I believe this year’s wrestling fans that follow Tioga Central were treated to one of the most successful seasons in our school’s wrestling history. We have literally been “blessed” with kids who have those special qualities necessary to build a strong wrestling program, and coaches who can effectively teach the skills needed to “make it happen.”
Since 1968, three I. A. C. schools have had winning streaks of five consecutive titles each. Lansing won the very first five. Waverly did it between 2005 and 2009, and Newark Valley from 2013 to 2017. They have won a total of five, 11, and nine titles, respectively.
Tioga has shown remarkable consistency; with five combined win streaks (three of three years and two of four years), with single titles in 2004 and 2018. Altogether, winning 19 league championships. Pretty impressive!
Five other schools have combined to share the remaining seven titles. This is a tribute to exceptional coaching and gifted athletes who are mentally and physically tough, disciplined, dedicated and coachable. Not easy to find, and all the more reason those who have wrestled for Tioga, and those who have coached them, should “hold dear” the privilege provided them to be part of this long and respected wrestling tradition.
This year was particularly special in that six wrestlers were invited to Albany to compete in “States,” and it could have easily been seven participating had Jacob Welch been able to go, and John Worthing not been forced to withdraw because of illness. Both would have been highly seeded and I’m certain we would have won more medals than three.
Our only two seniors had tough breaks in Albany. Max Johnson lost a critical match on a disputed take down attempt at the buzzer. These are exhilarating moves when you get the call, and heartbreaking when you don’t.
Trey Floyd, our other senior, was hurt in his first match, a win (all five of the six who were able to wrestle won their first matches), and he toughed it out right to the end, earning his coach and everyone else’s respect for giving his absolute all, despite severe back spasms.
Both senior athletes competed in wrestling as they did in football. They were very team oriented, gave 100 percent effort 100 percent of the time, and (as far as I know) off the field. I’m not sure you can teach that. It comes from “within,” and I believe you either have it or you don’t. You can’t actually replace leaders like these two, but you have to try.
Character is essential for having really successful, winning programs. With character comes respect, and that in turn promotes an air of willingness to cooperate, participate, and commit all necessary ingredients to build a successful program. Without them, there can only be chaos.
Team leaders set the “tone” and the example on and off the field of competition. Good leaders set good examples. Leadership is a key ingredient in building a group of individuals into a team that works together to achieve a common goal. Max and Trey did that, in spades.
With so many experienced underclassmen returning, Tioga has the potential to be a powerful opponent for almost any team again next year. If someone or several someone’s emerge to take up the “mantel” carried by those who “went before,” that potential has an even better chance to be realized.
I trust that someone will do just that.
Tioga Center, N.Y.