A-K Valley wrestling notebook: Kiski Area’s Reid reflects after claiming title
Tuesday, March 6, 2018 | 8:42 PM
Isaac Reid pointed both index fingers to the ceiling in Canon-McMillan's gym, then animatedly switched to a raise-the-roof motion after winning his first title in his final appearance at the WPIAL Class AAA championships.
A season that began with a major health scare — a pulmonary embolism in his lung that kept him out of Kiski Area's lineup until January — reached a crescendo for Reid on Saturday, with a 3-1 victory over West Mifflin's Gerald Brown in the 285-pound final.
Given what he went through, Reid was in a celebratory mood, but he also kept the win in perspective.
“Anything from this point was just icing on the cake,” Reid said. “If I would have got second, I still would have been grateful. I'm just thankful to be alive.”
Reid's first trip to WPIALs as a freshman ended when then-coach Chuck Tursky pulled Reid off the mat for a forfeit after he used inappropriate language.
The heavyweight matured over the following three years, and his battle with the pulmonary embolism led him to re-examine his faith. He spent much of his downtime at last weekend's WPIAL tournament reading from a Bible in which he marked favorite passages. He spoke after beating Brown of his thankfulness to God.
“I've learned so much more in this past year than any other year,” Reid said. “One of my favorite Bible quotes is, ‘Physical training is of some value, but training for godliness of all value, providing benefits in this life and life to come.' I really apply that to my life. I love to train and work out, but there's so much more.”
Securing a PIAA championship berth provided plenty of motivation for Jack Blumer in his 152-pound semifinal match against Hempfield's Luke Kemerer at the WPIAL Class AAA tournament, but the Kiski Area sophomore wanted a win for another reason: It would give him bragging rights over older brother Joey, who lost to Kemerer in a previous WPIAL tournament.
Jack Blumer got that leg up and then another, winning his first WPIAL title Saturday night by beating Pine-Richland's Cole Spencer in the championship match. Joey's best placement was a runner-up finish last season.
“He admitted that sophomore year, I was better so far,” Jack Blumer said. “Not overall, I'm not better than him yet, but sophomore year I'm better.”
Joey Blumer, now a freshman wrestler at Penn State, attended both days of the WPIAL tournament and gripped his brother in a bear hug after the victory over Spencer.
“I was more excited for that than I was for any of my matches in high school,” Joey said. “That had my heart racing.”
Joey provided some advice for his brother before the semifinal match against Kemerer, which Jack won 4-2. The Blumers wrestled each other over the weekend at home. Joey said he won that battle, so he's not ready to give little brother the edge over him yet.
Of course, Jack could change his older brother's tune as early as this week.
“A state title would seal the deal, I'd say,” Joey said.
Reid and Valley junior David Schuffert found the perfect practice partners in advance of the PIAA championships: each other.
Schuffert and Reid have been working together in Kiski Area's wrestling room the past two weeks, preparing each other for the competition in Hershey.
“He's a good partner for me, a big guy to work with,” Reid said. “He's a friend of mine, as well. Sometimes we like to laugh and joke around, and sometimes we're serious and talk about some of the things that are going on and how we can improve and really use each other's athleticism and size to build each other.”
Although Reid and Schuffert worked out together in the past at the Mat Factory in Lower Burrell, Reid's health issues this season precluded that. Schuffert mainly worked without a partner at Valley but still finished second in WPIAL Class AA and third at the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional.
“It's pretty great to actually have a big guy to wrestle,” Schuffert said. “It feels better than it was. We're working hard and doing the stuff we need to do.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
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