The Kutztown Wrestling team has been stocking up on talent as of late. In past years, their line up did not feature State Champions like Evan Yenolevich or Prep National Champions like Austin Ormsbee. Yet that is the case nowadays and Coach Fisher couldn’t be happier with his team. Or could he?
Among the Fall 2010 class, there was one wrestler in particular who would have made all the difference in the world at 125 lbs. With talent far beyond a normal Division II wrestler, Wyoming Seminary graduate Kyle Johnson was expected to do extraordinary things. Despite the potential, Johnson was diagnosed with a nerve disorder called fibromyalgia, ending his chances of becoming a college champion.
Johnson came to Kutztown University with a phenomenal résume. His record coming into his freshman year was 175-19. The average wrestler rarely wrestles 100 matches, let alone wins nearly twice that. All of these wins came thanks to the superb Wyoming Seminary wrestling program.
Ranked top five in the country five years in a row, Wyoming Seminary reached as high as the second best team in the nation according to USA Wrestling. With the Dean of the school was their head coach, every kid on the team was recruited, and wrestling was basically a job.
“We were the best. Best team at the school, best athletes of the school and the hardest working,” Johnson said, “Then again, we dedicated our lives to the sport. It’s tough to eat and drink wrestling when you can’t even eat and drink to make weight.”
All of his hard work at Wyoming Seminary paid off in accolades ordinary wrestlers couldn’t imagine. His accomplishments include: three time Prep State Champion, three time National All-American, four time St. Alban Champion, four time Mount Mat Madness medalist, two time Escape the Rock Champion, Beast of the East medalist and Ironman medalist. Winning and placing in the toughest tournaments in the U.S earned Johnson the honor of being the 11th best wrestler in the country.
His favorite moment is by far when he defeated the coach’s son of top-ranked Blair Academy to All-American his freshman year.
“Nothing else even compares,” Johnson said, “It just felt great cause those were are rivals, at an elite level too.”
“When I left Wyoming Seminary, I was ready to give it up,” Johnson said, “A ton of work, even more pressure. Not a chance Division I was in my future.”
As Johnson contemplated ending his career, he came across a brochure for Kutztown University. One phone call and Johnson was welcomed with open arms.
Immediately, speculation rose whether or not Johnson was going to start his first season. That is something to be said, considering former State Champ and All-American Chris Sheetz was his competition for the spot. Something no wrestling fan wanted to be refused was this match. No thanks to the wrestling Gods above, Johnson would be unable to wrestle at full strength and discovered he had a back problem.
“We went to the doctor. It was devastating. I was literally told I could never wrestle again,” he said, “What was I to do now? It was my life.”
Johnson isn’t out of the game for good. In fact, he still teaches wrestlers the ropes in private lessons he holds in his wrestling room at home. His former prodigy, New Jersey State Champ and actor in the movie Win, Win Alex Shaffer.
“I’ll never stop wrestling,” Johnson said, “I may not compete, but coaching is all I have. It’s nice to still wrestle. It’s even better to be fat and happy. No pressure and no stress, life’s pretty good now.”
By Sierra Segear