He did when he racked up big win totals as a sophomore but didn't make it out of the District 5 tournament.
|PHOTO COURTESY OF TAMI KNOPSNYDER|
James "Wolf" Otten went 37-11 as a senior.
This year, when his record wasn't as good - mostly because he wrestled some of the area's best competition - he was doubted again.
Otten, who set virtually every wrestling record that Shade has, will undoubtedly have critics again, as he announced Tuesday that he plans to wrestle at Edinboro University.
It's too big of a step up in competition for him, many will say.
Not that Otten can argue too much. He initially thought the same thing.
“It seemed a little big for me at first,” Otten said of the competition at Edinboro. “It was like, ‘Wow there are so many good kids. How can I compete with them?’ ”
But Otten is convinced that the quality in the Edinboro wrestling room - the Scots have placed in the top 10 at the NCAA tournament three of the past seven years - can help elevate him.
And after hearing for four years that he wasn't facing good enough competition, who can blame him?
He went 119-27 and recorded a Somerset County-record 78 career falls during his career despite not having any standout teammates to practice with at Shade. Instead, he worked out with the coaches and often would leave his school practice early in time to get to a Young Guns practice.
"I wrestled the coaches a lot," he said. "They would beat me up. It wasn’t like everyone in the room wasn’t as good as me, but going to Young Guns definitely helped. I had guys my age around my weight that were great workout partners."
He'll have plenty of those at Edinboro.
Familiar path: I have to admit, I've got a bit of a soft spot for Otten. His path is somewhat similar to mine. He was Shade's first District 5 champion (I was Berlin's). Both of us wrestled for teams that often faced weaker competition. We each led Somerset County in pins as seniors. Neither of us brought home a state medal. We each wanted to test ourselves by wrestling for a Division I school and we each ended up heading to an in-state school in the Eastern Wrestling League (I went to Pitt).
So, good for you, Wolf. Go for your dream. Mine didn't turn out quite as well as I'd hoped, but I can't complain too much about being a starter on a top-20 team, a two-year letterwinner and an 18-match winner as a senior.
Here's hoping yours goes even better.
Weighty issue: Otten said that the Edinboro coaching staff told him that they expect him to be at 157 or 165 pounds, but that he's leaning toward 165. He said he currently weighs about 170.
Name game: Local wrestling fans likely will recognize some other names on the Scots' roster. Tyrone grad A.J. Schopp and Mitchell Port, a Bellefonte grad, each had a great season as a redshirt freshman, finishing a win short of the All-American round.