Gateway wrestlers making up for lost time

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Sunday, January 17, 2021 | 9:01 AM


Gateway wrestlers and their coaches were looking forward to the start of official practices Nov. 20 when the school district closed its buildings and moved to online learning for a couple of weeks to handle covid concerns and issues.

As a result, all athletic activities were shut down.

The team was permitted to starting working out in the room the week of Dec. 7. But after a few practices, Gov. Tom Wolf’s shutdown orders went into effect and again slowed Gateway’s progress.

“It was really hard to get anything going wrestling-wise, especially with getting into wrestling shape and the learning process for the younger kids,” Gateway coach Ryan Sula said.

“Some teams were able to practice through those first three or four weeks where we were only able to practice for one.”

However, Sula said his five wrestlers, a mix of experience levels, have shown positive attitudes through the ups and downs of the past couple of months and are ready to test their mettle

“It was rough, but hopefully now we are able to make up for lost time,” he said.

“They are in high spirits in the room every day and are putting in the work.”

Sula said the team lost a couple of wrestlers over covid concerns.

“I don’t blame anybody for doing that,” Sula said. “As the state said at the beginning of the school year, wrestling is one of the high-risk sports. But we are taking all the right measures to keep the kids as safe as possible. Hopefully, we can get the season completed.”

Of Gateway’s five wrestlers, three return with varsity experience — senior David Clark (172 pounds), junior Gavin Reed (215) and sophomore Floyd McKenna (152).

“We want to get what we can get this season,” said Clark, who is in his third varsity season with the Gators.

“Whenever we are able to be at practice, we are going to work as hard as we can.”

Clark, the team’s lone senior, compiled a 9-15 record last year at 170.

He will be at 172 this season under the PIAA’s modified weight-class lineup.

The changes to the lineup include the combining of 182 and 195 into the single 189-pound class.

“David is really looking forward to taking that next step,” Sula said.

“He came into this season with a good foundation.”

McKenna, 12-19 in his first varsity season, suffered a wrist injury in the 152 fifth-place bout at last year’s Section 1-AAA tournament.

“Floyd is back healthy and ready to go,” Sula said.

McKenna is expected to move up to 160.

Reed also is back after missing half of last season with a broken ankle. He was 3-4 at 195 before his season was cut short. This year, he will compete at 215.

“He was working out even when he was in a boot,” Sula said.

Sophomore Arontay Heningcamp (113) makes the move up to varsity after wrestling for the junior high last year.

Sula said newcomer Eric Brophy, a junior at 138, has shown promise in the first series of practices. Brophy has athletic experience at Gateway in lacrosse and cross country.

“There’s some talent there,” Sula said. “It was just a little hard for him to build upon things when we were stopping and starting and stopping like we did.”

Gateway returns to Section 1 and is in subsection 1B with Franklin Regional, Penn Hills, Penn-Trafford, Plum and Woodland Hills.

The Gators were slated to begin competition at a quad meet Wednesday at Franklin Regional against the host Panthers and Penn Hills. The matches were to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.

Gateway is scheduled to host North Catholic on Friday and then wrestle Woodland Hills and Plum next Wednesday (Jan. 27) at the Furrie Sports Complex.

The Gators have 11 matches scheduled in all with McKeesport, West Mifflin, Shaler, North Hills and Elizabeth Forward also on the docket in advance of the start of the WPIAL individual postseason Feb. 16.

“The guys have missed a lot so far, so we just want them to have as many chances to wrestle as possible,” Sula said. “Things change quickly. It’s such a fluid situation. You have to check your (email) inbox often.”

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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