MILTON - Jamie Yonkin's eyes lit up when asked about J.J. Schriner. The veteran head coach of the Montoursville wrestling team speaks glowingly when he talks about his 195-pound senior.
Schriner has become exactly the kind of wrestler coaches love on their team: A mix of effort and energy with a little bit of talent. In Schriner's case, it has led to a 17-win season which is a big reason Montoursville will compete in Hershey at the Giant Center for the first time in the PIAA Team Championships beginning this afternoon.
"He brings a bunch of excitement. He brings a bunch of attitude, and not in a negative way. It's just a bunch of positive attitude and a bunch of positive energy," Yonkin said after Montoursville finished second at the District 4 Class AA Duals tournament on Saturday. "Everything he does is 100 percent. You know every time he steps on the mat he's going to give you everything he's got."
The hustle and effort is Schriner's calling card. The truth is he doesn't have the talent of leaders of the team like Keith Batkowski, Garrett Hoffman, Lucas Shaheen, etc.
But what he lacks in talent, is more than made up for with strength, hustle, energy and a never-ending gas tank. If you can't enjoy watching J.J. Schriner wrestle, then you probably can't enjoy watching anybody wrestle.
He embodies what the sport is about. He embodies the results of a person willing to put their all into a sport which requires so much physical and mental fortitude just to step on the line.
At Hershey's Giant Center
Jersey Shore (4-1) vs. Latrobe (7-2), 6 p.m.
Central Mountain (6-1) vs. Parkland (11-2), 6 p.m.
Montoursville (4-2) vs. Chestnut Ridge (5-1) 4 p.m.
All quarterfinal and semifinal matches, plus first two consolation rounds on Friday
Championship, rounds 3-5 of consolations on Saturday
It's why Yonkin glows about Schriner. The first-year starter is making the most of his opportunity. And in turn, it's helped the Warriors reach a goal which has been atop Yonkin's list since the day he took over the Warriors' program. And now Schriner and his teammates will get the chance to wrestle in Hershey as a team when the take on District 5 champion Chestnut Ridge at 4 today.
"We didn't know what we'd get out of him. We're absolutely surprised," Yonkin said. "He's kind of come into his own and figured it out as he went along."
Schriner enters the state tournament with a 17-14 record, but to understand his impact, understand 11 of those 14 losses are by decision. He's been pinned just twice this year by two wrestlers who are a combined 33-5, one of which is a returning Class AAA state qualifier.
On the flip side, eight of his 17 wins have come by fall, including a one against Hughesville on Saturday which propelled Montoursville into the District 4 Duals final. Schriner has been the perfect mix of getting bonus points, and not giving up bonus points, a trait that will be very important all weekend in Hershey.
He's lost by two points or less to wrestlers like Montgomery's Tyler Betz, Benton state qualifier Logan Womelsdorf, and Danville's Gunnar Feldmann.
Schriner almost wasn't available for Saturday's district duals tournament. A member of the national guard, Schriner was scheduled to have drill this past weekend. Yonkin was able to talk to Schriner's superiors about the conflict and they happily excused him from drill to compete.
"That Hughesville match, it was huge for him getting that fall. If we don't have him, it kills us," Yonkin said. "He continues to progress and progress. And for the first year starting for us, he's done a heck of a job.
"J.J.'s a great kid. I love having him around."