It kind of — I wouldn't say went down, but kids weren't as interested anymore in the sport. I feel good that I'm trying to bring it back around, that I brought more attention to Penn-Trafford within the sport. I'm hoping a lot more kids will sign up and participate in it.
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
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