2/25/2009
Nanticoke’s Mitkowksi hopes to follow brother
drosengrant@timesleader.com

Every year an unknown wrestler crashes onto the scene, running rampant through every tournament.
There’s a strong case that wrestler this year could be Nanticoke’s Jeremy Mitkowski.
Nearly six years ago, Jeremy’s brother Jason took that path, ousting opponents en route to titles in the District 2, Northeast Regional and PIAA Championships.
Now it’s Jeremy’s 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 Lake’s 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 I’m healthy.”
Jason, who only wrestled for one year but finished with a 37-1 record and a state title, attends every one of his brother’s matches.
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.
“He’s 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, follow’s Jason’s 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 hasn’t looked at the pairings and doesn’t 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, ‘It’s now or never – senior year.’ ”
Line Mountain’s 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 the semifinals.
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. “That’s not going to happen with Jer. There are times I’ve seen him take eight, nine shots in one period so he will be prepared.”
Jeremy’s first loss of the season came to Scranton’s 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 didn’t lose until the district finals.
No more fluke losses and the Mitkowskis will be a part of history, and Jeremy can add to the family’s stellar athletic background.
Up Next
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