Meadville Tribune

Sports

July 24, 2012

WRESTLING: Local names highlight D-10 Legends Night

July 24, 2012 7:00 a.m. — More than six years ago, former Meadville Area Senior High School heavyweight Erick Brown was in no shape to wrestle. At nearly 500 pounds, Brown was far from his 275-pound high school wrestling weight.

But in just a few days, the 47-year-old will return to the mat for the second District 10 Legends Night at Thiel College.

The event takes place Saturday at 7 p.m. in the college’s Rissell-Beeghley Gymnasium. Brown will be among the 40 wrestlers from age 18 to 51 who will compete. Some are recently removed from their high school or collegiate careers, while others will be grappling for the first time in years.

Brown was a two-time District 10 champion and state qualifier prior to graduating from MASH in 1983. As recently as October 2005, he weighed 497 pounds before he had adjustable gastric band surgery.

During the surgery, a laparoscopic adjustable gastric band was installed around the top portion of his stomach to treat obesity by reducing the amount of food consumed. By January 2006, Brown had lost 130 pounds, and he’s around 300 pounds today.

Prior to October 2005, Brown said he couldn’t walk three miles. Now, he’s running nine miles a week in preparation for his bout against former Cochranton wrestler Matt Hogue, who is in his 30s.

“I think I’m just going to enjoy the moment,” Brown said. “I thank God for being able to do this. ... I count it as a blessing that I’m able to do it.”

Brown, who is currently the assistant principal at Rising Sun High School in North East, Md., said he upped his training in preparation for this bout. And he has one objective in mind.

“My goal is to not embarrass myself,” Brown said with a laugh. “Other than that, I want to make sure I have some decent cardio. I want my wind to be up.”

The event will also include what organizer and Thiel assistant wrestling coach Jeff Linn says are the first amateur tag team matches in the history of wrestling. There will be three tag team bouts, with each pair of wrestlers alternating three one-minute periods.

Among those tag team matches will be the duo of unrelated former Thiel wrestlers Corey Brown and Kyle Brown against current University of Pittsburgh standout Shelton Mack and former Edinboro University grappler Josh Pearce. Corey is a four-time All-American and Kyle was once an All-American at the Division III level. Both Pearce and MASH grad Mack, who is still wrestling for the Panthers, have been Division I national qualifiers.

Kyle Brown is also the son of Erick. Kyle, 28, competed in the previous District 10 Legends Night and Erick didn’t want to be left out this time.

“When I heard about it last time, I actually told Kyle, ‘You tell him I’m offended that they had a Legends Night and I didn’t get invited,” Brown joked. “It’s definitely an honor to wrestle on the same mat as my son.”

There are a number of other Crawford County grapplers competing, including MASH head wrestling coach Barry Anderson and Maplewood head coach Matt Wilcox. The youngest wrestler is 2012 Cambridge Springs graduate Shawn Reynolds, while Harbor Creek’s Don Henry will be competing at age 51.

Each bout is three one-minute periods. There will not be weigh-ins. Instead, the wrestlers were matched up within five pounds of each other and will follow an honor system to stay around that weight, said Linn, who is expecting an attendance of 1,000.

The feature bout of the night is between Hudson Harrison and three-time NCAA Division I All-American Jeff Catrabone. Harrison is a General McLane graduate and NCAA Division II runner-up at the then-Mercyhurst College, and Catrabone attended Harbor Creek and the University of Michigan.

Harrison, 27, is almost a decade younger than Catrabone. When Harrison found out who his opponent would be, he found video of one of Catrabone’s matches at nationals on YouTube.

“You have to do a little bit of research,” Harrison said. “I might as well see what he’s got so there aren’t any surprises.”

Harrison is also excited about competing against someone who had such a successful career.

“Upon news of who I was wrestling ... I’ve been a little bit more serious about putting my best foot forward and giving him a good match,” Harrison said.

All proceeds from ticket sales and sponsorships at D10 Legends Night will benefit former McDowell head wrestling coach Eric Witherite and his family. Witherite was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) with a life expectancy of two to four years. Witherite and his wife Amy have two children — six-year-old Luke and four-year-old Hayden.

“He’s really excited about this,” Linn said of Witherite, who will serve as one of the coaches. “I think it’s going to be really neat for him too. This might be his last time coaching.

“It’s a sad situation,” he said, “but he’s the type of guy that always makes light of every situation. I’ve never met anybody like him.”

The doors will open at 6 p.m., with matches starting at approximately 7:15. Tickets are $10 for adults, $15 for VIP seating, and $5 for children. Children 5 and under are free of charge. All ticket sales are only available at the door on the night of the event.

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