Tom Elling’s Wrestling Mat-ters: The Mental Side

At this time of the year, most wrestlers are in peak physical condition. They have been tested through rugged schedules, and their technique is as good as it will be for post-season. But now, during the PIAA run, the difference between their standing on the podium and advancing to the next tournament or ending their season is mental toughness. Everyone wants to win, but not everyone has developed the mental capacity to win. This is the time of year that the wrestling coach puts on his sports psychologist hat and attempts to convince his wrestlers that they can do it.

Long ago, I was given a piece of advice.ÏYou may be wrestling a guy who has better credentials, awards, etc. He may be favored, but tell yourself he may beat you, but he will have to wrestle his best match ever to do it.” That is just some advice I passed onto my wrestlers when I coached.

This Saturday, the Class AAA District Tournament gets underway at the Altoona Field House. Checking out the local teams: Central Mountain has a total of ten seeded in the top four; BEA has seven; Bellefonte has seven. Looking at the top seeds, BEA leads the way with three; Central Mountain with two. Bellefonte has no one in the No. 1 position.

Anyone who has followed the sport knows that seeding spots are nice, but can’t measure the will of a team or an individual to actually win the top-ranked honor. On paper, it appears BEA and Mifflin County should battle for the top spot. However, the Wildcats and a surprising Philipsburg-Osceola squad should also be batting the two favorites.

Computer guru Barry Kline and I are currently involved in designing a program to track all of our District 6 wrestling teams (individually and team-wise). It will be similar in concept as to what we are doing for District 6 basketball. Visit https://d6basketball.blkline.com/d6bb/entry/Entry.action to get an idea of what the product will be.

Jason Nolf, the Nittany Lion 157-pounder, was seen at Rec Hall running without even a slight trace of a limp. With the Big Ten tourney just a couple of weeks away, Nolf should be able to go. How close he’ll be to 100% remains to be seen. Ohio State and Michigan will be pressing Penn State for the title, and the results will be huge in the NCAA bracketing two weeks later. Iowa would be my darkhorse.

The weight class that intrigues me most is 125 where Spencer Lee, Nathan Tomasello and Nick Suriano will be knocking heads. Probability is that Lee and Tomasello will meet in the semis — a rematch of Lee’s stunning earlier win. I like Lee to win the weight class and be named OW.

Our next Central Pennsylvania wrestling breakfast will be May 9th at the Flemington First Church of Christ (same as the past few times). More details to follow, but if you are a dedicated wrestling fan, you won’t want to miss it. It will be like seeing your PA Wrestling News come to life. Mark your calendar.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Jay Livziey. Most of you won’t know that name, but Jay has a storied past in high school sports. The Penn State football alum was the head football coach at Danville when the intense rivalry between Don Malinak’s teams of the early 1960s unfolded. But Jay’s ties with wrestling were even more profound. Before the days of faxes and email, Jay, an accomplished pilot, would fly from Regional to Regional picking up photos and results so that they could be compiled at PIAA HQs on Sunday and released by the AP by the next day.

Jay was the principal at Roosevelt Junior High in Williamsport. I had the pleasure of working with Jay in officiating District 4 tournaments.


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