Votano looks back at Rams wrestling season

By Bob Parana - Staff Writer

Nine years ago when Johnsonburg wrestling Head coach Mike Votano took over the Rams wrestling program he had five wrestlers. His goal was to turn the Rams into an elite program. That goal has been reached. The 2019-20 Paper City grapplers had a season for the ages. Add a great campaign with a stable of young wrestlers and the team has the makings of reaching state elite status.
The list of the team’s accomplishments is long. It started with the season-opening Erie McDowell Tournament where Johnsonburg finished second in team scoring while picking up championships from senior Tyler Watts (182-pounds) and juniors Cole Casilio (160-pounds) and Isaac Zimmerman (170 pounds), and sophomore Camron Marciniak (195-pounds). Junior Nolan Shaffer (138-pounds) and freshman Aiden Zimmerman (152-pounds) finished second, sophomore Isaac Copella (106-pounds), freshman Wyatt Shaffer (113-pounds), and juniors Cole Norlin (126-pounds), and Dalton Stahli (138-pounds) placed third, and sophomore Collin Porter (120-pounds) finished fourth. The Rams won the Ridgway Duals, finished third at the Ultimate Warrior Tournament, finished the dual season 18-5, picked up Class AA District 9 Championships from Aiden Zimmerman (152) and Casilio (160), second-place finishes from Wyatt Shaffer (106), Nolan Shaffer (132), Stahli (138), and freshman Kaden Dennis (145), a third place finish from Isaac Zimmerman (170), and fourth place finish from Watts (182). Those finishes earned the grapplers a trip to the Northwest Regional Tournament where they finished third in team scoring. Aiden Zimmerman and Casilio earned trips to the PIAA championships with second place finishes and Stahli advanced with a third place at regionals.
“Every year we have goals. We fell short of a few district champions the past couple years. Getting district championships was our first goal. From there we wanted to advance kids to states. We’ve had wrestlers reach the regional tournament the past few years but we haven’t made it to a state tournament. Our next goal was to get kids to the state tournament. We definitely reached our goal. As a team too place third at the Northwest Regional tournament was maybe something we didn’t look at until it happened. It was a nice place to be. To get not one but three kids to states added to the season’s accomplishments. We always go in with the mind set of improving on the last season as a team and as individuals. We were able to do that,” Votano said.
You can read more from Votano's look back in the April 2 Ridgeway Record