Downingtown East’s Cummings becoming a force at 126 pounds

UWCHLAN — Downingtown East’s Wade Cummings never really had a choice. He was going to be a wrestler.

With bloodlines flowing from both sides of his family, Cummings was groomed to compete on the mat even before he realized it.

What Cummings also got from both sides of the family was his size, or lack there of. The result of all that nature and nurture is a very talented wrestler smack dab in the middle of the toughest weights to succeed in. For Cummings, who starts his junior season at 126 pounds, he relishes that great challenge.

“I like being where it’s so deep because it really shows your talent and it also gives you more to work forward to,’ Cummings said. “Being in one of the deepest weight classes makes you prove yourself and drives you to get where you want to be.’

Since Jermaine Jones won his second straight state title at 103 pounds for West Chester Henderson in 2001, only nine Ches-Mont wrestlers at 130 pounds or less have won Class AAA state medals. The lightest wrestlers to earn better than seventh since Jones were Kyle Bove (135) of Kennett in 2009 and Mason Popham (135) of Unionville in 2011. Both took third.

As Wade’s father, Darrin, explains it, being a lightweight doesn’t get any easier with time.

“It’s so deep and there are so many good wrestlers, especially in Pennsylvania, from 106-152,’ said Darrin, who is an assistant for East. “It’s loaded and it doesn’t matter that you got a year older. It doesn’t matter if you’re a junior or senior. There are freshmen and sophomores who are really tough and they just keep coming. You can never get comfortable.’

Wade experienced that his first two seasons. As a freshman, he was in a 113-pound regional bracket with four eventual multiple-time state medalists. As a sophomore, Wade reached the state tournament after winning the district tournament and finishing second at regionals.

He took the eventual third-place finisher, Nazareth’s Tyrone Klump, to ultimate tiebreaker but fell 3-2. Erie Cathedral Prep’s Jake Gromacki, who won four state medals, was upset in the first round, setting up a win-or-go-home bout against Wade. Gromacki won, 6-2.

“Last year the entire postseason was a landmark for Wade,’ East coach Joe Horvath said. “Having been able to put away league and district titles very efficiently and take the state runner-up (Scott Parker of Pennridge) to a 1-0 match in the regional final. He raised his sights a bit higher and I think he was in one of the toughest weight classes in the state and got downright unlucky at states.’

Being able to bounce back is essential in the wrestling world. And for Wade, he has more resources than many other area wrestlers.

Wade’s grandfather on his mother’s side is Sid Nodland, was Great Valley’s first wrestling coach and a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. Darrin’s father was a long-time coach in New York and was inducted into the Long Island Wrestling Hall of Fame. Three of Wade’s uncles and two of his cousins have won state medals.

Darrin, himself, was a high school state runner-up in New York. While Darrin was leading Downingtown West to its best years since the district split, Wade was there soaking it all in.

“There wasn’t ever a question I’d wrestle,’ Wade said. “I was always going to practice with my dad and watching his teams and I’d go to Hershey to watch my cousins (Garrett and Taylor Cummings) wrestle at states.’

For Darrin, coaching his son might be the most challenging feat he’s pulled off in his wrestling life.

“It’s nerve-wracking,’ Darrin said. “It’s so different. I’ve coached for a long time, but seeing my son out there gets me geared up a little more. I get a little more excited because I want him to do his best. When he hurts, I hurt.’

The tough moments have been few and far between for Wade through two seasons. He’s won 85 of his 91 matches, and is just 27 wins away from becoming East’s career leader. If reaching regionals and states in his first two years were good, it only makes sense Wade’s goals have elevated.

“Getting 100 wins this year is one of my goals, individually,’ Wade said. “I also want to get as high on the podium as I can. I think I can make some noise at states.’

East has had its share of state-level wrestlers, but none have entered high school with the hype Wade came with. That, as well as a family full of successful wrestlers, could cause excess pressure. But Wade has shaken it off with his smooth demeanor and skillful ability.

“He came out with a lot of solid youth and middle school experience,’ Horvath said. “There were a lot of pre-set expectations. He was our first blue-chip prospect and we were very happy to finally have him. He’s helped add some juice to the program.’

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