Tribune-Review Westmoreland County wrestler of the year: Norwin’s Kurtis Phipps
Saturday, March 21, 2020 | 7:36 PM
Kurtis Phipps, like everyone in the world, is bored sitting at home watching TV.
But that is what has happened with the coronavirus forcing people to take precautions to stay healthy.
Phipps is glad the PIAA didn’t stop its wrestling tournament like the NCAA did for the basketball and wrestling championships.
Phipps’ brother, Drew, and wrestling friends in Division I, II and III were denied their chance at glory.
“I feel for those guys,” Phipps said. “I don’t know how I would have reacted if I didn’t get a chance.”
But Phipps (126 pounds) got to celebrate after he won his first PIAA wrestling title March 7 after finishing second in 2018 and ’19.
Not only did he win his first title, he became the school’s first state wrestling champion.
Now, the Bucknell recruit is eager for the coronavirus to pass so life can return to normal.
What’s it like to be Norwin’s first state champion?
It’s exciting to be able to prove that it’s able to happen at Norwin and be able to get it done. It’s really cool.
What were you feeling when the horn went off and you realized your goal of being a state champion?
It was one of those crazy things where you don’t even know what to think. I didn’t do anything extra from what I usually do. It hit me five minutes later back in the hall before I got out there to receive my medal. Then we celebrated, the whole team, and it was really cool. It was crazy at the moment.
Did Drew call you, or was he busy wrestling?
He was at the EIWA championships earlier in the day, where he was in the finals an hour earlier. He was busy that day.
You were disappointed you didn’t win previously. What was different this year?
This year, I put everything into it. I trained different from every other year. I ate healthier, and I got my body prepared for anything. So finally getting it done was such a big deal for me.
Did the injury and time off help you prepare this season?
In some ways it helped. Mentally, it gave me a long time to get back and slowly work myself back in. Instead of continuing to train and beat down my body, I think it helped it that way. But it also would have been nice to train all summer, so I didn’t force myself to get back in shape and (deal with) the rustiness of being off.
When did you feel you were back?
It took a long time before I really felt I was wrestling back to where I was at a year ago. Probably the beginning of the season, the Powerade Tournament, is where I felt I was back.
Did the loss to Franklin Regional’s Finn Solomon motivate you?
Yes it did. I feel I put my best two weeks together. It was insane. But it really helped, and I got my head back to where it needed to be.
Were you looking forward to the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic, which was postponed?
I was looking to wrestle someone different. I expected it would be canceled after everything happened. It was disappointing.
What are your feelings about what’s going on in the world?
I don’t know what to think. It’s getting crazier every day. I’m trying to keep myself out of it and keep doing things I like to do in my daily life. I try to get runs in and play PlayStation with my friends. Keep myself going day-to-day.
Why did you pick Bucknell?
The connections. It’s hard to say that my brother (going there didn’t affect) my decision. Of course it did. Mainly, when I went for my visit, it gave me a completely different view from other schools. The guys are so different. They are way more laid back. Some schools I visited are crazier, and I had a real good time, plus the program I got into (civil engineering and management), I get to redshirt and come out with two majors. I’m going to get bigger, too.
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