Wurster Ends High School Wrestling Career At States (03/14/2018)

Tom Wurster works against Aiden Gardner of Redbank Valley earlier in the season.

(By CSZ Sports Writer Kenn Staub) Senior Tom Wurster became the nineteenth Bobcat in Clarion Area history to compete in the state tournament when he wrestled at the PIAA Championship held last weekend (March 8-10).

“Heading to states was one of my dreams when I started wrestling in ninth grade,” noted Wurster.

“We knew it would be tough for Tom to get to states but it was really nice to see him accomplish that,” added Bobcat head coach Brian Luton.

Wurster’s postseason run began with a second place finish at the District 9 tournament during the last weekend of February. His only loss during that tournament was to Brookville’s Tyler Cook, who had defeated the Bobcat grappler in each of their past five meetings, including at the end of the 2016-2017 season to claim that year’s district title. At the Northwest Regional tournament held the week following Districts, Wurster finally snapped his losing streak against Cook on his way to placing fourth and qualifying for States.

Tom Wurster works on the top against Brookville’s Tyler Cook earlier in the season. (photo by Susan Staub)

Both Wurster and Luton agreed that the victory over Cook at Regionals was a highlight of the postseason.

“The most memorable moment was during Regionals and I had to face Tyler Cook in the blood round in order to wrestle for third and fourth,” commented Wurster.

Luton averred, saying “The most memorable moment for us was probably watching Tom avenge a string of losses against Tyler Cook to punch his ticket to Hershey [location of the state championships]. Tyler had Tom’s number throughout his career. Tom could have packed up shop but he went into the Regionals match believing in himself and had the confidence and skill to pull out a win against an extremely tough opponent. Tom’s excitement and reaction to that win was one of those feel good moments as a coach.”

Wurster, the 15th ranked 220-pounder in Pennsylvania, opened his state tournament in impressive fashion, taking a 10-1 major decision over junior Jonah Niesenbaum (18-14) of Salisbury Township.

Things got exponentially tougher for Wurster in the second round, where he found himself up against the reigning Northeast Region champion and 5th ranked Hunter Poust (41-3). The Muncy senior downed Wurster 11-5, relegating him to the consolation side of the bracket.

Wurster’s season and high school career would come to an end in his first consolation bout when he lost a heartbreaker to sophomore Kolby Flank (36-8) of Wilson Area.

The bout with Flank was tightly contested from the get-go, as neither wrestler scored in the first period. Wurster opened the second in the down position, getting the contest’s first points with an escape. Flank followed with a takedown, but Wurster was able to escape before the period ended, knotting the bout at 2-2. Wurster, starting on top, rode Flank out during the third, sending the scrap to overtime. The first period of sudden victory was scoreless and things looked dire for Wurster when Flank went ahead 5-2 during the first tie breaker. The Clarion wrestler was not finished; however, scoring three points in the second tie breaker to stalemate the bout at five apiece, pushing the scuffle into what is known as the ultimate tie breaker. Wurster elected to start the final stanza on bottom, knowing an escape would win the bout but that if Flank rode him out the Wilson Area grappler would prevail. Despite his best efforts, Wurster could not manage an escape and fell 6-5.

Luton, discussing the bout, said, “There were several moments where you thought Tom might not be able to even up the score but he always fought back and kept the match going. He scored some late points in regulation then was able to get an escape and a last second takedown before losing in the ultimate tie breaker.”

Tom Wurster locks up during the Ridgway match earlier in the season.

“The guys in the state tournament are tough, so you expect these kinds of battles. It’s hard to watch your wrestler end his career in that fashion. You hate to see either kid lose a match like that because they both worked so hard, but that’s wrestling,” said Luton.

Assessing Wurster’s performance at the state tournament Luton said, “This weekend he wrestled as well as he has all season. Peaking at the right time is important and I feel like he did a nice job with that. He lost a few tough matches but left it all on the mat. That’s all you can ask of your wrestlers.”

Following States Wurster noted, “It means a lot having my career end at the state tournament. It goes to show Coach Luton was right, saying that I can compete at the state level.”

Luton echoed Wurster’s sentiments, saying, “States is always the place you want to see one of your wrestlers end their high school career. A lot of guys never get to be part of the state tournament so I’m proud to see one of our wrestlers get to be part of it and have that experience before it’s all over.”

Wurster finished the 2017-2018season with a 29-9 record and went 67-29 over the course of his career. He credited Luton, as well as assistant coaches Matt Waterson and Cameron Slike, for giving him the tools needed to be successful during his varsity career.