WEST CHESTER — West Chester East’s Noah Hankin and West Chester Henderson’s Kyle Medrow have flirted with trips to the state tournament the past few years, only to come up just short.
Reaching Hershey is one of the more challenging feats in the wrestling world, and often the signature accomplishment of many. For the West Chester duo, it is now the ultimate motivation in their senior campaigns.
Hankin has reached the Class AAA Southeast Regional tournament the past two seasons, while Medrow has qualified each of his first three years.
“It’s motivating, but I’m taking it match by match,” Medrow said. “I remember the past but don’t let it affect the present. I’m trying to get better every day.”
Four Ches-Mont wrestlers — Downingtown East’s Wade Cummings (126 pounds), Coatesville’s Chase Stephens (145) and West Chester Rustin’s Brett Kaliner (120) and Costas Hatzipavlides (182) — are returning state qualifiers, the most since the 2012-13 season.
Medrow (132) looked like he could be part of that group entering his junior season but things didn’t go as planned. Medrow took third at leagues and districts, but losses to Rustin’s Dan Labus thwarted the path to the Giant Center.
“I think, if anything, it put into perspective how sharp you have to be that time of year,” Henderson coach Rob Beighley said. “The positive out of it is it’s motivated him more and made him more goal-driven. I think he knows what the expectations are for him and he’s not caught up by the spotlight.”
Hankin (126) won his first league and district titles last year at 120 pounds, but dropped the rubber match to Harry S. Truman’s Dylan Nuttall at regionals, ending his season a couple wins shy of states.
There are 11 seniors in the Ches-Mont who qualified for regionals last year without making it to states, and all have similar goals as Hankin.
“My first goal is to get 100 wins,” Hankin said. “I want to get to states, and if I get there, my third goal is to medal.”
Hankin is 83-31 through three seasons, and is trying to become the first Viking to qualify for states since Josh Mummert in 2006-07. Nine Warriors have reached Hershey in that span, and Medrow hopes to give Henderson a qualifier for the third consecutive year.
Medrow is 93-27, winning 60 bouts by fall. His flashy, funky style makes him dangerous from any position and gives him a chance no matter the score. At regionals last winter he fell to Council Rock South’s Zack Trampe, a state runner-up, 21-14, proving he can score with the best of them. Now it’s about tightening things up and becoming more sound.
“There’s technique for everything, so I’m trying to keep everything crisp and clean and get back to the basics,” Medrow said.
Hankin has found his success with a more traditional style. The Viking has won 43 of his matches by decision or major decision, including all seven of his wins in the postseason last winter.
With a strong, calculated style, Hankin keeps himself in most matches. Entering his final run he hopes to find the offense when he needs it.
“He’s always been the most driven, hardest-working kid and he works hard 12 months a year,” East coach John Gallo said. “I think he’s more focused and just trying to get better every day to get to the end goal.”
The way it’s currently set up, the Southeast region and Southcentral region rotate a fifth qualifier for the state tournament. This year the Southeast will send four qualifiers from each weight, making it even tougher to clear that final hurdle.
Hankin and Medrow are both captains and the most accomplished wrestlers on their teams. While team success is important, it’s that last month of the wrestling season that makes the season. For the West Chester pair, the next three-plus months is about putting all the training in the past together for a grand finale.
“I’ve learned you have to stick with it,” Hankin said. “You gotta keep going when it gets harder.”
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