Central York wrestler Michael Wolfgram has a different type of homework assignment.
He is tasked with memorizing the lyrics to John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which is commonly sung by fans at West Virginia University sporting events.
Wolfgram announced on Twitter Wednesday that he has orally committed to wrestle for WVU.
“I really liked the atmosphere of the college and the town,” Wolfgram said. “It has that little bit of city feel and a little bit of country feel, and I liked that. They also have a new coaching staff. The coaches, the guys and the people there are amazing.”
Choosing the Mountaineers: The senior heavyweight was also being recruited by other NCAA Division I schools such as Rider, Oklahoma and Clarion. He ultimately chose WVU after his visit on Sept. 21, when he said the coaching staff, led by first-year head coach Tim Flynn, impressed him.
“Everyone on that coaching staff has been at a very high level,” Wolfgram said. “Coach Flynn has coached (so) many All-Americans. … They know what it takes to win. When I’m not doing something right, they’ll let me know I need to fix it because they know what it takes.”
The 2018-19 season will be Flynn’s first with the Mountaineers. He spent the last 21 seasons at Edinboro University, amassing a 223-95-5 record and coaching three individual national champions.
“You watch Coach Flynn and the coaches out there, you've seen their track record of success,” Central head coach Seth Beitz said. “They haven’t been at WVU long, but you can see it coming. They’re improving and getting better. That’s exciting for Michael to be a part of. It’s a great opportunity for him to join a team like that.”
The Mountaineers went 6-7 last season and finished ninth in the Big 12 Tournament. Despite struggling last season, WVU is traditionally one of the better teams in the Big 12.
“I think Mike is that diamond of the rough that WVU saw,” Beitz said. “I’m really excited for him to be in a college room with guys of his caliber and coaches who can push him. I’m excited to see how much more he can grow.”
Wolfgram can sign his national letter of intent on Nov. 14.
Wolfgram’s development: The 5-foot, 11-inch, 260-pound heavyweight is 103-16 in his high school career, including a fourth-place state finish in PIAA Class 3-A as a junior. He hasn’t lost a regular-season bout since his freshman season and he won the District 3 title each of the last two seasons.
“Mike’s years have gone really fast,” Beitz said. “He’s improved by so much each year. It is really exciting to watch someone of his caliber compete. It isn’t every day you have someone with his natural ability. To watch him pick things up so quickly and implement them in a match is amazing to watch. He has a natural feel for the sport.”
Wolfgram was quick to credit the Central York community and his family for his success.
“I think I’ve made some big jumps in my career, mainly due to the fact of having a great support system with my parents, my coaches and my Central York family,” he said. “Everyone has been behind me since day one to allow me to do big things. It made me push myself harder to live up to those expectations.”
Senior season: Wolfgram and the rest of the Panthers start practice on Nov. 16.
Beitz said Wolfgram’s strategy will be to consistently score points throughout the match, rather than getting caught up in outside factors.
“The thing we talk about is scoring points and always looking to gain points and not looking at the clock,” Beitz said. “If he’s out there competing hard and he’s wrestling his match, I’m going to have an easy season coaching him. When he sticks to that, he is hard to beat.”
Winning his first state title is obviously a goal, but Wolfgram said it’s not something he’s singularly focused on heading into his final high school season.
“I can say I want to win a state title, but if you start looking too far ahead, you forget what’s happening right now,” Wolfgram said. “It’s my senior year. I just want to score a lot of points and have fun with it.”
Reach Jacob Calvin Meyer at email@example.com.