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A Featured Lehman Interview

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"Q&A"
Parkland
HS/Lehigh University
3-time
NCAA DI All-American...
Jon Trenge





  2003 NCAA Championship Finals - Jon Trenge of Lehigh (right)
ties up the legs of Minnesota's Damion Hahn.  Hahn won 5-4.


11/29/09 Interview w/Jon Trenge!
Don Lehman




JON TRENGE
westyorkwrestlingalumni.com interview feature bio

   Jon Trenge tells me that coaching as an assistant coach is a fantastic experience,
especially when you are coaching at your alma mater... Parkland High School.  After
Jon graduated from Lehigh University, he took a little break from wrestling.  Jon was
devastated because he didn't achieve his goals in college.  Jon was ready to break,
and walk away from the sport.  Jon worked construction for several months and tried
to put the many pieces back together.  In November of that year, Jon called up his high
school coach and asked for help.  John S. Toggas was that special coach and was always
there for Jon.  They discussed wrestling, and how Jon missed it, but was afraid to come
back to it.  A man can only handle so much failure, and that is what Jon Trenge felt from
what he had accomplished...failure.  Jon Trenge was a 2-time PIAA AAA State Wrestling
Champion, a 3-time NCAA All-American at Lehigh, with a 2001-2005 record of 133-14,
34 falls, 3 EIWA titles, a 2nd ('02)- 2nd ('03) - and a 3rd ('05) at the NCAA DI tourney,
a World Team Member at the junior and university levels (placed 3rd), and was a
2-time Midlands Champion!  These HUGE accomplishments meant very little to Jon
Trenge at the time. When Jon was young, Wade Schalles came to the Talon Wrestling
Club and told the group to set their goals really high.  Schalles said "the higher you strive
to achieve, the more you will achieve!"  Trenge began to achieve a great deal of
success, but along the way, he became afraid of failing.
  Coach John S. "Moc" Toggas
helped Jon overcome the fear, and get back involved in the sport.  Jon helped "Moc"
coach at Brandywine Heights, where his son Matt was wrestling.
  It was fun again for
Jon to be coaching with his old high school coach. After one season of coaching at
Brandywine Heights, working part-time construction, and taking graduate courses
at Kutztown University, Jon was offered a job coaching at Lehigh University.  Jon
jumped at the opportunity!  Jon coached as an assistant at the college DI level for
two years and found it very rewarding!  Jon made some really positive connections
with the athletes and coaches at Lehigh, and learned a lot from them.  Yet, one of
the most important things Jon learned was that college coaching was not the best
fit for him.  Lehigh Head Coach, Greg Strobel helped him discover this.  Coach Strobel
strongly believed that Jon was put on this earth to be a science teacher and a high
school coach... and Jon agreed.  Coach Strobel pointed out that Jon has an innate
ability to work and connect with younger kids, teaching them, and motivating them
to succeed and achieve their potential.
  At Parkland, PA High School, Jon currently
coaches with Ryan Nunamaker (head varsity coach), Derek Jenkins (assistant and
former '98 PIAA State Champion under JS Toggas and a Rider U. wrestler) and Pete
Grodziak (assistant, Ship DII 2-time qualifier).  The four make a great wrestling staff!
The four really mesh well together and Jon is enjoying every second of it.  The
wrestlers at Parkland have been working hard all summer and preseason, and
Jon really looks forward to watching them develop into fine young men.  Jon's
goal is to teach them to set their goals high, and not to be afraid to fail.  Knowing
that the process is paramount will help the young men develop and enjoy their
athletic experience.  Jon states that there is too much negative pressure on
athletes today... and that winning is not the most important thing to focus on.
If you focus solely on winning, all else can be lost.  If you focus on all else, you
will inevitably win.
  That is the message Jon Trenge emphasizes to his kids.


PARKLAND HS ALUMNUS

  ▪
Jon Trenge is an Earth & Space Science Teacher at Parkland High School,

where he is also an assistant wrestling coach under head coach
*Ryan Nunamaker.
(
*Ryan Nunamaker was a '92 PIAA State Wrestling Champion - Nazareth HS 130lbs.)
Don Lehman, owner and webmaster of westyorkwrestlingalumni.com
asked Jon Trenge for a Q & A interview.  Jon graciously accepted.

