Zach Swarrow never thought his high school wrestling season would be just five-bouts old at this point.
But a high ankle sprain in the season-opening Chartiers-Houston Tournament has kept his foot in a walking boot and his hopes for what he thought was going to be his best season at Beth-Center on hold.
“It’s been frustrating,” said Swarrow, a senior 113-pounder. “I’ve been dieting and trying to stay in shape.”
Swarrow hurt the ankle in an 8-3 decision over Willie Valentine of Albert Gallatin in the consolation round. Swarrow was forced to default to Blake Caudill of Butler in the third-place bout.
“I was able to finish the match,” said Swarrow, “but I knew after that match, that I couldn’t go anymore.”
The boot and a one-month stay on the sport’s “disabled list” followed.
“I’ll take a high ankle sprain over a knee injury any time,” said Bill Swarrow, Beth-Center’s head coach and Zach’s father. “He had (the boot) on until Christmas Eve. He just started practicing (Friday). He’ll miss the tri-county tournament and probably the Burgettstown Tournament. I hope to have him back for Bedford.”
The Bedford Tournament, which runs Jan. 25-26, is crucial because many of the top wrestlers in the Southwest Region, including Swarrow, will be there. It’s a great place to test your skills against them or do a little scouting before the region tournament in Johnstown in March.
Before that, Zach Swarrow is concentrating on getting back into wrestling shape. He wasn’t able to run but could keep his upper body strength through weight lifting.
“The first practice, I felt pretty good,” said Zach Swarrow. “I was working on my feet the whole time. I have to have it taped pretty good, and I’m probably going to have to have it taped for the rest of the season.”
Swarrow weight is hovering around 116 pounds so getting to 113 won’t be difficult. He is concerned about his stamina and ridding himself of the rust that accompanies a month-long layoff on the mat.
“You can run now, but mat shape is a different thing,” said Bill Swarrow. “We’re not rushing him.”
Swarrow, a strong student who is deciding between Waynesburg University and Pitt-Johnstown for college, was an eighth-place finisher at 113 pounds in last year’s state tournament, took fourth-place in the Southwest Region and third in the WPIAL Championships. He hoped to become Beth-Center’s winningest wrestler, catching Marc Bartolomucci’s 138 victories late in the season, but that’s not going to happen. He’s at 104.
“Getting the record wasn’t the main goal,” he said. “I knew it would have happened if I had gone to states. That’s the goal.”
The first installment of the Observer-Reporter’s Wrestling Rankings, along with an update of the team rankings, can be found in the Scoreboard section on Page B-2.
Ten area wrestlers hold the No. 1 position in their weight class and 29 appear in either the top five in Class AAA and top three in Class AA.
The Tri-CADA Wrestling Tournament begins Friday at Ringgold High School and will include Canon-McMillan, the No. 5 team in the country, according to Intermat. The Big Macs missed last year’s tournament because of scheduling conflict with the Virginia Duals. They are the heavy favorite to win the team title.
Action gets under way at 4:30 p.m. Saturday’s action begins at 9 a.m., semifinals are at 10:30 a.m. and finals are at 2:30 p.m.
Two other major events will be held this weekend: the Westmoreland County Tournament is at Franklin Regional and the Allegheny County Tournament will be held at Fox Chapel.