After putting on a second-place performance at the PIAA wrestling state championships last season, Pennridge's Josh Stillings is looking to top his performance this time around.
The 182-pound senior is ranked first in District One, posting only one loss in 20 matches. Stillings' work last year earned him a spot in the AAA state finals where he fell to Trent Hidlay of Mifflin County, 5-3. Hidlay is now in the weight class below Stillings, so the prospect of being a state champion is not too far away.
"He was in the finals last year as a junior, the potential is definitely there," Stillings' coach, R.P. Norley said. "It's his to lose. He has to go out there, work hard and not take anything for granted."
Stillings has been wrestling since he was five years old, and it certainly shows on the mat according to Norley, who has been coaching him for eight years. Stillings has tried almost every other sport out there, but wrestling was the only one that stuck.
"[Wrestling] isn't a team sport," Stillings said. "When I was little, I used to play hockey, and if someone on my team scored, I would get mad because I wasn't the one that scored."
He certainly holds his own in wrestling. He spent his summer at the University of Pennsylvania's regional training center where he trained with Olympic champion Brendan Slay. His training focused on technique and conditioning, where he greatly improved.
According to Norley, Stillings spends five to six days per week on the mat all year round, much more time than most wrestlers put in. This is why he is a team captain and a role model for his teammates in and outside of athletics.
"Josh makes good decisions," Norley said. "He's very mature for his age. He has his life mapped out and he knows what he wants to do. He has the big picture in mind all the time."
He's had this attitude since he was just a freshman. Stillings has been ranked first in his district and has been to states every year. With the unwavering support of his family, especially his mother, it's no wonder he's had so much success throughout his career.
"My mom has driven me everywhere since I was little," Stillings said. "I always had transportation, never had to worry about a ride. They've always supported me and done everything with me."
He was also being recruited by Campbell University, American University, and Old Dominion, but in the end, Drexel was the right choice in both academics and athletics. The school is just about an hour from Stillings' home, so his mother will easily be able to make the trip see him wrestle.
"I am really interested in the co-op program at Drexel, and I'm really close with the coaches," Stillings said.