Burrell wrestling staff honored as top assistant coaches in state

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Monday, July 25, 2022 | 10:22 AM


The Burrell wrestling team continued its high level of success this past season with a 19th consecutive section championship, another appearance in the WPIAL Class 2A title match, a trip to the PIAA tournament and several individual standout performances at the section, WPIAL, regional and state levels.

Bucs head coach Josh Shields said the 2022 season was a memorable one with stellar moment after stellar moment from his wrestlers.

He credited his assistant coaches — Steve Ansani, Isaac Greeley, Chris Como, Ethan Wissler and Jake Gromacki — for their efforts in making sure the lineup was ready to go in each dual match, invitational and championship tournament.

And the National Wrestling Coaches Association agreed.

The organization recently announced that those five Burrell coaches were selected the Pennsylvania boys assistant staff of the year.

“This is great for our coaching staff to be honored in this way,” Shields said. “It is well deserved.”

The Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association, Shields said, selected the Burrell staff and sent that decision along to the national organization who, in turn, recognized the quintet for their efforts.

“They evaluate results, how the wrestlers carry themselves in certain situations and the overall performance of the program to determine who is selected,” Shields said.

This is the first time a group of Burrell wrestling assistant coaches have received this honor from the NWCA.

“When putting a coaching staff together, I think it is important to have guys with like mindsets for the goals of the program with maybe slightly different techniques,” Shields said.

“All of my assistants have that, and they just love the sport of wrestling and love coaching the kids. They have that passion for seeing the kids succeed, and they know the positive benefits the sport can have on the younger generations. That passion trickles down to the team.

“I’ve said it for years that I have the best coaching staff in the state, and it was good for them to finally be recognized for that at the national level.”

Shields, Burrell’s head coach since 2013, graduated from Burrell in 2006, won 147 matches in his high school career and made the PIAA finals as a senior.

Shields wrestled under Como, then the head coach, and also Greeley, then a young assistant with the Bucs.

Ansani, a Valley grad and former Vikings head coach, has been on the staff at Burrell for seven years.

Gromacki, a graduate of Erie Cathedral Prep and a multi-time PIAA placewinner who wrestled collegiately at Clarion and Pitt, came on as a Burrell assistant before the 2020-21 season.

Gromacki coaches the lighter-weight wrestlers, while Wissler, a Penn State graduate who wrestled for the Nittany Lions after serving as a sergeant in the U.S. Marines, joined the Bucs staff this past season. He works with the team’s upper-weight wrestlers.

Shields said all five assistants will be back for the 2022-23 season.

“The additions of Jake and Ethan the past couple of years really rounded out our coaching staff perfectly,” Shields said.

“You have Chris, Isaac and Steve — guys who have been coaching for 20-plus years — and then Jake and Ethan are those younger guys who bring their own unique perspective and can also really mix it up on the mat.

“It is such a great blend of talent and experience, and I am very lucky to be able to work with them.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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