By Drew Karpen
April 5, 2013 7:00 a.m. —
A section title, a district title and a region title. A state championship. And a school’s all-time mark for wins in a season.
Most wrestlers would like to rack up those accomplishments over the course of a career.
Saegertown’s Devin Brown did it all in a few months.
Now here’s another one for the Panthers’ 106-pound sophomore: The Meadville Tribune Wrestler of the Year.
From Saegertown to Hershey
In his first year with Saegertown, Brown finished his season with a record of 48-1, breaking teammate Tyler Vath’s school record of 42 wins, set last season. In fact, Vath, who was 45-7 this season, and Dylan Reynolds, who was 45-6, also broke that 42-wins mark this year.
None of Brown’s wins, however, were as huge as No. 48. That victory elevated him to the very top of the medal stand at Hershey’s Giant Center, after Brown defeated Bethlehem Catholic’s Luke Karam with a fall in overtime in the 106-pound final.
Brown became the first Panther to win a state title since Pat Bradshaw in 2005.
Brown’s lone loss came at the beginning of the year at the Powerade Tournament, in which he lost to Greater Latrobe’s Luke Pletcher 7-1 in the 106 final. Pletcher went on to win the 106-pound state championship in Class AAA.
After that loss, Brown simply went on to roll over each and every wrestler he faced from that point onward
“The one blemish was the loss at the Powerade Tournament,” said Mulligan. “He didn’t have a close match after that. He really didn’t have a close match until the state finals.”
From Ohio to Saegertown
The road to the Pennsylvania state championship began in an unlikely place for Brown.
He spent his freshman year at Steubenville High School in Ohio where his promise was already on display. In his freshman year, he placed third in Ohio High School Division II championships.
Yet, that wasn’t good enough for Brown’s grandfather, Tom. Tom felt that Devin wasn’t getting quite the competition, nor the academic standards, that suited Devin best.
So, Tom decided that it was time for a change. So he moved his grandson to one state over to what he calls “a quiet area” that would be a better fit for Devin, both as a student and a wrestler.
“I didn’t think (Steubenville) was a good environment for my grandson,” Tom Brown said. “I talked to his parents and told them of a great place. I told them it was a quiet area. This is just a great place to raise a child. Devin has never had any trouble in his life. He is just a great kid.”
Coach Mulligan was more than willing to accept one of the top lightweights in the northeast part of the country.
“The kid needed a fresh start,” Mulligan said. “It came down to a grandfather that loves his grandson and wanted to give him a chance to succeed in wrestling.”
There was no hesitation in Devin’s decision to join his grandfather in Saegertown.
“I thank him every day,” Brown said. “He didn’t have to do it but I know he wants the best for me. I don’t know if I thank him enough. He has been putting so much effort out there for me to succeed.”
When he first arrived at Saegertown, Brown didn’t know what to expect of his new teammates. But he was pleasantly surprised with how welcoming and encouraging they were, not to mention how good many of them were on the mat.
“When I came here I didn’t know about the wrestling team that well,” Brown said. “When I started wrestling with them they took me by surprise. They have been supporting me. When I am having a bad practice they keep encouraging me. It takes you a long way.”
Brown didn’t have such an easy transition when it came to his academics. But thanks to his coaches, friends, parents, teachers and tutors, he has once again exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“When I first came here it was a little bit hard,” Brown said. “They were so far ahead or behind everything I was doing. I had to transition into the classroom. Everybody has been supporting me with my academics. They know if you have a good academic status and you are good on the mat you can go very far. What people have been saying to me when I first came here is that you have to keep your grades up. That’s what I have been working for and it’s paying off.”
From this year to next
We didn’t pick Brown as Wrestler of the Year simply for winning the state title. It was also about how dominant he was in the process.
“It made it more impressive,” said Mulligan. “No matter how many points he was up in a match we emphasized to keep scoring. He kept the pressure on. It was hard to keep up with him.”
The competition got stiffer in the state championships, but Brown still looked strong, notching wins by fall and a pair of no-doubt decisions, 8-3 and 5-0
The match with Karam in the final was as close as things got. Regulation came to a close with the two wrestlers tied 2-2. But it was clear who was pressing in the match. And it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Brown made his final move.
And just as overtime started, there it was: Brown was in for a takedown, sticking Karam on his back for the pin in 6:12.
“Devin came out on top,” Mulligan said. “He wrestled a great state tournament. Even in the finals I was never really nervous. Devin had (Karam) broke. He just needs to pick his shots.”
Brown was ecstatic about winning the state title, but remained humble about the work that will come in the upcoming years.
“It was certainly great but I still have to improve on some things,” he said. “The job isn’t done. I still have to win two more.”
Some may say those are pretty lofty goals for a high school wrestler. Three state titles? Not for Devin Brown. Coach Mulligan knows the talent that he sees before his eyes and wants to make sure Devin takes full advantage of it.
“Devin is ranked 13th in the country,” Mulligan said. “There are 12 more spots to get too. He wants to be the best kid in his weight class in the country and I think he can get there. I think he has a chance to go down as the greatest lightweight in the history of the PIAA.”
For now, though, Devin Brown can simply celebrate one magnificent season.
“It was an awesome year,” he said. “I performed my hardest every match. It was awesome.”