Former teacher is new wrestling coach

Cory Geer , Sports Editor

Pitt-Johnstown’s new assistant wrestling coach Aaron Konitzer said he made a tough decision to become a coach.

“I left a full-time teaching position at Port Washington High School in Wisconsin to become a grad-assistant at St. Cloud State,” said Konitzer.

St. Cloud State’s wrestling team is ranked No.1 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll.

While he was a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State, the wrestling team won back-to-back division II national championships.

“It was a crazy experience. The school had never won a national championship before; then, all of a sudden, we won back-to-back national championships,” said Konitzer.

St. Cloud State wrestling coach Steve Costanzo said that Konitzer made an important impact on the program.

“He had a tremendous impact on the program on and off the mat. He mentored our young wrestlers and guided them in the right direction,” said Costanzo.

Costanzo said that Konitzer’s best aspect is his core values.

“The No. 1 asset he brings is he is a tremendous person. He cares about the student athlete. It won’t take long for the guys respect him.”

Konitzer went to high school in Octonto Falls, Wis. There, he was a four-year starter and a three year team captain.  He finished his high school career with a 109-44 record.

After high school, he continued his wrestling career at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Konitzer was a three-year starter and 2012 Academic All-American at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  He was graduated in 2013 with a bachelor of science degree in physical education.

Konitzer said that his experience at Wisconsin-Oshkosh was a great one.

“While at Wisconsin-Oshcosh, it was a great learning experience at the  division III level to learn how to balance academics as well as competing.”

Konitzer came to the Pitt-Johnstown’s wrestling program midseason after former assistant Shane Valko left.

The transition of coming in midseason had been going well so far, said Konitzer.

“I think the guys have really responded well to me. The transition was similar to going to St. Cloud State. Coach (Pat) Pecora has won a few National Championships himself.”

Redshirt freshman wrestler, Levi Niebauer, said getting a new coach midseason had been a good thing.

“He came in and gave the team a change from our regular schedule during practice. He brings new moves to the table and is very passionate about our matches,” said Niebauer.