Morrow, Knights grapple pandemic with success

The+2020-21+North+Penn+Knight+wrestling+team+after+capturing+the+conference+title+in+February.+

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The 2020-21 North Penn Knight wrestling team after capturing the conference title in February.

TOWAMENCIN – Just a few months ago, like the rest of his team, North Penn junior William Morrow was worried about whether or not the 2020-21 wrestling season would even occur… Fast forward a couple months and this upcoming weekend he has a chance to win it all when he travels to Hershey to compete at States.

“Back in September I thought there was no way that we were going to be able to have a season, but look here we are… I am very thankful that we were able to still hold a season under all the protocols, I worked so hard this offseason and all I wanted was a chance to go out there and compete,” Morrow said.

Last weekend Morrow competed in Pennsylvania’s super regional tournament and placed 4th, which was good enough to earn him a spot in this weekend’s culminating meet in Hershey. However, Morrow is never completely satisfied with his performances and he is always looking for ways to enhance his skills.

I am not content with how I did and I am always looking for ways to improve. I lost some pretty close matches and made some rough mental mistakes so far this year that ended up costing me but I can only afford to look at the bright side and learn from it”

— Will Morrow, NPHS junior

“I am not content with how I did and I am always looking for ways to improve. I lost some pretty close matches and made some rough mental mistakes so far this year that ended up costing me but I can only afford to look at the bright side and learn from it,” Morrow said.

No wrestler has taken home a state championship in Hershey since Zac Fryling did so back in 2003. Nonetheless, this upcoming weekend Morrow looks to end North Penn’s 18 year drought and he believes that when you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

“This is my second year returning to Hershey and it is very exciting. It is a goal that I have been working for since my freshman year and the fact that I am already placing is very awesome. If I was able to take home a first place finish I would be incredibly proud of myself. I worked so hard and am still working very hard to be the best I can be and this weekend will without a doubt not be easy, however my coaches believe in me, my family believes in me, and most importantly, I believe in me,” Morrow said.

North Penn qualified a wrestler as far as the state tournament for the 11th year in a row this past season, something that head coach Robert Shettsline is extremely proud of.

“It says a lot about our program. Wrestling takes a long time to get good at, and we have a good youth program that develops kids throughout the years. We are doing the right things. We were not able to have our big JV tournament this year due to COVID which really helps up but we are thankful that we are able to have the 9th graders. That gives us a full 4 years to develop them and help them with their goals. That is really one of our main goals as coaches: to push them and help them achieve their goals and even beyond,” Shettsline said.

The relationship Shettsline has with his players is not just a one way street either, for Senior Co-Captains Ben Sanfeliece and Nophir Farrell, the feeling is most definitely mutual.

Shetts’ value to the team is priceless. He has been the coach for such a long time now and the things that he has taught us from his many years of experience is truly a gift. I am incredibly honored to have had him as my wrestling coach during my high school career,”

— Ben Sanfelice

“Shetts’ value to the team is priceless. He has been the coach for such a long time now and the things that he has taught us from his many years of experience is truly a gift. I am incredibly honored to have had him as my wrestling coach during my high school career,” Sanfelice said.

“Coach Shetts was a great coaching during my time on the team. He always helped and looked out for every single guy on the squad. He saw the potential in all of us and he never gave up on you. For me personally he created a great environment to lighten up the hard work of practice with his sense of humor,” Harrell said.

While there were definitely individual standouts on the squad this year, the team as a whole did extremely well in their own right; in spite of all the rules and regulations that were placed on them due to COVID-19.

“It was nice that we were still able to start in mid-September like we usually do and get about a month of conditioning in while following protocols. It is always tough to see how your team is going to work out but every year you always have high hopes. Our boys really worked hard this year and we wrestled a lot of tough teams. Quakertown, Council Rock, and Pennsbury are all really solid teams and are tops in the regions. We wrestled them very well and we did not shy away from any competition all season long,” Shetts added.

Covid was not the only thing restraining the Knights however. Another thing haunting the team weekly was their lack of lightweights on the roster.

“We were giving away 12 points every match due to not having any light-weights and any wrestlers in the first 2 weight classes. It is pretty tough to come back and win a match when you are down 12-0 before the match even starts,” Shetts said.

Death, taxes, and Shetts getting wins. The coach was able to rack up his 250th win against CB East this season but despite the accomplishment, Shettsline is quick to recognize his assistants for their help along the way.

“Sometimes they might see something that I do not see and that is really helpful for me. After each meet we usually talk things over, “what did we see in the mats that were lacking”, “what do we need to improve upon”, and then at our next practice we work on that. They are a big part of the team and they each have different views and attitudes which helps the kids develop,” Shettsline said.

Kids developing is going to be a big part of the wrestling programs future. One kid in particular that has stood out so far in terms of the “potential” category, is freshman Michael Cliver.

Michael got a 6 at regionals and as I tell every kid the next year you either do that or do better. If he puts in a lot of work this summer, and I truly believe that he will, next season he will without a doubt be a state qualifier”

— Robert Shettsline - NPHS Wrestling Coach

“Michael got a 6 at regionals and as I tell every kid the next year you either do that or do better. If he puts in a lot of work this summer, and I truly believe that he will, next season he will without a doubt be a state qualifier,” Shettsline said.

The coaches are not the only ones who have seen the potential in Michael however. His teammates, as well, sees just how good Cliver can become.

“I was able to wrestle Michael in my youth and got to watch him all the way through middle school as well. He has a great work ethic and he can definitely accomplish some great things as long as he keeps at it. He still has a lot of work to put in and I hope I can help him take his skills to the next level next season. He is a really good kid and I am very happy with what he has accomplished this year but like I said, there is still a lot more I know he is capable of. We have only seen a glimpse of his potential,” Morrow said.

There is plenty of potential and positivity surrounding next years wrestling team but before we can jump ahead to next year already, Morrow will compete this weekend in Hershey when he looks to capture a State Championship.