Zack Witmer has already made a name for himself in Pennsylvania. Now, the three-time PJW champion from Bellefonte, who will undoubtedly rank as one of 2017’s Top Incoming Freshmen, is looking to make a bigger splash nationally.
Witmer, who will be a freshman at St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy in the fall, will make his Fargo debut this week at the U.S. Marine Corps Cadet Nationals. He’s planning to compete at 120 pounds in both Greco-Roman and freestyle.
With Robert Howard, a Cadet World Team member from New Jersey, and Ryan Sokol of Minnesota among the big names likely to be at his weight, Witmer knows it won’t be easy. But he’s also taking the right approach.
“I’m going there to win,” Witmer said in a telephone interview with PA Power Wrestling. “I go into every tournament to win. We’ll see how it happens. I’m really excited for the experience. It’s going to be a good time.”
While he’s watched Fargo matches online over the years, Witmer will be making his debut at the FargoDome.
“I’m not really sure what to expect,” he said. “I know it’s going to be different. I’m just expecting it to be … I don’t really know. A lot of people there, a lot of big names. Most great wrestlers went through there.”
The Pennsylvania team plans to break camp from Clarion on Tuesday afternoon. The Cadet freestyle competition begins on Saturday and continues through Monday while Greco runs July 19-21.
Witmer won state titles in freestyle and Greco in 2016 and was a freestyle runner-up this summer.
“I prefer freestyle, but I think Greco gives me a different feel than I would get from freestyle or folkstyle,” Witmer said. “I’m really offensive. I don’t love upper body. I can work that, but I don’t try to force that. I like a lot of leg attacks.”
Worth the weight
Witmer finished second in the middle school division of Super 32 at 112 pounds last season. That was a difficult weight cut for him, and he said he feels much more comfortable at 120. He’ll likely be at 120 for the high school season, unless he hits a growth spurt.
“I have to cut a little, but it’s not really that bad,” he said of 120.
He’ll join a St. Joseph’s program that is beginning to flourish under coach Pat Flynn in State College.
“It’s a decision we made two or three years ago,” Witmer said. “It’s great academically. Even though I’m not Catholic, I am a Christian, and the religious aspect is important to me.”
The Wolves had just six wrestlers last season, but he’ll join a roster that includes PIAA medalist Caleb Dowling, Southwest Regional champion Jacob Powers and state qualifier Ethan Kauffman.
“They’re all my best friends, too,” Witmer said of the wrestlers at St. Joseph’s.
Witmer has trained with the Bison Legend club as well as Buffalo Valley.
“It’s great. Pennsylvania’s awesome for partners,” he said. “I’m 20 minutes from Penn State, close to Lock Haven, Bucknell. There’s lots of opportunities around here.”
And there will be more than a few big opportunities for Witmer in Fargo.