Wrestling returns to Penn State Mont Alto after 35 years
By Lee Goodwin
The Record Herald
The old saying, ‘What goes around, comes around’ fits nicely in this story.
That’s because, after a 35-year absence, wrestling is back at Penn State Mont Alto. Boy, how things have changed.
Back in 1970, when wrestling was first introduced as a sport at the campus, the college did not even have a gymnasium. Hence, wrestling and basketball contests were held at the old East Junior High School, which was demolished years ago.
Several years later, logistics — and Title IX — prompted Mont Alto to drop wrestling in the mid-1970s, a difficult decision that landed squarely on then-athletic director and wrestling coach Duane Thomas.
“We needed to balance our programs. We started women’s volleyball when we stopped wrestling,” said Thomas, referring to the landmark legislation that forced colleges to increase opportunities for female students, sometimes at the expense of male sports.
“Plus, we didn’t have a gym at the time. The logistics got to be a real problem. At the time in the early 70s there were 10 Penn State campuses that had wrestling programs. At the same time we stopped wrestling all the others did too.”
Then and now
Things are much different now.
PSU-Mont Alto has a its own multi-purpose gymnasium that serves as the venue for men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball as well as intramural sports.
That doesn’t mean the sport wasn’t well-received in its time. Pennsylvania is a hotbed for wrestling, and Mont Alto had no problem filling all 10 weight classes. In fact, the Goeins brothers (Dave and Dan), who wrestled at Waynesboro High School under coach Rocco Forte in the early 1970s, wrestled at Mont Alto.
“We never had a losing season,” Thomas said. “Twice we placed in second in the (Commonwealth Campus League) tournament held at the end of each year and included all the campuses. We had some good kids, and some of them were local.”
Mont Alto finished 6-1 in 1973-74 and won the conference in 1974-75 with a 7-0 record. Dan Goeins placed third in the 1974 conference tournament. The final home match was held on Feb. 7, 1976 against Altoona.
Thomas wrestled in high school at Wellsboro, Pa. and attended Penn State University’s main campus, where he also wrestled. When he came to Mont Alto in 1959 as a physical education teacher, the campus did not have any sports teams.
“They just dropped basketball,” said Thomas, who later served as athletic director until the late 1980s. “They started basketball again in 1964.”