LEHIGH UNIVERSITY WRESTLING ALUMNUS

JON TRENGE INTERVIEW (11/29/09)
by:
Don Lehman
Don Lehman
Webmaster, Archivist & Owner of westyorkwrestlingalumni.com




DL
- Jon, you are now teaching and coaching wrestling at your alma mater - Parkland High School in Allentown, PA.  How is the new teaching job going and is your team ready for the very tough District 11 wrestling schedule?
JT - Don, teaching is a lot of fun!  Every day brings new challenges, and I am constantly trying to find new ways to challenge and intrigue my students.  I believe that our team is on an upswing.  I helped out last year while I was student-teaching and I saw a lot of promise.  The guys dedicated themselves to the sport throughout the summer and... thoroughly this season.  I know they want to be great, and we are providing them with the tools.  We'll have to wait and see how it turns out, but my guess is that we will be a force to be reckoned with from here out.

 
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DL - Your coaching staff at Parkland includes three former PIAA State Wrestling Champions (Ryan Nunamaker '92, Derek Jenkins '98, Jon Trenge '98-'99) plus your other assistant, Pete Grodziak, was a very good wrestler at Parkland HS and Shippensburg University.  With that much talent on the staff, and... I'm sure with different technique ideas and styles, who teaches the moves in the wrestling room?
JT - It all depends on what we are going over.  Coach Nunamaker has allowed me to alternate running some practices with him.  I'm sure he is interested to see what I will do differently than him.  He is a student of the sport and is just as eager to learn as the next guy.  I think any one of our coaches could pretty much show any move with clarity and success.  The key is consistency and retaining the wrestler's enthusiasm while stressing the basics.  To do this, we all contribute to the technical aspect, but we make sure that we are on the same page ahead of time.
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DL - I'm guessing you started wrestling at an early age.  How did you become interested in wrestling, who were your early mentors... and, did you participate in any other sports growing up?
JT - Well, I started wrestling at the age of 7.  For many people, that is much too young.  A lot of kids today are traveling the country competing in all of these national competitions, and I think it is ridiculous.  Only one percent of those kids will make it through their senior year without completely burning out.  The trick is to have fun while you're young, and gradually become more enthralled in the sport that suits you best.  I always loved the sport.  I think the reason is that there is always a new challenge... and I enjoy extending myself to achieve new things.  In high school, I ran track for a couple of weeks and was on the fitness team.  These sports were very casual for me, and I did them purely for enjoyment.
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DL - What are your thoughts on the many athletes today that are concentrating on one sport versus being a multiple sport athlete at the high school level?
JT - Like I mentioned above, many of these young men will burn out before they are old enough to achieve their goals.  What I think affects kids the most is when adults (parents and coaches) pressure them into only focusing on one sport.  When I was in high school, I knew that my family didn't have enough money for me to attend a great university if we had to pay.  I wanted nothing less than to put myself or my parents in debt.  So I decided at a relatively early age (eleven) that I was going to earn a full scholarship to Lehigh University.  I dedicated everything I had to doing this, and was fortunate enough to have it work out.  I was rare, in that, I wanted to do only one sport all year long.  I know of a few kids who want to spend more than 3 or 4 months working on wrestling, but they are told if they miss spring lifting for football, they will not be allowed to start.  I think this is an awful way to treat high school athletes.  As a result, these kids never get to experience freestyle wrestling... in my opinion, the coolest type of wrestling.
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DL - Jon, you won two PIAA State AAA Wrestling Championships in 1998 and 1999 @ 189lbs. - under the guidance of John S. Toggas (Parkland) while wrestling in the very tough District 11 area of Pennsylvania.  Your high school record was a stellar 145-16.  You won both the High School Nationals and Junior Nationals.   Pick out a great win and a disappointing loss while in high school... and, what did you learn from both?
JT - I'll start with the "disappointing loss" so that I can end on a good note.  The most disappointing loss I experienced in high school was in the Manheim Central Christmas Tournament.  I wrestled Cumberland Valley's Jon Sauve (ranked #2 in PA state, behind me) in the finals.  I took him down with an arm drag, and we went out of bounds.  When we came back in, he got a good jump on the whistle and was heading for the edge of the circle, so I locked around his waist and stepped around the corner and threw him right over my head.  He landed hard, and I was disqualified.  Sauve was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, and I knew right away what I did was wrong.  Sometimes I would creep too close to the edge... trying to be as intense as I possibly could.  This is one of the things that led me to be successful, but also what caused me to go over the edge a few times in my career.  I regret those times.

