For Mason Myers, it was an opportunity that was simply too good to pass up.
That’s why the two-sport Central York High School standout recently committed to wrestle for a legendary head coach at one of the top NCAA Division II programs in the nation.
Myers is headed to Pitt-Johnstown, which is coming off a 21-3 season in 2019-2020, including a 7-0 mark en route to winning the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference regular-season title. The Mountain Cats finished the season ranked No. 3 in the final Intermat D-II national rankings. The 2019-2020 wrestling postseason was not finished because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Winning championships is nothing unusual at Pitt-Johnstown under longtime head coach Pat Pecora, who owns a 618-151-5 record over four-plus decades at the school. His 617th win on Feb. 7 made him the all-time winningest college wrestling coach at any level.
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“I really like coach Pecora,” Myers said. “They have a rich winning history … I’m really excited to chase individual and team titles there.”
Myers, who plans to major in business, said he also considered Millersville, Penn State, West Virginia, George Mason, Buffalo and York College. He said the financial package offered by Pitt-Johnstown, along with the school’s success on the mat, were the major factors in his decision.
Stellar prep career in two sports: Myers wrestled at 132 pounds for the Panthers this past season, finishing 37-6 and taking eighth in the Class 3-A state meet. It was his first-ever state medal.
“That was the goal all the way throughout high school,” Myers said. “Getting that medal my senior year definitely excited me. Now I’m ready to get more.”
Myers, who ended his Central career at 124-36, plans to wrestle at either 133 or 141 at Pitt-Johnstown. That weight shouldn’t present much of a problem for him. Myers said he’s never been known for having to cut a lot of weight.
In fact, he played football for the Panthers this past fall at about 138 pounds. His small size, however, didn’t prevent him from earning second-team 6-A all-state recognition from the Pennsylvania Football News as a kick returner.
He scored three touchdowns on punt returns and finished with 297 yards off 16 punt returns, averaging nearly 19 yards per return. He also finished with 251 kick return yards on 10 returns, with a long of 71. He also started as a slot receiver and cornerback for Central. As a receiver, he had 22 receptions for 274 yards. He helped Central to a 9-1 regular season and a Y-A D-I championship.
Work and workouts: With Central shut down because of the pandemic, Myers is filling up his days with work and workouts.
He’s putting in 40-plus hours per week at Sam’s Club. Despite those long hours working with the public, Myers said he’s not worried about getting COVID-19 because his employer is taking every precaution to protect its employees and customers.
When he’s not working, he’s trying his best to stay in shape, doing 300 push-ups, 200 squats, 200 sit-ups and 100 pull-ups daily. In fact, he and some friends are making the workout routine into a group challenge to motivate each other.
A few months from now, provided the pandemic eases, Myers will find out if all of his hard work pays dividends on the mat while wrestling for a legendary coach at one of the best D-II programs in the nation.
Reach Steve Heiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.