JERSEY SHORE When the Warrior Run Defenders opened the 2013 Jersey Shore Duals with a 60-9 win over Phoenixville in the Dawg Pound, it was much more than just another win for the storied Defender mat program.
For the past 42 years, the name of Wayne Smythe has been synonymous with Warrior Run wrestling. During those years, Smythe and his wrestlers have recorded many wins, but none bigger than the win over the Phantoms. For the Hall of Fame coach, it was the 500th victory of his outstanding coaching career.
"Right now it is just a number," said Smythe. "Ben Franklin said that wisdom is a reflection and at some point in time, I will have time to reflect on it. Right now, I just look at it as an achievement by all the people at Warrior Run."
As a former athlete and coach at Milton and now a PIAA official, Bob Greenly took a little time to reflect on what knowing Smythe meant to him during his career as a Black Panther athlete, coach and now a PIAA official.
"He has integrity, he is one of the most intense coaches I have been around and although he gives credit to everybody else, the credit for the success of his program really goes to him," said Greenly. "He has surrounded himself with good people, he is a good Christian man, but his ability to maintain intensity through the years might be his biggest asset."
Facing Smythe as an athlete, Greenly was well aware of the intensity he instilled in his wrestlers.
"Looking at him in the corner when I was wrestling one of his athletes, you could just see the intensity in him," said Greenly. "After coaching 42 years, he is still intense. I know I couldn't keep up that type of intensity for that long."
Wrestling has changed with the overall approach and technique and Smythe has had to make some adjustments in his approach to keep up.
"He has changed his styles somewhat in that you can't go against Warrior Run, thinking this is what they are going to do," said Greenly. "He has upped the ante as far as different technique is concerned and what else can you say other than that is he is just a quality person and a good guy for the sport of wrestling."
Spanning his 40 years at the helm of the Defender program, Smythe was fortunate to have had a lot of outstanding athletes as well as dedicated assistant coaches to work with.
Included in the list coached by Smythe are five wrestlers who won a cumulative total of eight PIAA championships. Those who Smythe guided to an individual state title are Al Mabus (1977), Mike Litzelman (1978), Chris Cooper (1981), Jason Betz (1992, 1993 and 1994) and Jason Guffey (2005, 2006).
"We have had great kids and that is who the tribute for something like this belongs to," Smythe said. "They worked hard, they produced and they have been very receptive to coaching. We were fortunate to have had good assistants throughout the years and a big part of this success is due to their contributions to the program. And we can't forget our fans because when we go away for matches we sometimes have more fans there than the home team. The administration has also been very supportive of the program and considering all of those aspects."
During his career both as a wrestler and coach, Smythe has seen many changes in the sport, both on and off the mat.
"I think that each generation has gotten a little bit softer than the one before," said Smythe. "My generation is softer than that of my parents. Wrestling is a sport that rewards those who are willing to pay great sacrifices to what they do. We have great parents and the changes are not a reflection on them, but rather the way the times have changed."
Following the opening win over Phoenixville, the Defenders dropped a tough one-point loss to Cedar Cliff. However, as any good team usually does, the Defenders bounced back to pound Wallenpaupack 59-3.
In pool matches, Warrior Run opened with a 55-15 win over Jersey Shore, but then ran into a very good and unbeaten Cedar Cliff squad and came up a point short in a 34-33 loss.
Following the loss to the Colts, the Defenders bounced back to post three victories in a row over Wallenpaupack (59-3), Jersey Shore (55-15) and Western Wayne (44-22).
"This was a good day for us," said Smythe about his team's 4-1 performance. "Cedar Cliff came in here undefeated, they are a good team and I think we wrestled real well that match. We just came up a point short. We are a better team for having wrestled them and we were able to pick up what we need to work on."
Round Robin I: Jersey Shore 50, Tunkhannock 21; Cedar Cliff 50, Wallenpaupack 15; Greensburg-Salem 57, Western Wayne 18; Warrior Run 60, Phoenixville 9.
Round Robin II: Muncy 60, Clarion 17; Cedar Cliff 34, Warrior Run 33; C. D East 38, Canton 26; Wallenpaupack 58, Phoenixville 15.
Round Robin III: Muncy 48, Jersey Shore 21; Greensburg-Salem 62, Canton 10; Western Wayne 36, C. D. East 32; Tunkhannock 45, Clarion 21.
Round Robin IV: Jersey Shore 61, Clarion 15; Cedar Cliff 57, Phoenixville 17; Greensburg-Salem 62, C. D. East 15; Warrior Run 59, Wallenpaupack 3.
Round Robin 5: Muncy 51, Tunkhannock 24;
Pool Round I: Warrior Run 55, Jersey Shore 15; Cedar Cliff 45, Muncy 30; Wallenpaupack 45, Tunkhannock 28; Phoenixville 41, Clarion 27.
Pool Round II: Warrior Run 44, Western Wayne 22; Greensburg-Salem 44, Cedar Cliff 25; C. D. East 39, Wallenpaupack 32; Canton 45, Phoenix 26.
Pool Round III: Western Wayne 48, Jersey Shore 24; Greensburg-Salem 42, Muncy 20; Tunkhannock 43, C. D. East 30; Canton 41, Clarion 30.
Top Three Teams: 1. Greensburg-Salem (5-0), 2. Cedar Cliff (4-1), Muncy (3-2).