District 1 High School Wrestling

All-Intelligencer Wrestling - Wrestler of the Year

by Drew Markol, The Intelligencer

Posted on April 8, 2017

Article originally appeared here:

Listen to the kids if you want to know what might happen.

They know, because they pay attention.

This is especially true when you go to a Pennridge wrestling match - especially for the first time.

"That's Josh; he always wins," one youngster said at a Rams home match in January. "He'll probably get a pin."

The Josh is junior Josh Stillings, Pennridge's most recent PIAA Class 3A runner-up (he finished second at 160 pounds in Hershey), and yes, he pretty much always wins.

In three seasons, Stillings has placed twice at states (he was fourth a year ago) and won a pair of Southeast Regional titles. He has three District One crowns and already owns 120 career victories. With 43 more next season, he would become the Rams' all-time leader in victories.

"Josh had a great season, and he learns a lot every year he wrestles," Pennridge coach R.P. Norley said.

"He's a student of the sport and just loves it. And with the way he was wrestling, especially later in the season, I thought he was going to go to the (state) final and have a great shot to win the whole thing."

That wasn't always the case. The winning, that is.

"When I first started wrestling, my first year, when I was 5, I didn't win a match," Stillings said with a laugh.

"And my second year, I only won one match, and after I'd lose I'd cry. But something clicked my third or fourth year and I started to get better.

"I always loved the sport, even when I was losing all the time, and that really helped me stay with it."

Stillings was not one to stick to one sport at first.

"I played football up until eighth grade," he said. "And there was soccer, baseball, swimming, a whole bunch of things. But I liked the component of wrestling, that it's all on you.

"You have to rely on yourself, and that's one of the reasons I liked wrestling the best."

He showed his best in the postseason - and it's why he's The Intelligencer's Wrestler of the Year - as he simply shredded every bracket in every tournament.

In 12 postseason matches, Stillings recorded five technical falls, four pins and went 11-1, with the only loss coming in the state final against Mifflin County junior Trent Hidlay by a 5-3 count.

"I was very happy with the way the whole season went," Stillings said. "I was one win away from my goal, but it's good to not reach all of your goals.

"I shot for the stars and only got to the moon, but that will help motivate me for next year. When I took fourth last year, that helped me realize that I wasn't that far behind anybody, and I'll push even harder next year and hopefully come out on top."

He's already started getting ready for his senior year by hitting the weight room, and he also recently spent a week at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, working with some of the best wrestlers in the country.

"I want to do whatever I can to make it to the top," Stillings said. "I really enjoyed high school wrestling, and it feels like just a couple of weeks ago when I wrestled my first match as a freshman, and I want my senior year to be a special one."

Whether or not he reaches the top step of the podium in Hershey next March, he'll continue with the sport in college.

"The list of colleges who are not calling to ask about him is shorter than the list that is," Norley said.

"He has really good grades, is a good kid and will have a lot of options. He's following his heart and playing it smart with where he wants to go to school, and he'll make the right choice."

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