P.O. Wrestler of the Year: Drew Peck
When Drew Peck was younger, his father Dave would take him and his older brother Dawson out of school, drive up to Giant Center and watch the PIAA Wrestling Championships.
Then Drew got to watch as Dawson earned silver and bronze medals at the PIAA Tournament.
"I grew up watching it," Drew Peck said. "I could see how good those wrestlers were and I wanted to get up there myself. So getting fourth place this year and finally getting to stand on the podium was really big."
Peck, a junior at Chambersburg, not only got that fourth-place Class AAA medal, but he is also the Public Opinion Wrestler of the Year, edging out Shippensburg junior Chandler Olson for the award.
"The sky is the limit for Drew," Trojan coach Matt Mentzer said. "All he has to do is develop that physicality a little more to catapult himself into the top 10 or top five in the country."
Because of a rugged schedule, Peck gets a chance to wrestle against many of the nation's best each year. He placed fifth in the Beast of the East Tournament and fifth in the Escape The Rock Tournament, suffering four of his seven defeats in those two events. But he was banging heads with the best in the state and some of the best in the country.
Mentzer said, "He was in a real tough bracket at the Beast - the state tournament was almost like a re-do."
But Peck welcomes those high-level matches, even in the offseason.
"Being in those tournaments is huge," Peck said. "You're wrestling state-caliber and national-caliber guys, and if you don't have that chance, the best you're going to see is district-level and maybe a few state-level guys."
Peck said that pays off down the road, such as in his state consolation round 3-2 win over Boyertown's Gregg Harvey.
"The first two times he beat me, he rode me out, so he was probably thinking that if he got an escape, he could do it again," Peck said. "But this time I was motivated to get out, and when I did that, it made a big difference."
Peck went 38-7 this year, and now has a 103-28 career record with one season to go. He had 15 pins, two technical falls and three major decisions.
Mentzer said, "Drew was very good on his feet, and he's an absolute monster on top. He's one of the few kids I've worked with in the room that I don't like to get under."
"I definitely have to work on getting off bottom," Peck said. "Three guys rode me out at states this year and that shouldn't happen - it needs to be an automatic point. And I need to have some good secondary shots. When I wrestle these guys who know my usual moves, I need something else to try that'll work."
Peck said his 3-0 loss to North Allegheny's Jake Woodley in the PIAA semifinals was his toughest loss because of its importance, but he really wanted to beat Kyle Gentile of Pennridge in the bout for third place. Instead, he was edged 3-2.
"I've wrestled (Gentile) every year and really wanted to beat him this time," he said. "He beat me 2-1 as a freshman, then a couple of times in freestyle, and he beat me last year in the Escape The Rock final when I made a mistake, and again at states. That was a motivation for me, to get a match with him at states."
Peck and his teammates, and many area wrestlers, now move into the string of freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments this spring. He will compete in the Junior Nationals in Virginia Beach in early April, and many continue until the season winds down after the USA Wrestling finals in Fargo, N.D. in the summer.
After a break, Peck expects to be back at it full-time in September getting ready for his senior year. And he knows the prize he wants.
"Obviously, I want that state title," he said. "I was happy with fourth this year, but I'm aiming higher for next year."
Drew Peck, Chambersburg
Parents: Dave and Teri Peck
Interests: Two of his favorite things to do are eating and sleeping.
Surprising fact: Before each bout, he will wipe off the bottom of his shoes, touch his toes and stretch his arms, and will be last wrestler to step on the line in the center of the mat.
Favorite athlete: Antonio Brown
Favorite team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Record: 38-7; 103-28 career
Accomplishments: Peck placed fourth in the PIAA Class AAA Tournament and was a District 3 runner-up ... He won the Section I tournament, the Trojans Wars event and the Carlisle tournament ... In the two big regular-season tournaments, Peck was fifth at the Beast of the East and at Escape The Rock.