Eager to dive into college wrestling, Penn Hills senior commits to Davis & Elkins

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Sunday, January 10, 2021 | 9:01 AM


Penn Hills’ Hunter Shields has been wrestling for a decade, and he has been given an opportunity to continue his wrestling career at the collegiate level.

Shields, who wrestles at 138 pounds, signed his letter of intent to continue his wrestling career at Davis & Elkins, a NCAA Division II program in the Mountain East Conference, on Dec. 30.

Shields, who received an offer at Davis & Elkins on Dec. 14, was mulling offers from Gannon and Penn State Behrend before deciding to sign with the Senators.

‘The coach is the one who had the best contact with me,” Shields said. “I liked how their campus looked. Their campus is up in the mountains.

“I’ve always wanted to wrestle at the next level. I wanted to continue wrestling since I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve been doing it for 10 years now, and I can’t imagine quitting.”

Last season, Davis & Elkins went 8-8 and finished sixth out of 11 teams at the NCAA Division II Super Regionals in their inaugural season. The Senators sent four wrestlers to the NCAA championships.

Shields, who wants to major in computer science, understands he needs to continue to work on his craft with wrestling at the collegiate level on the horizon.

“It’s a learning experience,” Shields said. “You’re going to come up. You’re going to see the things you’re good at and what doesn’t work.

“About a third of your moves aren’t going to work, so you’re going to have to find ways to either make them work or change them up to find a better move. I want to go against better competition to see not only what my worst moves are but how my best moves are as well so I can improve them.”

Wrestling has been part of Shields’ life since he was 8. When not in the wrestling room with Penn Hills teammates, Shields has been going to different local clubs, including Young Gunz in Murrysville and Mat Factory in Burrell, to get an opportunity to work out with top local competition.

“I was doing it because I liked the sport,” Shields said. “When I was first starting out, it wasn’t about how far I could go with it. It was about me enjoying the sport and getting better at it. In the last few years, I’ve been wanting to continue wrestling. I’m really happy I get a chance to continue it.”

Shields is one of two returning Penn Hills wrestlers who qualified for the WPIAL tournament a season ago. Shields (132) and junior A.J. Palumbo (195) were part of a trio that qualified for the tournament. Mike DeVito (152) has graduated.

It was the largest Penn Hills contingent to qualify since 2014 when the Indians sent TeShan Campbell, Mike Ames and Zach Crankshaw to WPIALs.

Last season, Shields (21-10) defeated New Castle’s Jonah Miller by a 15-2 major decision in his opening match at WPIALs but lost his final two matches.

Shields qualified for the WPIAL tournament after finishing third in the WPIAL Section 1-AAA tournament by defeating Greensburg Salem’s Cody Kaufman by a 1-0 decision.

Earlier in the season, Shields finished fourth at the Eastern Area Invitational and Steve DeAugustino Holiday Classic.

Shields, who was seeded eighth in the WPIAL tournament, will look to make his third appearance in a row at WPIALs this season.

As Shields navigates this shortened wrestling season, he wants to be more aggressive when he takes shots.

“I feel like my weakest part is neutral,” Shields said. “I want to continue to work on committing to my shots. I feel like I can set up shots well, but I feel like I hesitate before in a match.”

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