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Tofurky

Why Pennsylvania?

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This thread pops up every now and again when it comes to discussion regarding which states tend to produce the most when it comes NCAAs time. What is it about the Pennsylvania products that collegiate coaches desire? Why do their wrestlers find themselves most often at the top of the pile when it comes to, until recently, individual contenders?

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I don't think its a matter of coaches having a general preference for Pennsylvania products over other states -- that is, I don't think any coaches claim that a given wrestler is "better" just because he hails from PA, as your question implies.

 

Rather, its just the fact that Pennsylvania high school wrestling is consistently the deepest in the country, and consistently produces the highest number of wresters who are sufficiently accomplished to be competitive at the Div. I level.  That fact is demonstrable by the comparatively high level of success of Pennsylvania wrestlers in national and regional competitions, which in turn is consistently reflected in the more credible high school ranking services. 

 

Yes, it is often said that PA, as a whole, is more proficient at mat wrestling when compared to other states, which translates well to folkstyle.  But that isn't really the issue.  Coaches aren't going to just assume that a kid is a good mat wrestler just because he's from PA, and recruit him for that reason.  No, the fact that so many come from PA is simply a reflection of the fact that a lot of the nation's most highly accomplished kids are from PA.  Coaches will seek out most accomplished kids wherever they happen to hail from.

 

One recruiting advantage that PA wrestlers do have, though, is that coaches are more willing to take chances on them, even in the absence of a broad national resume, if they succeed in their state tournament.  Every year or two, a kid comes out of nowhere to win PA's AAA tournament, despite the lack of a national resume.  That kid has a good shot at a Div. I scholarship based on that accomplishment alone, simply because of the respect that coaches have for that tournament.  The same can't be said for a kid that comes out of nowhere to win, say, a Maryland or North Carolina title.  The reality is that kids from lesser states need to do more to get noticed than do kids from PA and other top wrestlng states.

 

I'm not sure what you mean in the last part of your post about why PA has the most individual contenders, "until recently."  I think if you look at the numbers, you'll see that the success rate is pretty consistent.  But as for why -- I think, once again, it is simply a function of the fact that PA produces the greatest number of top high schoolers, so it stands to reason that it would produce the greatest number of NCAA placers.

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I would expect California and Texas and perhaps even Florida (least likely) to someday surpass PA purely on the basis of population and growth of wrestling programs in those states. PAs only potential growth area is Urban Philadelphia -decent wrestling programs have penetrated almost every other region in the state and have now existed for generations. Helps to have rural areas that tend to maintain higher ratios of participating students. I'm somewhat concerned that some programs in the eastern part of the state are slipping (Lehigh Valley) but perhaps it only seems that way due to the rise of the western programs (and especially western clubs). The rise of clubs outside of schools seems to be raising the bar, and especially in Western PA. Example -

http://triblive.com/mobile/7289710-96/guns-regional-franklin

Edited by swoopdown

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I'm not from PA.  But my theory always has been that the reason PA wrestling is good, is kind of why Russia is good.  If you go to a lot of clubs in PA (again this is what I've been told), that often times the coaches at clubs for smaller kids, 5-11, have former college wrestlers/coaches running them.  There are more D1 wrestling colleges in PA than any other state.  I think there's what, 10? 11?  You figure that each carries a roster of 30-35.  So take away half of that who don't do anything wrestling related once they leave college, and you get a crop of about 15 or so potential coaches.  Add in smaller PA schools, and you wind up with a crop of 250 or so guys who want to continue to help wrestling in some capacity.  Obviously they're not all All Americans, but wrestling in college they've learned solid technique and know how to effectively train somebody to wrestle. 

 

So in PA, unlike most states, kids who start at an early age get great technical training right away by somebody who has that college experience or beyond.  Not just that, but you have a lot of options to choose from, and you can take your kid to one place 2x a week and then to another 2x a week and get that same consistent level of coaching.  Coaching at a high level begins earlier than in most other states.  PA also has a great organizational system at the state level. 

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At one point, my section in the WPIAL had a D1 coach on each staff. Some staffs had multiple D1 coaches.

 

I've seen NCAA AAs routinely work as a pee wee coaches, and the guys who work with them typically wrestled at a high level, as well.

