LEVI

Biglerville’s Levi Haines controls his opponent during the PIAA Southeast Regional Tournament last February at CD East High School. Haines, who went on to win a state title, recently competed in the UWW Cadet World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The rising senior went 1-1 in a pair of matches at 71 kilograms in the freestyle tournament.

Levi Haines didn’t leave the UWW Cadet World Championships in Budapest with a gold medal.

A controversial second-round loss saw the Biglerville wrestler come home without any hardware. But that doesn’t mean he left the tournament without having gained anything.

“It was a great experience for me,” Haines said. “Of course, it was a lot of long travel and the adjustment to the time was a little difficult for me. But we got there early and acclimation camp was really important for me.”

Haines said that week spent in Budapest prior to the competition helped him adjust and get used to the environment.

“It was great,” he said. “We were able to have those days to get down to weight and get comfortable and the meals were right there so we never had to leave the hotel.”

While Haines only competed twice in the tournament, he said that wrestling against international competition taught him a lot that he plans to take home and apply domestically.

“The wrestling styles of the foreigners are just a lot different from the guys here in the US,” he said. “So I had to adjust to that but I learned a lot about that and maybe some things I could do differently the next time.”

In his second round match, which he lost 4-3 to Tukey’s Cengizhan Dogan, Haines appeared to have scored a point for a pushout that would have given him a late 4-3 lead. Instead, the referee awarded no point and after Haines’ corner lost the ensuing challenge, Dogan was award a point. However, Haines isn’t blaming anyone for the loss.

“I was expecting a pushout, personally, but sometimes calls don’t go our way,” he said. “The way I look at it, if I would’ve got another takedown or scored more points it wouldn’t have mattered.”

Joining Haines in Budapest was Eric Thompson, who serves as a coach at the M2 Training Center which Haines attends, as well as at the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club, which Haines will likely be a part of when heads to Penn State for his college career.

“It’s huge having him there,” Haines said. “I really like Eric. He’s a great coach and just having that familiar person there who knows your style is huge. I can’t wait until I get up there and get to work with him more.”

As he enters his senior season, Haines is looking to back up and improve upon a junior season where he went undefeated and claimed his first PIAA state championship at 145 pounds. This time around, he believes he’ll be doing it at an even higher weight class.

“I don’t know if I have any specific goals. I’m just looking at being me,” he said. “I’m looking maybe between 160 and 170 weight-wise. I really just want to go out there and pick up the pace and score a lot of points. A big lesson I learned at cadets is you’ve got to go out there and be ready to go and work quick.”

Following the completion of that season, Haines is set to head to State College and join the powerhouse Penn State program. He’s hoping maybe some of his cadet world team teammates may end up joining him.

“All those guys I’d love to see wrestle at Penn State. They’re all fantastic wrestlers and they’ll have plenty of options and I know they’re hearing from a lot of coaches,” he said. “I think the guy I’m closest with is Meyer Shapiro. I think I’ve known him since we were about five. He grew up about an hour away in Maryland and we’ve always got along very well. So it would be cool to be able to wrestle with him in college.”

Haines is now turning his attention back to folkstyle wrestling and says he hopes to get back into action in the fall at national tournaments.

Clay Sauertieg can be reached at csauertieg@gettysburgtimes.com

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