New life

For a little more than two hours Wednesday night, it was the 1990s all over again. Mark Caffrey was sitting in the coaching chair in a packed McGuffey gymnasium. The crowd was fired up and the music coming out of the sound system hurt your ears.
The crowd reacted to each match against rival Trinity, right up until the final bout. There would be no victory on this night for the Highlanders, losing 36-30, but they might have won more than they realized. The program, which like Trinity, had fallen a couple notches, looks like it's on its way to making a comeback.

A packed house at McGuffey for Trinity's match.
There is still a ways to go but with Caffrey, a PIAA Hall of Fame coach making his third go-round with the Highlanders head coaching job, leading the way, the momentum is there. It's easy to remember when McGuffey was a powerhouse program. The Highlanders dominated Class AAA in the 1990s under Caffrey, making it to at least the team tournament semifinals 10 times and winning three titles.
On the other side of the mat was the new kid, Mark Powell. But that's not an accurate description. Powell is a familiar name among Trinity wrestling. He graduated from there before heading on to Purdue, then Pitt, then West Greene as an assistant coach and now Trinity to run a program that needed a fresh start.
He infused an energy into the Hillers last night that was sorely missing. Unlike Caffrey, Powell is constant motion in the chair, up, down, grabbing an assistant next to him to demonstrate a move, walking back to the on-deck wrestler to pass on some information he just thought of. He makes you exhausted just watching him and it's easy to lose track of him, but the Hillers seemed to feed off that against McGuffey.
Building a winning wrestling program is not easy. Maintaining it is even harder.
It appears that McGuffey and Trinity are headed in the right direction, with the right people leading the way.


Anonymous stinkbomb said...

You should write for a living! Doh! Ooops, sorry...seriously though, good stuff. Even better because we know if these two were out there circling the drain you'd say it. Hope they both make the sections, next project is wash hi.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 2:07:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Tuscano said...

While I did not use the term "circling the drain," I have written about each program's struggles in the past. I enjoy these stories more.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 3:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fresh start? I remember 4 years ago when Mike Marino took over a Trinity team that was on the brink of extinction! The team was 2-7 the previous year and forfeiting almost half the weights. Mike immediately filled a team and went 7-2 his first season. Since then the numbers in the program have flourished. Not trying to discredit what Powell is doing, but Marino gave the program a fresh start. Powell may take this program to the next level, but all will be told when adversity hits. When adversity hit with Mike Marino all the wrestlers rallied to his call, and wrestling fans noticed that because we talked about it... hopefully Powell has that same care for each and every wrestler like Mike Marino did. He brought respect back to the Trinity program that was in dire need of it from the previous coach that let it slip far away.

Sunday, December 16, 2012 9:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Caffrey is the man!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 4:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's your fresh start joe... this match with marino at the helm wouldn't have been as close. Here's how he would've handled the task... he would've bumped up 182 lber to 195 and 195 to 220 since trinity 220 just came out for team and was visibly out of shape and not ready for competition. Add it up, trinity pulls away. Anyone with a little wrestling common sense would have done that. As a coach you have to make the best decision for an individual too, and help the team at the same time. Marino was a class act that got no credit, especially by you since you liked to write about the programs struggles... not the fact that he saved a historic program! Give credit where credit is due!

Thursday, December 27, 2012 2:08:00 AM  

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