HERSHEY: Northern’s Paul Feite doesn’t consider himself an inspiration to others. In his mind, he is just a wrestler.
That’s true. It’s hard to argue the point after he planted Council Rock North’s Cameron Robinson in the PIAA Class 3A Wrestling Champions quarterfinal round Friday at Hershey’s Giant Center.
But Feite is more.
See, Feite was born without half his left forearm and hand. It’s made wrestling cumbersome at times in his career, but his work ethic has helped him overcome any challenges and made him one of the premier 138-pound wrestlers in the state.
That was evident in the quarterfinals against Robinson. Feite manhandled his lanky opponent from the top position and earned a fall in 3:24 to earn a spot in Saturday’s semifinal round.
“You look to Shaq Griffin at UCF and going to the NFL,” Feite said. “He is a guy with one arm, and he is tearing it up at the combine. You look at guys like Anthony Robles, for me. I would love to be something like that.
“It would be awesome [to be an inspiration like that], but I just look at myself as another wrestler. That’s how my teammates make me feel … other kids like the Nichter’s and I’m good friends with Kollin Myers … they forget about it, sometimes.
“I like it that way. But if I can inspire someone, that’s great, and I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Feite struggled a bit in middle school but found a way to adapt. He did the same in high school, thanks to coaches like Ryan Stephenson, Zach Ross, workout partner Jonathan Ross, and the Polar Bears staff that now includes TC Warner and head coach Josh Murray.
“They all give me stuff to work on,” Feite said. “They look here, they look there, and it’s, ‘Hey, you have one arm and need to adjust this way, or you can’t hit that move. You have to do it this way.’ It’s little things like that. They really make a difference.”
The information is paying off.
Feite and Robinson didn’t hold back in the first period. Both wrestlers had chances to score out of scrambles but couldn’t put points on the board.
Robinson chose down to start the second period. Feite was a monster on top and despite getting hit with a stall call at 1:22, he slipped in a power half and stuck his opponent in 3:24.
“He definitely goes out there with a freestyle type of stance when he goes down,” Feite said. “It really changed what I could do.
“Once I got both legs in, he just felt so weak compared to my weight, and I think my weight was too much for him. Once I broke him down, I got a power half in and ran him over, and that was it. It was definitely hard to change the first minute of the match.
Continued Feite, “Like two weeks ago at Districts, getting that fall and then getting one here in the quarterfinals is great. But a win is a win, whether it’s by fall or one point. For me, it makes me happy.”
After qualifying for states as a sophomore, Feite failed to make it to Giant Center a year ago. That led to more work in the offseason through Freestyle and Greco wrestling to become a more well-rounded competitor.
It’s paid off. Feite captured the District 3 crown and entered states with a No. 7 ranking according to PA Power Wrestling. And now, he has a chance to improve on that in the semifinal round.
Across the mat will be Bald Eagle Area’s Seth Koleno, who will enter the match 36-0 with a lofty No. 2 state ranking.
“I wrestle Koleno, and he is, definitely, well respected,” Feite said. “He does great everywhere he goes, at 132, wherever. He’s tough to beat. He is undefeated this year, so I got to give it everything I’ve got.
“I hope to script it even better tomorrow after the semifinals. I’ve wanted to wrestle [Ryan] Anderson all year … just to get that opportunity.
“The opportunity to be in the semifinals is great. I’m so thankful. It’s not just me out there. Wrestling with the Lord out there, it’s a great feeling to be where I am, right now.