Bald Eagle Area wrestling coach Ron Guenot smiled from ear to ear after his team picked up a huge win over District 6-power Central Mountain earlier this season.
The grin wasn’t just all about the win, however.
Guenot was fielding questions about 138-pounder Seth Koleno.
“Being with him the last two years, he just does everything right,” Guenot said at the time. “You couldn’t ask for a more coachable kid. It’s the little things that he does, things you don’t think about like diet and being a leader. He goes down to elementary practice and works with our young elementary wrestlers. Those kids don’t come around very often.”
This “kid” is in his final year of wrestling for the Eagles and will be looking to reach his fourth straight District 6 Class 3A final on Saturday in Altoona High School’s Fieldhouse. Koleno won it as a freshman and sophomore before finishing second last season.
Early this season, Koleno, who will continue his wrestling career collegiately at Clarion, collected his 100th win in the semifinals of the illustrious King of the Mountain tournament.
“It’s so cool to get it there because you know all the good wrestlers are there,” Koleno said earlier this year. “After the match, all the top notch wrestlers came up and congratulated me because it is such a big accomplishment to get 100 wins. My first goal is to be a state champion, get a 100th win and go undefeated. Those are my three goals for this year.”
Koleno’s career record entering Saturday’s district tournament is 123-19, which ranks him sixth on the all-time BEA wins list. He passed Bellefonte head coach Mike Maney, Eagles assistant coach Ed Hockenberry and former head coach Steve Millward. Should Koleno finish off those two other goals, he could climb to as high as fourth on the wins list. Former Penn State wrestler Quentin Wright is the overall wins leader with 154.
In two years of wrestling for Millward, Koleno went 61-14 and claimed those two district titles as well as a Northwest Regional crown. He also finished seventh as a sophomore at the PIAA Championships.
In his first year of wrestling under Guenot, Koleno posted a 34-5 record. He made a third straight trip to the District 6 Class 3A finals, won his second Northwest Regional championship and finished fifth in the state.
It can be tough to wrestle under two different coaches, but Koleno credits his training throughout the Eagles’ program for his success.
“Bald Eagle has always been a basic-type wrestling,” he said. “They both are amazing coaches. The styles are a little bit the same, a little bit different. We work a lot on technique (now). With Millward, we did a lot of live (wrestling) and conditioning. We still do a lot of conditioning (now). It’s just a different environment.”
Koleno’s career has been full of decisive wins — nearly half of the senior’s victories have come with bonus points. He has amassed 39 pins, 11 technical falls and 10 major decisions. This season alone, all but two of his 28 wins have come with bonus points — 19 pins, two technical falls, two forfeits, and three majors.
Even when Koleno isn’t on the mat, he is still very competitive. Guenot recalled a time when Koleno was frustrated that he didn’t win his neighborhood’s Christmas light decorating contest. However, it’s Koleno’s personality that Guenot credits for how successful he is on and off the mat.
“One thing that’s kind of special about him is he’s always smiling,” Guenot said. “He’s one of those kids that if he’s in a picture, he’s going to smile. It just shows what kind of kid he is. He doesn’t have a cocky bone in his body. But, when he is on the mat, he turns the switch and is a different person. He is a special individual.”
District 6 Class 3A Tournament
When: Saturday 10 a.m., 6 p.m. (finals)
Where: Altoona High School’s Fieldhouse
Online: Up to date brackets, Flowrestling.com