Kiski Area wrestler Cam Connor commits to Penn
Cam Connor watched Kiski Area wrestlers he looked up to like Matt McCutcheon and teammates like Noah Levett commit to wrestle in college, and all the while he thought about how it would feel to do that himself one day.
Connor got his moment Thursday, verbally committing to Penn in advance of his senior season with the Cavaliers and putting an official capper on his most successful high school wrestling season to date.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a while, seeing all the older kids above me committing and everything, so it’s finally cool to finally have my day,” said Connor, who won his first WPIAL individual title and PIAA medal as a junior. “It’s something you look forward to as an athlete in high school.”
Other schools Connor considered included Army, Bucknell and Cornell, but Penn stood out to him. He visited the Ivy League school’s Philadelphia campus twice and came away impressed, and he also likes the direction the Quakers are taking under coach Roger Reina, an Ivy League Hall of Famer who began his second stint at Penn last season and has more than 200 career victories.
“I liked the university a lot,” he said. “It was a difficult decision: I liked a couple other schools a lot, but I thought I could just see myself going there the most and thought it was the best fit for me. I ended up just going with my gut.”
A three-year starter for Kiski Area, Connor thrives as a defensive wrestler and had his most successful season on the mat in 2017-18.
The 145-pounder first helped the Cavaliers defend their WPIAL Class AAA team title and finish second at the PIAA tournament. The next month at the WPIAL individual championships, Connor beat Penn-Trafford’s Job Chishko, 2-1, for his first title and then placed seventh at the state tournament in Hershey.
Connor has a career record of 113-29 and is a two-time WPIAL medalist and PIAA qualifier.
“He’s got a good mental toughness,” Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said. “He kind of has a game plan, and he doesn’t tend to veer off his game plan much out there. He sticks to what he’s comfortable with, what he’s good at, what he’s put time into. I think he’s a very smart wrestler on the mat. When he’s in a tight match, I think that’s where he’s really improved.”
Penn finished 9-8 last season and qualified four wrestlers to the NCAA championships.
“I can see them turning into a contender, and it’s also an educational opportunity I can’t turn down,” said Connor, who plans to major in business. “It’s definitely another part I’m looking forward to, helping to improve a college program along with the many other teammates that I’ll have.”
Connor said making a college decision takes some pressure off, but he has no plans to change the way he wrestles as a senior.
“I want to win WPIALs again, for sure,” he said. “I want to win states, but I’m trying to get top four at least. We all come together, and we all seem to wrestle our best parts of the season in the WPIAL tournament and states. I’m looking forward to wrestling with my teammates one last time.”