 

Iron sharpens iron, as they say. It's just in the culture in PA. 

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Ohio and New Jersey are also strong, but don't have as many college programs.  North Carolina has many D1 programs, but the wrestling isn't strong.

the college teams in nc aren't as strong as pa teams historically.  nj and ohio fall shy of pa in results.

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Why talent hotbeds routinely produce highly disproportionate success is an often-studied, complex topic without clear answers. South Korean women LPGA golfers, Jamaican sprinters, soccer players from Brazilian slums, Chinese divers... PA wrestlers fall into the same category.

 

There's a lot of research done on these talent hotbeds but it's difficult to isolate root cause from empirical observations. Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, though fairly incomplete as a research piece, is famous for bringing the topic to the media forefront. There are lots of other great studies on the topic that make for really interesting reading (a few recommendations: Bounce, The Talent Code, Top Dog, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success).

 

Of course, coaching talent and participation numbers are factors, but psychology as a factor fueling talent hotbeds cannot be understated. Psychology plays a big role in surprisingly simple ways. I know this is going to sound stupid, but I believe PA is a standout in part because of their kids' mindset. For example, a lot of research suggests just believing you're entitled to more success than your opponent gives you a meaningful performance edge (you try harder, you become mentally tougher, you become less nervous and anxious, etc.). Largely due to PA's success historically, I've noticed PA kids from an early age are conditioned to think they are better prepared and coached because they're from the toughest state.

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PA doesn't outperform in wrestling on the world stage. not even close. they're barely an outlier in the US. per capita they are on par with Iowa. wrestling is still not one of the top 3 sports in PA. same with any state or major city in America. 

 

small population segments can dominate or outpreform globally because they specialize. a greater percentage of athletes focus on the sport and a greater amount resources get committed to the sport. only because of the USA's vast size and wealth does it achieve so much success across so many different sports. 

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I don't think its a matter of coaches having a general preference for Pennsylvania products over other states -- that is, I don't think any coaches claim that a given wrestler is "better" just because he hails from PA, as your question implies.

 

Rather, its just the fact that Pennsylvania high school wrestling is consistently the deepest in the country, and consistently produces the highest number of wresters who are sufficiently accomplished to be competitive at the Div. I level.  That fact is demonstrable by the comparatively high level of success of Pennsylvania wrestlers in national and regional competitions, which in turn is consistently reflected in the more credible high school ranking services. 

 

Yes, it is often said that PA, as a whole, is more proficient at mat wrestling when compared to other states, which translates well to folkstyle.  But that isn't really the issue.  Coaches aren't going to just assume that a kid is a good mat wrestler just because he's from PA, and recruit him for that reason.  No, the fact that so many come from PA is simply a reflection of the fact that a lot of the nation's most highly accomplished kids are from PA.  Coaches will seek out most accomplished kids wherever they happen to hail from.

 

One recruiting advantage that PA wrestlers do have, though, is that coaches are more willing to take chances on them, even in the absence of a broad national resume, if they succeed in their state tournament.  Every year or two, a kid comes out of nowhere to win PA's AAA tournament, despite the lack of a national resume.  That kid has a good shot at a Div. I scholarship based on that accomplishment alone, simply because of the respect that coaches have for that tournament.  The same can't be said for a kid that comes out of nowhere to win, say, a Maryland or North Carolina title.  The reality is that kids from lesser states need to do more to get noticed than do kids from PA and other top wrestlng states.

 

I'm not sure what you mean in the last part of your post about why PA has the most individual contenders, "until recently."  I think if you look at the numbers, you'll see that the success rate is pretty consistent.  But as for why -- I think, once again, it is simply a function of the fact that PA produces the greatest number of top high schoolers, so it stands to reason that it would produce the greatest number of NCAA placers.

 

I am implying that coaches do feel a kid is better because he comes from the Marianas Trench-deep talent pool that is Pennsylvania. You said so yourself that "a kid who comes out of nowhere to win PA's AAA tournament" has an advantage of being recruited against a kid in a similar situation from "Maryland or North Carolina", though your first statement says otherwise.

