Ben Nosal heads to Hershey
As he prepares likely for one of the biggest moments in his life, Ben Nosal remembers a time when wrestling was just something to do in sixth grade. It was a sharp contrast from older brothers Shawn and Jared, both of whom were heavily involved in the sport at a young age.
“A lot of my friends were out for wrestling, so I decided to go out,” noted Nosal. “At first, I wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t the end of the world to me. But I wanted to keep working on it.
“Finally, in eighth grade, I decided to get more serious about it. I was getting close to high school and I had to keep battling with it. Once I became a freshman, it became a major sport for me.”
Now, four years later, Nosal will represent the Roughies in the 220-pound weight class at the PIAA state wrestling championships in Hershey this weekend. He gained his ticket with a fifth-place finish in the Southeastern Regionals last weekend.
Nosal is the first Roughie to make the trip to Chocolatetown since Zack Bradley and Rhaine Sziy were there in 2014. It was then that the two Catasauqua seniors provided the inspiration for the freshman Nosal.
“I saw both of them have a great season and go onto states,” recalled Nosal of the duo. “That was a goal for me from that point. I knew if I worked hard I could get there because I saw what they did.
However, it hasn’t been an easy road for Nosal this season. He enters Hershey this weekend with an overall 27-7 record, and he has been battling a torn meniscus all season. It caused him to miss some time early in the season, but it hasn’t slowed him.
“We talked about (meniscus) early on, but he (Nosal) decided to take care of it after the season,” said head coach Kyle Rusnock. “I know he needed some time off during the season, but he wasn’t going to let it (meniscus) slow him down.”
Rusnock also saw Nosal take a different turn toward the sport in eighth grade.
“I think he recommitted himself then,” said Rusnock. “There were some things that happened along the way to make him believe in himself more. He struggled, but he never quit.
“Ben had a great, great season. He has some tough matches to get there. Ben really worked through a lot.”
Nosal won’t soon forget his quarterfinal round at regionals, one that guaranteed him one of six available spots to states. He also wrestled at regionals this year for the first time in his four-year career.
He will seek to be the first Roughie to win a state crown when 112-pounder Kevin Yarko won a title in 1999. Nosal will begin his journey when he meets Noah Wiencek of Derry Area (35-5) Thursday.
“I knew if I won that one, I was going,” he said. “That is my most memorable one this season and for my career. Nothing can really top that for me. It was the best feeling that I have ever experienced.”
Nosal even could have a better feeling depending on his upcoming weekend.