The most "rewarding win" in high school was when I wrestled Dan Stine in the finals of the Beast of the East Tournament.  He had a 78 (I think) match winning streak going and was a two-time state champ from New York.  Under-aged and supposedly out-matched, I came from behind to take Stine down with an inside trip and a foot pick in the third period.  These two takedowns gave me the victory by a one-point margin in the Beast of the East.
(note: Dan Stine went on to wrestle at the University of Pittsburgh)
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John S. "Moc" Toggas


DL - Your coach at Parkland, the late John S. "Moc" Toggas (son of our Mary Jane & Coach John T. Toggas of West York HS) was a very influential figure in your life.  You keep in close contact today with Moc's son Matt, as well as Mary Jane and Coach JT Toggas.  How did you deal with the loss of your good friend? 
(note: John S. Toggas will be inducted into the 2010 PWCA Hall of Fame on 4/25/10 in State College, PA)
JT - It was really hard.  I will never forget the day he passed.  I was in the Lehigh weight room putting wrestlers through a lift and I got a call.  I can't even remember who called me.  I couldn't believe it was real.  My first reaction was to kick the big ploy box halfway across the weight room, because I was mad!  This is the second time that someone close to me was taken by a drunk driver.  Then I collapsed and cried.  Tim Dernian came in and saw me sitting there in tears.  He ran over and asked what happened.  When I told him, he sat and cried with me.  He met John during the summer camps at Lehigh.  I drove out to Fogelsville to meet up with John's son Matt at a park.  We tried to figure out where to go from here.  Anyone who knows the family knows that John meant everything to Matt.  He was an amazing father, and dedicated himself to taking care of his two children (Samantha & Matt).  He served as a mother and father to them for most of their childhood.  I helped John coach Matt at Brandywine Heights for a year, and so I knew that I needed to be there for him.  Matt was going to need some shoulders to lean on for a while.  I'm still here, and he still occasionally leans on me.  I am happy to be there for him.  Matt is a great friend of mine, and I know that John is happy that I am there to support him if he needs anything.
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DL - I'm sure you were recruited by many colleges during your senior year at Parkland, why did you choose Lehigh University and who were the close second and third choices?
JT - There really weren't any close seconds and thirds.  I wouldn't go that far away from my dad.  He and I have a similar relationship to John S. and Matt Toggas.  We are very close.  When I was in the sixth grade, Sergei Beloglazov ran a club over at Lehigh.  My dad would take me there once or twice a week for a couple of years.  We loved Sergei, and Lehigh.  I wrote a paper in sixth grade that was about what I wanted to do when I grow up.  I wrote that I wanted to win states, win high school nationals, get a full scholarship to Lehigh, win the NCAA's, and be a World or Olympic champion.  I never achieved all my goals, but I think that I am a perfect example of what Wade Schalles always emphasized at clinics... "the higher you set your goals, the more you will achieve along the way."
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DL -  Your career at Lehigh was phenomenal - a record of 133-14, 3 EIWA Championships, 3 top-3 finishes at the NCAA DI Championships, 2 prestigious Midlands Championships, and NWCA All-Academic honors... and many more, yet, you felt like you had failed because you didn't win a NCAA title!  Tell me a little bit about the emotions you struggled with, and, "if" you had won a NCAA title... hypothetically - what would your life be like now?  
JT - If I had won a NCAA title, I might have stayed a college coach a little longer and pursued a head coaching position.  After every practice at Lehigh, I would stay and work out with other people who were dedicated to staying longer.  After we were all done, I would jump rope facing the wall in the wrestling room that has all of the Lehigh NCAA Champions on it.  I have the wall memorized.  I wanted to be on that wall more than anything.  I will never have my picture on that wall.  I have been looking at it since I was eleven years old dreaming about being on it, and part of Lehigh's history.  All that was lost, the minute I lost to Northern Iowa's Sean Stender in my semi-final match as a senior in the '05 NCAA Championships.
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DL - Jon, you wrestled the legend, Iowa State's Cael Sanderson (159-0), in the finals of the 2002 NCAA Championships in Albany NY.  Cael Sanderson (a senior in his last college match) beat you 12-4 in the 197lb. finals and was named Outstanding Wrestler at the tournament.  You were a sophomore at Lehigh.  You had to be in awe as you shook hands with Cael Sanderson - what were your thoughts at that moment?
