Kiski Area wrestling coach Tursky pins down 500th career victory
Chuck Tursky checked off the last goal of his high school wrestling coaching career Wednesday night.
Already the WPIAL's career wrestling wins leader, Tursky picked up his 500th career victory as Kiski Area (9-2, 3-1) downed Penn Hills, 64-12, in Section 1-AAA competition Wednesday.
“There's not many times when you can hit every goal you set for yourself,” Tursky said. “For me, hitting 500 is the last goal, other than doing the best I can as a coach every day. Doing the best I can as a coach is No. 1.”
In 37 seasons at Burrell and Kiski Area, Tursky is 500-134-2. He led Kiski Area to WPIAL Class AAA team championships in 1997 and 2003 and became the WPIAL's all-time wins leader in January 2012, passing longtime Connellsville coach Tom Dolde Sr.
Tursky also was inducted into several halls of fame, including the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“To get 500 wins in this day and age in anything — I don't care if it's checkers — it's remarkable,” said Chris Heater, Tursky's longtime assistant at Kiski Area. “You beat somebody 500 times at something, you're doing a great job.”
“There's been some great wrestling coaches in the state of Pennsylvania, and he's right there in the top group of them,” Heater said.
Some of Tursky's former teammates from Riverview came to watch Wednesday's match.
Tursky missed several weeks last season after going major internal surgery. Heater coached the team in his absence, and Tursky returned in time to lead the Cavaliers back to the WPIAL playoffs.
He thanked several people affiliated with the Kiski Area wrestling program, including Steve and Karen Joseph, Craig Nagy, Larry Enciso and Don Toy. But he saved his biggest appreciation for Heater, his assistant for the past 24 seasons. He said Heater was there for 381 of the 500 victories, including both WPIAL titles.
“If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have ever been able to accumulate these wins,” Tursky said. “He's such a good coach that he brings out the best in me as well as the athletes.”
Heater said Tursky offered to let him take over as Kiski Area coach more than once, but he declined.
“I have a chance to coach with my best friend,” Heater said. “I don't care what other kind of opportunities are there. I'd rather stay and be an assistant and coach with him at Kiski than leave and go be a head coach somewhere else.”
Wednesday's victory came in dominant fashion for Kiski Area, which bounced back from a loss Saturday to Franklin Regional.
Joey Blumer, Vaughn Curcio, Brad Nagy, Chad Kuhn, Tyler Worthing and Isaac Reid all won by fall as the Cavaliers won 11 of 13 bouts. Matt Siszka and Garrett Fitzsimmons recorded technical falls.
“It was pretty exciting to be able to come out here and try to wrestle my best to help the team win and help him get his 500th win,” Kuhn said. “We knew how exciting it would be for him.”
Heater said Tursky's longevity is remarkable, and he and Kuhn said the coach remains passionate about the sport.
“He has some wins in him yet, that's for sure,” Heater said. “The big goal was to get to 500 and evaluate from there.”