Nanticokes Mitkowksi hopes to follow
Every year an unknown wrestler crashes
onto the scene, running rampant through every tournament.
Theres a strong case that wrestler this
year could be Nanticokes Jeremy Mitkowski.
Nearly six years ago, Jeremys brother Jason
took that path, ousting opponents en route to titles in the District
2, Northeast Regional and PIAA Championships.
Now its Jeremys turn.
The Nanticoke 189-pounder has struggled throughout
his three-year career staying healthy. Finally in tip-top shape, the
senior became the first Trojan to qualify for the Class 2A Northeast
Regional since Brandon Jimmerson in 2006.
Jeremy placed second in the District 2 tournament
losing in the final overtime, a rideout to Elk Lakes Seth Canfield.
That loss kept Nanticoke from its first district
championship since Jason accomplished the feat in 2003.
A finish in the top three at the regional at
Williamsport this weekend and Jeremy will be the first Trojan to qualify
for the PIAA Championships since his brother.
I feel like I have a better chance now.
I think I am at my peak now, Jeremy said. All my injuries
are pretty much settled and gone away now. And I think I have a better
chance now that Im healthy.
Jason, who only wrestled for one year but finished
with a 37-1 record and a state title, attends every one of his brothers
Jason was also an all-state football player for
the Trojans and arguably one of the best athletes to come out the Wyoming
Valley Conference in the last decade.
Now working as a security guard at the Luzerne
County Correctional Facility, he has been an inspiration to his brother
and been by his side every step of the way.
Hes always been behind me and been
someone I look up to, Jeremy said. It showed me that in
one year, he can win states. Now that I have three years experience,
maybe I can follow up in his footsteps.
If Jeremy, who holds a 19-2 record this year,
follows Jasons path, the brothers will become only the second
set of siblings to claim state gold from District 2. Ricky and Rocky
Bonomo each won in 1981.
Jeremy, who happens to be in one of the toughest
brackets in the regional tournament, is taking the right approach for
the event. He hasnt looked at the pairings and doesnt know
much about the competition.
Most wrestlers do research on their opponents,
but not Jeremy.
I heard some stuff about them, but anything
can happen, he said. I just have to go in confident and
come out confident and give it my all. Like my brother said when he
won states, Its now or never senior year.
Line Mountains Jon Fausey, who is undefeated
and placed third in the state last year, is the top seed in the bracket.
If Jeremy and Fausey win their first round bouts, they will face in
In the bottom portion of the bracket sits Towanda
senior Darin Rockwell, who boasts a 35-1 record and lost to Fausey in
the District 4 finals.
A lot of times our guys get down to District
4 and are intimidated with the fast pace from District 4, Nanticoke
coach Joe Ebert said. Thats not going to happen with Jer.
There are times Ive seen him take eight, nine shots in one period
so he will be prepared.
Jeremys first loss of the season came to
Scrantons Matt Teaman. He was leading 9-0 before getting injured
and falling on his back giving Teaman the pin.
He missed the next eight matches recovering from
that injury and didnt lose until the district finals.
No more fluke losses and the Mitkowskis will
be a part of history, and Jeremy can add to the familys stellar
What: Northeast Regional Tournaments
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: Class 2A: at Williamsport High School;
Class 3A: at Freedom High School, Bethlehem
2003 PIAA 2A
State Wrestling Match
Won by Jason Mitkowski by score of 11-9
with a record of 37-1 accepting the State Championship award