JT - I wanted to throw him to his back and pin him.  He was really something special.  The first time I wrestled him, my coaches wanted me to open up and try whatever I could.  I lost badly in the semi-finals of the Midlands (16-6... I think).  The next time I wrestled him, my coaches wanted me to keep it close.  So, I stopped him from scoring in the first period.  I wound up losing 6-1, after a last effort for a takedown backfired and gave him the extra three seconds he needed for riding time.  The '02 NCAA finals... I had a game plan, but it was immediately screwed up by the officials.  Early in the match, Sanderson shot and switched off to a double.  The referee awarded him two points.  I had a cement job locked, so Cael wouldn't unlock his hands.  He held me there (not on my back) with his hands locked for almost ten seconds until he was able to push me to my back.  This should have been a locked hands penalty, and a fresh start.  Instead, he got three near fall points plus the riding time.  I figure that without this officiating error, it would have been a much closer match than 12-4... perhaps 8-5.
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DL - I remember watching the 2003 NCAA Wrestling Championships from Kansas City, MO on TV - and, when you lost in the championship finals to Minnesota's Damion Hahn, 5-4, while leading most of the match... I was devastated!  What happens to the mind and body in that highly emotional situation?
JT - I failed to follow the instructions of my coaches.  They wanted me to keep offensive, but I tried to protect the lead.   In a situation like that, people call it choking.  That is what it feels like too!  You get so tense with the thought that you are so close to your goals that you freeze.  The mind is too tied up to let the body function properly.  You will feel like the clock is standing still, and you are more tired than you ever have been in your life... that is what it feels like to choke.  I have nightmares about it.  As a coach, it is the last thing that I ever want to see happen to my athletes, because it was the hardest thing I ever had to deal with.
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DL - I have to bring up the eye injuries.  I read somewhere that just before the 2001 EIWA tournament as a redshirt freshman, you saw a huge black spot whenever you looked out of your right eye.  That ended your season.  An eye specialist then told you that wrestling was "over" as a result of lattice degeneration, a tearing of the retina probably attributed to wrestling.  After the surgeries, you wore the infamous goggles, but not without controversy!  It had to be a huge detriment!
JT - I am extremely thankful for the people who helped me find and use the goggles effectively, but I hated every minute of it.  I really thought they were ruining the sport for me.  I felt like everyone was out to hurt me.  After a handful of eye surgeries, it is probably best not to compete.  Yet, I have found that telling someone they are not allowed to wrestle anymore is not as easy as it sounds.  Greg Strobel always used to tell me that I was acting like a baby.  Then, after I beat Oklahoma State's Jake Rosholt at the National Duals, I told him to put them on!  I grabbed him (Strobel) and clubbed his head and put my hands in his face a couple of times and he immediately backed up and said - "that's enough!!"  That is how I felt every match.  The officials did a pretty poor job of making me feel like they were going to help me keep people out of my face.  I would warn officials once... "he's in my face, grabbing my goggles."  usually they would tell me that they don't see anything wrong.  Then I would tell them again.  From there on, my defenses would go up, and up, and up... until I felt like I was in a corner left to defend myself.  There were only a few officials who did a good job of keeping the opponents hands and fingers out of my eyes.
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DL - In the 2003-2004 season, you took an "Olympic Training Year" - and traveled to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO to try out for the team.  What was that experience like?
JT - I vomited before the first several practices, because I was so nervous.  There were more than four guys on the Olympic ladder at my weight in the wrestling room every day.  They typically weighed 225lbs., and I would weigh in at 206lbs. before practice.  It was like a battle every morning and every afternoon.  I think that my senior year was worse because of the Olympic year.  Looking back, I might have been better off to stay at Lehigh and just train for a year after I graduated.  This would have given me another shot at Minnesota's Damion Hahn.
