Hampton wrestler overcomes size disadvantage to have big senior season
Saturday, February 20, 2021 | 9:01 AM
Nearly every time Conrad Harold stepped on the wrestling mat this season, he was facing someone bigger than him.
But few were better than him.
The Hampton senior finished with a 24-7 record — by far the best mark of his high school career — despite being outweighed by nearly 30 pounds in many of his matches.
Harold’s season came to an end with a 3-2 loss to Kiski Area junior Carter Dilts in an all-or-nothing match at WPIAL Class AAA Section 1A sub-sectional tournament Feb. 17.
“All I can say is the fact that there was no tomorrow kind of pushed me to be the best I could this season,” Harold said. “No regrets. I think I had my best season easily, and I wrestled my (butt) off every match.”
With VMI-bound Justin Hart holding down the 189-pound weight class for the Talbots, Harold competed at 215 while tipping the scales at around 185 pounds for most of the season.
In one of his losses, a 3-1 decision to Moon’s Andrew Sampson on Feb. 12, Harold weighed in at 176. Sampson weighed 214.9.
“I have to adapt a little bit because of the size difference,” he said in the days leading up to the sub-sectionals. “It’s quickness and technique. I just do what I know how to do.”
Harold, an honorable mention all-Greater Allegheny Conference inside linebacker, used speed, agility and know-how to compete against much bigger wrestlers.
“His most improved position this year is on bottom, which is hard because when you are giving up 30-40 pounds in a match and you got a guy on top of you, you have to be quick and you have to score quick,” Hampton coach Chris Hart said. “Otherwise, they are going to dominate you with strength and weight. I think that’s really where he’s improved the most.”
Coming off a pair of injury-shortened seasons, Harold won 13 of his first 14 matches — including 5-0 at both the Seneca Valley Duals and the Hampton Dawg Duals — and placed eighth at the prestigious Powerade Tournament last month.
He reached the WPIAL tournament as a freshman, but a broken ankle ended his sophomore season with an 8-12 record and a viral skin infection cut short a promising junior year at 19-10.
This season, a new level of confidence proved to be the difference for a longtime wrestler who always possessed the physical skills to succeed on the mat.
“I knew he always had it in him,” Coach Hart said. “Even in elementary, I knew. He just needs to believe in himself. He has the technique. He has the skill set. … I think this year he finally believes in himself.”
With confidence has come aggressiveness. Harold this season posted pins in 12, 19, 24, 33 and 38 seconds. His biggest victory came in a win-or-go-home match against Canon-McMillan senior Tyler Rohaley in the consolation bracket at Powerade. Outweighed by about 20 pounds, Harold earned a 4-2 decision to assure himself of a spot on the medal stand.
“That was probably my biggest problem my whole wrestling career, the confidence,” he said. “This year it’s coming out.”
Next up for Harold is the entrance exam for the Air National Guard, in hopes of making the federal military reserve force, before heading to college.
“It’s been a fantastic year for him,” Coach Hart said. “It’s been a year that I think is life-changing for him with the success that he’s had.”
Dietz hits 100, Hart returns
Hampton’s Dawson Dietz joined the 100-win club with his opening-round pin at the WPIAL Class AAA Section 1A sub-sectional tournament Feb. 17.
The senior heavyweight, who disposed of Highlands senior Jeremiah Nelson in 67 seconds for the milestone victory, went 5-0 at sub-sectionals to improve to 104-28 for his career.
Dietz (26-3) advanced to the Section 1 tournament Feb. 20, where a top-two finish would move him to the WPIAL championship/PIAA Southwest Regionals on Feb. 27 at Canon-McMillan.
“Dawson looks great,” coach Chris Hart said. “He’s peaking at the right time.”
Another member of the century club, Hampton senior 189-pounder Justin Hart (18-4, 126-26 career), has returned to the mat for the first time in three weeks after being sidelined with injuries. The VMI recruit went 4-1 at the sub-sectionals to advance to sectionals.
“Justin is just hungry,” Coach Hart said of his nephew. “He’s feeling great and ready to go.”
Freshman Caleb Rihn (13-12 at 126) and junior Jayden Resch (17-11 at 172) also survived the sub-sectionals for the Talbots.
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