Weighing in at around 180 pounds, Collingswood High School junior wrestler John Deaner is the quite the wrestler in the the 182-pound weight class.
As it turns out, he’s not too bad wrestling at 200 either.
Wrestling two weight classes up at the Collingswood Duals this weekend, Deaner went 3-0, recording 4-1 and 5-0 decisions as well as a second-period pin. His efforts helped the injury-ridden Panthers place second in the tournament.
“He had a really good day,” Collingswood coach Dechlin Moody said. “He stepped up big for us.”
Because the Panthers have been hit so hard by injuries this season—five starters are currently out of the lineup—Deaner has spent little time in his natural weight class. The junior has wrestled at 182 just twice, spending the rest of the season at 195 and 220. He said he doesn’t look at the situation as a hindrance, but rather as motivation to grow.
“It gives me another reason to work harder, lift stronger and get bigger,” Deaner said. “It really makes me want to just get out there and go harder.”
Because he is smaller then just about every wrestler he has faces, Deaner relies on his conditioning to carry him through. While most heavyweights dread long matches, Deaner is happy to take a bout into the third period or beyond.
“It’s really about conditioning,” Deaner said. “Going into the first period the bigger guys are going to be all fired up, you just got to wear them down. Then in the third period you can start to work on your moves.
"It’s just heart, really.”
Deaner spent the first few weeks of the season middling around the .500 mark, but has been on a roll of late, winning his last four matches to improve to 10-5.
“I lost a couple of matches that I should have won, but overall, it’s been a good season,” Deaner said.
Collingswood advanced to the finals of the tournament with victories over Mastery Charter (63-9) and Pequannock Township (36-26). The Panthers then ran into a red-hot Cherokee team that handed them a 53-18 defeat.
The loss to the Chiefs prevented the Panthers from achieving their 700th win in program history. Collingswood will look to reach that milestone on Monday when it travels to take on Audubon at 7 p.m.
“There’s a lot of tradition here at Collingswood and a lot of great coaches, so I’m just happy to be here and be a part of this,” Moody said.
Collingswood also has its eyes on finishing strong in the Colonial Conference and sending a handful of wrestlers through to the regional tournament. Once the team gets fully healthy, Moody believes they will be tough to beat.
“I’m excited for the rest of the year,” Moody said. “Our team is fun to watch, especially our upper weights. We expect to make some noise at the end of the season when we get our guys back.”