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DL - Your last college loss was in the 2005 NCAA Championship semi-finals (St. Louis, MO)... as Sean Stender of Northern Iowa (#5 seed) decisioned/upset you 5-3.  You were the #1 seed.  Then, you came back in the consolations with two major decisions - 11-3 over Wynn Michalak of Central Michigan and 12-1 over Joel Flaggert of Oklahoma for 3rd place.  After that match, you left your shoes on the mat... a sign of the "last" match.  What emotions did you feel at that moment?
JT - I was really proud of myself for wrestling the way I did to get third.  I hurt my leg in the semi-final match with Stender and couldn't really lift my foot.  I had every reason to bag it.  I already placed second twice in the NCAA's, what good will third do for me???  Deep down, I knew that I had to do it.  That is the test of character that I knew I couldn't fail.  When the going gets tough, I'm there.  I don't run.  I had to wrestle, and I had to wrestle better than I ever did before.  I had two tough kids for those matches, but I crushed them.  It felt great to wrestle without the pressure of a goal.  It was the first time in my career that I wrestled to make myself proud, rather than to achieve something... and it felt awesome!  I didn't plan to take my shoes off, and I can tell you that if those last two matches went differently, I wouldn't have.  They were satisfying, and that is what I needed in my last matches as a competitor.  I think it pretty much sums up who I was as a wrestler and person.
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DL - A Parkland wrestler and graduate, Howie Miller, produced and directed a documentary movie (Veritas) about the Lehigh University 2004-05 Wrestling Team featuring Jon Trenge.  Tell me a little about that venture and why did you choose the title name - Veritas? 
(note: Veritas, most often, in Plautus and Republican literature meant "true" in the sense of firm, capable of withstanding a test or trial.  To persevere.)
JT - Howie chose the title.  I like it, but wish it was different.  I have a tattoo on my right thigh that I got after I lost to Damion Hahn.  The tattoo has a lot of meaning to me, and is very significant to the movie.  However, the reason I got it on my thigh is so that young kids wouldn't see it when I was wrestling or doing clinics.  I never wanted to contribute to young people wanting to alter their bodies.  I'm sorry that the movie does that.  It is a great movie, and I am really honored to be part of it.  I think that Veritas shows a lot about what wrestlers go through, and how their families live "it" with them.  This movie is my legacy.
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DL - What part did your family play in your success as a wrestler?
JT - My goodness, without the support of my parents, I would have been nothing.  This is something that can't be taken for granted.  The dollars, the energy, the time, the emotions, the commitment that parents put into their children is amazing.  To not recognize it and appreciate it would be a crime.  I was gifted with some great parents.  My mom was always there to support and encourage me.  I think I get a lot of my stubbornness from her, and without that trait, I wouldn't have been half the wrestler I was.  My dad is an extreme perfectionist!  This carried over to my wrestling, and without it, my technique would have been decent at best.  I am thankful for the relationship that I have with my parents and that they were there to experience the best years with me.
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DL - What are the fundamentals you emphasize with today's wrestlers?
JT - Everyone wants to drill shots all the time.  This is like having a sword in battle.  While it is good to be able to use that sword, you better bring your shield too!  Sprawling is so important to wrestling.  Air Force Head Coach Joel Sharratt once said in a clinic at the Talon Wrestling Club that if you have a "sprawl" that is better than anyone's shot, you can't lose!  You can be a state champion without even shooting.  Now, I agree that this would be extremely boring to watch, but it stresses the point -- learn/drill the sprawl -- as well as you drill your shots.
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DL - How has Parkland Wrestling and the kids changed since you were a standout athlete in the late 1990's?
JT - The biggest change is that John S. Toggas is not there anymore.  I think he is proud of what we are doing with the kids, though.  I am looking forward to achieving something with this team that has never been achieved before... a PIAA State Wrestling Team Title.
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DL - Jon, thank you for the time and interview!  The best of luck this season - and I hope we can play some golf again next year!
JT - Thank you, Don.  I appreciate the opportunity.  I'm flattered that a couple of people might be interested enough to read this.  I apologize for the wordiness... I talk too much!!  Take care, Don.

