Nothing boring about United's undefeated wrestler
ARMAGH--United High School has yielded many outstanding wrestlers, from Larry Strong, a state champion in 1967, to Eli Garshnick, four time state qualifier now on the Pitt-Johnstown wrestling team.
Well, chalk up one more wrestling standout for United--senior Chuck Boring has moved into the ranks with Garshnick and Lee Manning, becoming just the third United wrestler to tally 100 career wins.
In Pennsylvania high school wrestling, 100 wins is a line that divides the very good wrestler to the real studs, and Boring cemented his place in United High School history in the Feb. 1 match against North Star.
As is the custom, the match was halted for an announcement of Boring's accomplishments and the presentation of a plaque.
"The crowd stood up and cheered," Boring said. "It was nice. It was fun."
"I think guys at this level have their own unique style that they're able to use, they're own groove that they fit into," said United Head Coach Tom Whitcomb. "It makes them hard to wrestle. Eli and Lee were the same way."
Garshnick holds the school record at 121 wins, with Manning close behind with 113. Boring, now at 102 wins, has a shot at passing Manning with an outstanding post-season.
When the wrestling season started, Boring had 78 wins, and knew that the 100th victory was within reach.
"I was nervous" before the Feb. 1 match, he acknowledged. "But then I ended up getting (his 100th win) on a forfeit. So that was kind of disappointing at first. But then I thought about it, and not many people have had the chance to get 100 wins, so I'm not going to picky about it."
Besides securing himself a place in United's wrestling history this season, Boring has accomplished another amazing feat this year--at 24-0 (as of Tuesday), he is undefeated this season.
"I think I'm more nervous before a match now," he admitted. "You get that feeling, maybe this will be the one you lose."
Whitcomb was not 100 percent sure, "But I would venture to say that he has the undefeated record" for the school. "It would be real close, anyway."
United will also end the season with a winning record--as of Tuesday, the team was 14-7, with two regular season matches before sectionals, districts and regionals competitions begin.
For Whitcomb, the season's success was a welcome surprise.
"We started out the year with a large part of our veterans not coming out," Whitcomb said. "And these guys picked it up. It's just been fantastic. Our goal was a winning season. This is our 15th consecutive winning season."
But the toughest part of the season still lies ahead.
Boring is looking forward to the competition, yet, "I'm sure there's going to be some really good kids there," at the district and regional meets, he noted.
Last year at regionals, Boring lost his last three matches, all in the last four seconds.
"So I almost made it to states--three times," he said.
Boring has wrestled at the regional level three times.
"This year will hopefully be four," he said, "but you never know."
Last year, he won the District 6 championship in the 140-pound weight class.
"My last two matches were come-from-behind in the last few minutes, which is exciting, but scary at the same time," Boring said.
In his years of sports, he has also been included on several all-star teams, including the most recent Dispatch all-star football team.
Boring first took to the mat 13 years ago as a kindergartner, in the United School District elementary wrestling program.
"I've watched Chuck since he was in the elementary program," Whitcomb said. "I've watched him improve. And we brought him up in the ninth grade because he was pretty talented." (Most varsity wrestlers begin as sophomores.)
Boring's father, Mark, a former wrestler himself, was one of the coaches for the elementary program, and urged his young son to participate.
"I always liked it," Boring said of wrestling. "It was kind of fun. And I did get pretty good when I was little, so that helped me stay with it."
Mark Boring continually encouraged his son to work hard at the sport, and his persistence, paired with Chuck Boring's natural talent, soon paid off.
"My father has really pushed me my whole life," Boring remarked. "And it's a good thing. I used to not think so, but it's good."
Boring credits much of his success to the many rug burns he's endured wrestling on the living room floor with his father.
Boring noted his other big motivator is Whitcomb, who has been with the United program 20 years, eight of them as head coach.
Whitcomb "brings a lot of energy and he makes you believe in yourself," Boring said of his coach.
These two men have given Boring many hours of coaching and words of wisdom, but these two sage pieces of advice have stuck with Boring through his years of wrestling: "Believe in yourself, and don't think, just let it go."
Boring's athleticism is spread over several sports throughout the school year.
Wrestling in the winter season helps Boring keep in shape for another athletic love--baseball.
He plays for United as well as in the Johnstown area Colt League in the summer.
He calls the baseball season his off-season. "That's my relaxing sport," he stated.
Notable performances on the diamond for Boring include the 15 strikeout game he pitched last year.
In the fall, he stays fit on the football field, playing quarterback and cornerback for the school's varsity team, although he didn't even begin playing until his sophomore year.
"I was kind of just there to lead the team," he said of this past season. "I didn't do anything special," though he was chosen for the Dispatch All-Star team for defensive back in 2004.
Boring has yet to choose the college he will attend after graduation, but he knows that the course of study he will take will be health and physical education. "And I'm looking more towards playing baseball in college," he added. "But I'm leaving wrestling open."
Right now, though, Boring 100 percent focused on wrestling, and moving up the ranks through the district and regional meets to reach his ultimate goal: to become one of the top four wrestlers in the state, to be decided at the state tournament at the end of the season.
"If I keep working hard and don't let up and not take any match for granted, I think I can do it," he noted.
"But I'm kind of nervous because I don't know what it's like. But I have to get there first."
Besides becoming a five score athlete on the mat, Boring said his other highlight of the season so far was winning a match against Elderton's Todd Cessna, who placed third in the state last year, and is ranked first this season.
"That gives me hope for getting into the top four of the state," Boring remarked.
To help him keep himself fit for fighting, Boring uses the combination of physical conditioning and technical practice.
His training regime is basically just his after-school practices, though he does run on weekends.
Practices begin with drills before the athletes pair up with their sparring partners. Boring teams up with fellow senior, Ty Boyer. They also run at least a mile with sprints for 20 minutes, except for the days before a match, when they are able to rest and prepare for competition.
By bringing down more than 100 opponents on the mat, Boring has proven that he has the skills and the drive to take him to the top. If he sticks to the formula that has brought him this far, he knows he has a chance.
"I have a very unique style," he said. "I'm not really fast or really strong. I just try to stay in good position and be smart. And I've always had good coaches."
"I've wrestled for so long that no situation is really new to me."
"His biggest strength right now is is confidence and mat experience," said Whitcomb. "When he gets in a tight situation, he doesn't panic."
Boring believes it's his stature that allows him to get in good position to win his matches.
"I'm really very tall for my weight class, so I usually have some leverage and length," he said. "I don't necessarily have to be close to something to be able to still make the move."
"I ride legs a lot," he noted. "Since I'm long, I'm able to wrap up a guy really well so he doesn't have any space to get away."
As the championship season approaches, Boring is trying to focus on those positive aspects of his style, while staying aware of what he needs to improve on.
"I'm definitely not the strongest kid in the world," he acknowledged. "And I'm sometimes not as aggressive as I should be. I'm too nice."
Whitcomb remarked at how easy-going of an athlete Boring is, which made it easier on him as a coach.
"It's tough to get anybody to change something that works for them, and Chuck has been able to do that throughout the year," he noted. "But that's the way with all the kids this year."
Whitcomb believes Boring definitely has what it takes to reach his goal of becoming one of the top four wrestlers statewide.
"I hope all the best for him, and I hope he keeps his head on track like it is now," Whitcomb said.
"We'll see what happens."
This being his senior year, Boring had a few wise words of advice for young wrestlers looking to make it far in high school wrestling.
"Being motivated enough to practice hard every day" is tough, he said. "It's a very grueling sport that you have to work hard at every day."
"Work hard," Boring advised.