PUNXSUTAWNEY — Now that he's completed a career as Punxsutawney Area High School's winningest wrestler, senior Kody Young is prepared to take the next step.
Young, who finished with 143 victories and the second-most falls in District IX history, signed with Division II Mercyhurst College Wednesday.
Young was interested in Division I schools Edinboro University and Clarion University, but ultimately chose Mercyhurst with a physical therapy major.
Punxsy coach and Young's father, Buddy Young, said that his son is a good fit at Mercyhurst, which is led by head coach Mike Wehler.
"Mike Wehler wrestled at St. Marys, and he understands the D-IX makeup," Buddy Young said. "D-IX wrestling and D-IX sports aren't powerhouses in the state because of the lack of strength in their schedule. And he understands that."
Another thing that helped Young decide was the money he will receive from academic and athletic scholarships, which will help pay for most of his tuition.
"Plus, it's close and a nice campus," Young said. "I really like the coach, and I know a lot of wrestlers there."
Under four-year head coach Wehler, the Lakers have had eight All-Americans, with redshirt sophomore Jordan Shields most recently finishing fourth at the Division II National Championships at 157 pounds in March. Jordan's brother, Josh, won a national title in 2009 and was a national runner-up in 2010.
Young is expected to compete at 133 pounds next year, but with the Lakers' depth, Young will have to compete for a starting spot.
"I think he has the ability to make an impact on the team right away, but he has his work cut out for him," Wehler said. "I just think our room is pretty tough and deep."
Young, a two-time PIAA qualifier and four-time district champion, has high aspirations for his collegiate wrestling career.
"He wants to put himself in position to be competing for that national title before he graduates," Punxsy head coach Eric Eddy said. "Coach Wehler was willing to put all of his eggs in one basket with Kody. He was willing to risk everything he had to offer athletically to one guy."
Whether Young can accomplish that goal is up to him, Wehler said.
"It depends on how much he's going to put into it. He definitely has the ability to become an All-American and a champion once he's done," he said. "That's easy to talk about, but it's harder to do. He can do it if he's going to work hard."
Young is one of three current Punxsy seniors to sign with Mercyhurst this year. Both Devon Luzell and Ian Weaver will play football for the Lakers next year.