 

To your final paragraph, what I meant was the state of PA had and continues to have immense individual success until Cael landed in Happy Valley. Given all of that consistent individual success, one might think that Penn State would have challenged the Iowas and Oklahoma States for team titles almost every year, instead of a 50-plus-year drought in that area.

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Who said they outperformed at the world level? The question was specifically about HS wrestling. Talent hotbeds don't need to be globally impactful to be talent hotbeds....

You did when you brought up all sorts of non HS wrestling examples: "South Korean women LPGA golfers, Jamaican sprinters, soccer players from Brazilian slums, Chinese divers... PA wrestlers fall into the same category."

 

PA wrestling does not fall into the same category.

 

but to the point of HS wrestling, yes for sure, North East and Western PA are very much wrestling hotbeds. right up there with North East Ohio, IA and Chicago. The NYC suburbs are not far behind. 

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I would expect California and Texas and perhaps even Florida (least likely) to someday surpass PA purely on the basis of population and growth of wrestling programs in those states. PAs only potential growth area is Urban Philadelphia -decent wrestling programs have penetrated almost every other region in the state and have now existed for generations. Helps to have rural areas that tend to maintain higher ratios of participating students. I'm somewhat concerned that some programs in the eastern part of the state are slipping (Lehigh Valley) but perhaps it only seems that way due to the rise of the western programs (and especially western clubs). The rise of clubs outside of schools seems to be raising the bar, and especially in Western PA. Example -

http://triblive.com/mobile/7289710-96/guns-regional-franklin

Not buying it--New York is smack dab abutting PA and they don't have near the future successes ( though they have some great wrestlers for sure). NY has 19 M tp PA's 13 M.

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You did when you brought up all sorts of non HS wrestling examples: "South Korean women LPGA golfers, Jamaican sprinters, soccer players from Brazilian slums, Chinese divers... PA wrestlers fall into the same category."

 

PA wrestling does not fall into the same category.

 

When did I ever say anything about PA dominating the world? You are pretty dense at times. Read into it what you want, but what I actually listed were examples of talent hotbeds.

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We'll all agree that PA is no Dagestan or Ossetia,

 

Unless we're talking about American Folk, right?

 

My original question was about American Folk only, as I recognize that American international talent is spread far and wide.

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When did I ever say anything about PA dominating the world? You are pretty dense at times. Read into it what you want, but what I actually listed were examples of talent hotbeds.

chill brah, we were talking about HS wrestling and you brought up other sports where a small population excels on a global stage. i don't see those as very good analogous examples. maybe bring up other HS sporting hotbeds within the US, like Baltimore and Long Island lacrosse. 

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chill brah, we were talking about HS wrestling and you brought up other sports where a small population excels on a global stage. i don't see those as very good analogous examples. maybe bring up other HS sporting hotbeds within the US, like Baltimore and Long Island lacrosse. 

 

I brought up those examples because they were referenced in the books I recommended. The fact that the psychological benefits I alluded to manifest themselves at the world level is actually supportive of my point that those same factors are likely present in PA at the national HS level... which makes the examples quite good, actually... but instead of recognizing that, you had to be an a-hole when you know full well the topic is about folkstyle HS wrestling, something the original post states very clearly.

 

Anyway, I don't follow HS athletic talent hotbeds other than wrestling, so I couldn't list any examples.

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I brought up those examples because they were referenced in the books I recommended. The fact that the psychological benefits I alluded to manifest themselves at the world level is actually supportive of my point that those same factors are likely present in PA at the national HS level... which makes the examples quite good, actually... but instead of recognizing that, you had to be an a-hole when you know full well the topic is about folkstyle HS wrestling, something the original post states very clearly.

 

Anyway, I don't follow HS athletic talent hotbeds other than wrestling, so I couldn't list any examples.

oh dont be so sensitive i wasn't being an a-hole to you. 

 

PA wrestling is a high school hot bed for sure but it doesn't reach the level of the examples you gave. no big deal, don't get bent out of shape about it. 

 

CA water polo and Michigan and Minnesota ice hockey would probably be other good examples for future reference. 

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I wonder how much of an impact multi-generational wrestling families has. There are a lot of areas in the country where a large percentage of the kids are first or only second generation wrestlers. In some of the areas mentioned it seems that there are quite a few 3rd and 4th generation wrestling families.  

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