You can e-mail Jon Trenge HERE!   Parkland High School Wrestling Website - HERE!

West York Wrestling Alumni - if you want to support this website - GO HERE!


2002 NCAA Finals - Lehigh's Jon Trenge (bottom) struggles to
escape from Iowa State's Cael Sanderson.  Sanderson won 12-4.



▪ Lehigh's 197lb. Jon Trenge (standing) with Oklahoma State's Jake Rosholt.
Trenge defeated the 3-time NCAA Champion Rosholt, 10-8, in a 1/22/05 dual meet.
Trenge also defeated Rosholt again in a 2/13/05 dual meet, 3-2.



Lehigh University's Jon Trenge
∙ Watch Classic Lehigh Matches... by TheMatMedia.com

                                    

▪ (L-R) Parkland HS Coaches Jim Best, John S. "Moc" Toggas and Steve Baumbach...
with 1998 PIAA AAA State Champs Derek Jenkins and Jon Trenge - in Hersheypark.
▪ Jon Trenge won another PIAA State wrestling title in 1999.

Jon Trenge - in the Movie & DVD... VERITAS (trailer)




▪ Randy Blasdell's Bulldog Golf Open...  8/8/09

"CLICK ON BULLDOG OPEN LOGO FOR OPEN PHOTOS w/JON!"


CC Team "Veritas" Toggas/Trenge/Lehman
The 2009
*3rd Place Blasdell Bulldog Open Team... @ -1 (69).
(L-R) John T. Toggas, Don Lehman, Jon Trenge, Matt Toggas.

2011 - Parkland Wrestling's
Jon Trenge @ the
John S.
"Moc" Toggas Memorial Golf Scramble

▪ 5/15/11 - Parkland Assistant Wrestling Coach - Jon Trenge...
holding a sign from sponsor & sister (Moc)... Steph Leinbach.
Jon Trenge - 2-time PIAA State Wrestling Champ @ (Parkland HS)
and, a 3-time NCAA All-American @ (Lehigh U) -
J. Trenge Q & A.
5/15/11 - Coach John T. Toggas played in his son's memorial
tourney with Jon Trenge, Matt Toggas and Samantha Toggas
... the coach's grandkids.  It was a very well attended event!


                                                                             
              PWCA 2015 PA Wrestling Hall of Fame (13)
                 Nelson Fritz, Nick Grego,
Charles Jacobs, Rich Kelvington, Jerry Lattimore,
              
  
Dustin Manotti, Kerry McCoy, Ron Nelson, John Reich, Carl Rhodes, Jon Trenge,
                 Gene Waas & Lyman "Beans" Weaver. (April 12, 2015 State College Induction)

 

The Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame
Norm Palovcsik, HOF Chairman.  Mike Smith, HOF Master of Ceremonies.


2015 Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame Class (13)
Seated (L-R) Nelson Fritz, Nick Grego, Charlie Jacobs, Richard Kelvington,
Jerry Lattimore and
Dustin Manotti.
Standing (L-R) Kerry McCoy's PSU Ed. Advisor, Ronald Nelson, John Reich,
Carl Rhodes,
Jon Trenge, Gene Waas and Lyman "Beans" Weaver's - wife.
  (April 12, 2015 Induction @ Ramada Inn... State College, PA)     Bios
photo by Tom Elling of PA Wrestling


A FULL PWCA HALL OF FAME LIST...1970-2016


PWCA 2015 (46th Annual Ceremony Inductees)


WRESTLING




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