Passing on football, helps Sutton’s wrestling

Talented C-H senior takes time off to heal injured shoulder

  • By Joe Tuscano November 21, 2012
Chartiers-Houston senior Tanner Sutton, left, says his surgically repaired shoulder is in good shape and he is ready for the upcoming high school wrestling season. - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Maybe the most important decision about Tanner Sutton’s wrestling season came this summer.

That’s when his parents decided the talented senior would not play on the Chartiers-Houston football team.

It wasn’t an easy decision and there were more than a few days of discussion and some tense moments around the dinner table.

“It was not a popular decision at our house,” said Bill Sutton, Tanner’s father and the head wrestling coach for the Bucs. “He wanted to play.”

Not only were Tanner’s parents against him playing football, but the doctors who treated his damaged shoulder also advised against it. Tanner Sutton has screws in his shoulder, the result of surgery on a torn right labrum that dogged him for two years. That’s two years of pain and suffering from an injury caused by a collision on the football field in his sophomore season. Doctors were afraid another jarring hit would loosen the screws and put his wrestling season in jeopardy.

“We were worried about the vibrations,” Bill Sutton said. “The doctors said the odds of him getting through the football season without injury was 15 percent.”

Sutton is just one victory away from reaching the 100-win plateau. He enters this season with a 99-23 career record.

Sutton lost his junior season of football to the surgery, his senior season to what his parents felt was a common sense decision.

When you stand 5-8 and weigh 160 pounds, well, a college wrestling career seems more plausible than one in football.

“I really like football,” said Tanner Sutton. “It was hard not to play. I love everyone on the team. Everyone who wrestles plays football because we’re a small school. It was a hard decision not to play.”

What Tanner Sutton said next seemed to validate the decision not to play football: “My shoulder is in good shape.”

That means his wrestling career should be, too. Sutton won section and WPIAL titles last season, then finished third in the Southwest Region to qualify for the state tournament, a first in his wrestling career. He sat out the first month of last season and missed the football season, because the surgery in August took that long to completely heal.

Sutton competed in the Super 32 Wrestling Tournament in North Carolina last month and was one win away from a medal. More important, he wrestled pain-free.

“That was the first time I was on the mat since May,” said Sutton. “I’m still doing rehab work to get stronger.”

Sutton is looking at his college options, something he couldn’t fathom two years ago.

“I visited Edinboro, Lock Haven, Pitt and American,” he said. “Wrestling is my future.”

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.


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