Stauffer concludes career
On the night before he left for the state tournament in Hershey, Catasauqua's Satchel Stauffer recalled when his wrestling career was nearly an afterthought.
When he was eight, Stauffer went out to the mat for his inaugural match. Four seconds later, it was over.
"I remember my mom being there with the camera and it seemed like the whistle rang and then the ref's hand hit the mat," said Stauffer. "The match was over before my mom had a chance to take a picture. At that point, I wanted to quit.
"It was a little rough for a while, but I decided to stay with it."
Fortunately for Stauffer, he did.
In what literally has been a storybook year, the 220-pounder began his quest for a medal at states last weekend when he tangled with junior Zach Stafford of Cambridge Springs, a junior who finished second in the northwestern regional and has a 32-3 record. Stauffer, who finished third in the Southeastern Regional the previous week, began the tournament with a 31-9 slate.
Unfortunately for Stauffer, he would get pinned by Stafford in 2:39. He would later lose to Ty Smith of Meyersdale 8-3. But it doesn't diminish what Stauffer accomplished this wrestling season.
"I'm just happy to get to states," said Stauffer before states. "It has been something that I have been working toward. If someone told me in freshman year that I would be here, I would have laughed in their face."
Stauffer struggled during his freshman and sophomore years as he quickly became acclimated to the high school level.
Former head coach Mike Conner once referred to Stauffer as "taking his lumps during his freshman year, but he is a kid who works very hard and is always anxious to get out there."
Current first-year head coach Kyle Rusnock also understands Stauffer's grit and determination.
"Satchel has really come a long way," said Rusnock. "He has worked very hard to get where he is. He came into his own last year and we looked for him in a leadership role this year. He has really had a great year."
Stauffer credits his turnaround to assistant coach Joe Stofko, who has served as a mentor through the years.
"I owe my success to him (Stofko)," said Stauffer. "He pushed and worked me along the way. He keeps me motivated and focused."
Stauffer gained motivation from losing his final two matches at regionals last year as a springboard for this year.
"I remember being there after I lost the two matches and saying to myself that I can get out of regionals next year," he said. "From there, I made a promise to get out of regionals this year and get to states.
"I got some further motivation when I beat my first opponent at regionals this year. I heard his coach say to him about losing to a kid like me. That helped get me going for the rest of the way."
He also doesn't mind the likelihood of facing a new opponent at the state level.
"I can watch some film and get some info from coach Rusnock," he said. "But I like being in the underdog role. I just have to go out there and do what I do best."
Stauffer, who also has been a mainstay lineman in the football program, plans to attend Norwich University, a military college in Vermont, next fall to play football. He likes the disciplinary background and also having a long drive away from home.
For Stauffer, it was all about taking it in at Hershey. It was, perhaps, a perfect storybook ending.
"I want to make the most of everything there," said Stauffer about his trip to Chocolate Town. "This is the best way to end my career. Every wrestler wants to end it here. I plan to lay it all out on the mat."
For Stauffer, he wouldn't have it any other way.