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STAFF PHOTOS/COLLEEN MCALEER Tunkhannock head coach, Gary Siegel, and assistant coach Jake Burgess, were selected as the 2020 Wrestling District 2 AA coaches of the year.

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Trail coach Keith Youtz shows off the Lions’ Sportsmanship Award, given to the coaches by LL officials at the District competition.

Tunkhannock Area head wrestling coach Gary Siegel earned District 2 Coach of the Year, and received his award at the District meet on Saturday.

Jake Burgess garnered District 2’s assistant coach of the year as well.

In addition, the Tigers and Lackawanna Trail Lions won the Wyoming Valley Conference and Lackawanna League Sportsman awards, given by wrestling officials in the district.

“I had no coaching accolades when I coached at Crestwood,” said Siegel, who is in his first year at the helm of the Tiger’s program. “I did have a wrestler place at states my first year, and as a coach, that trumps any coaches awards.”

Sophomore Owen Woods said of his coaches, “They stand out more than other coaches because Coach Burgess makes sure we are in shape and makes sure our head is in the right spot before the match. Also, thanks to Coach Seigel’s wrestling accomplishments, he knows his technique and how to run a top notch practice.”

He continued, “They helped me progress as a wrestler by being in my best shape and making sure my head is right, knowing that I leave it all on the mat.”

Siegel was quick to acknowledge his supporting staff, including Burgess.

“The coaching staff here has been great. Jake Burgess, who I coached in high school, when I was an assistant coach in 2003, has been very supportive. He’s a great role model for the kids based on his background,” said Siegel.

He added, “The junior high coaches- Derek Green and Tommy Walsh- have done a great job with our junior high kids. Neither had much coaching experience coming in, yet the junior high boys brought home a lot of medals from tournaments this season. Volunteer coaches, Ray Woods, Tom Johnson, Jeff Stauffer and Ben Siegel have made our job easier and all offered different skills to the table.”

Siegel admitted the award is nice, but “Won’t change how I coach at all. All coaches work hard. It’s nice to get that recognition though.”

“The boys’ reaction was ‘Hey coach took first,’” Siegel laughed. “We, as a team, had a lot more seconds than first this year.”

Luke Carpenter, a junior wrestler, said, “When I heard, I was happy- but not entirely surprised. These coaches took a group of decent athletes and turned them into a district winning team. Their coaching style worked well with us and he really got us to believe we could win. I am really looking forward to learning more from them, and making my senior year a memorable one.”

After an admittedly tough year, battling strong teams, Siegel reflected, “The team as a whole has been joyfully supportive of one another. We have wrestled all over Pennsylvania and New York this year. The team was just as excited when Jeb Stevens and Cole Stauffer, our two freshmen got their first wins as they were when (senior Alex) Pierce got the last win to secure the district duals title.”

“The amount of conditioning we have done this season is a big change,” said sophomore Nick Marabell. “It is a big thing with coach, he doesn’t want us to be tired in the third period.”

Woods added, “Our advantage going into regionals is we have great partners and coaches to sharpen our skills to be ready to compete at this level.”

As for the team sportsmanship award, Tunkhannock won the WVC version, while Lackawanna Trail captured the LL award.

“My reaction for the sportmans award, which is presented by WVC wrestling officials, was a surprise,” said Siegel. “I do work them for calls when the Tunkhannock boys are wrestling. I’ve been told that I’m a yeller when the match is going on.”

Siegel believes this award is a reflection on the kids and how they handle themselves on the mat.

“Win or lose, I’m especially proud of that,” he said.

Trail head coach Keith Youtz takes a different approach to coaching, but it is one that has worked for him for his 33 years on the sideline.

“We have received this award before,” said Youtz. “I’m calmer than most of the coaches. The officials chose the coaches. I would rather have the athletes relaxed before and during competition. No matter what happens, good or bad, you should maintain your composure, and respect your competition.”