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Warriors' Warthling reflects on loses as much as wins in earning No. 100

Steven Warthling never accepts anything but his best effort in all that he does. Case in point, his 100th career win in wrestling.

When asked how it felt to reach that milestone victory, Warthling flashed a wry smile and said, “It’s about time. I should have had that a long time ago, but worth every match. I think about every match I lost....How many of them could have been victories and gotten me closer.”

A Tonawanda High School senior, Warthling became the 17th member of the Warriors 100-win Club when he defeated DaQuan Jackson of Niagara Falls during the Niagara Frontier Wrestling Officials Association Tournament on Jan. 4-5 at Niagara County Community College.

Described by Tonawanda coach Jeff Hess as an old school, throw-back type of wrestler, Warthling, who wrestles at 220 pounds, is the epitome of the hard work by which the Warriors wrestling program prides itself.

You can look up the meanings of dedication, effort, heart and sacrifice in the dictionary. But you truly don’t understand what those words mean until you watch a young man like Warthling in action.

“It was great but it wasn’t surprising. Anybody that works as hard as Steven does, it’s not expected but it’s not surprising when they hit a level like that,” Hess said. “Like I’ve said a hundred times, he works harder than any other kid I’ve ever coached before.”

Hess said Warthling generally trains with partners in the 150-pound range to improve his speed, agility and conditioning, which have been key to his success.

Hess, a former Warrior, added that he recalls seeing the way a ninth grade Warthling carried him at tournaments and that he couldn’t be prouder to see a quality kid like Warthling representing Tonawanda with class, courage and heart.

“He’s an awesome kid to coach and great kid to have as a captain,” Hess added.

Defeating Jackson on Jan. 4, Warthling, who is 22-2 this year, joined Tim Barnard as Warriors who reached 100 wins this season and earned the team’s Warrior Of the Week award for outstanding performance and dedication.

Noting how he remembers everyone of his 37 losses as much as he remembers his 103 wins, Warthling, who also plays football and baseball, feels he’s learned more about himself and life through his defeats.

Overcoming roadblocks in athletics has helped prepare him to deal with and conquer adversity as he makes his way through life.

“I put every ounce of effort into getting 100,” Warthling explained. “In football, every win that we got was a 100 percent effort. In baseball, going 19-1 last year was no joke. That was all effort.”

“All my — sports, baseball, wrestling and football, but especially wrestling taught me that if something doesn’t go your way you’ve got to dig deep,” he added. “It’s the only way I know.”

Looking at the names on the 100-Win Club board, Warthling, who is close friends and teammates of most, said each and every one has inspired him and helped him along the way on his journey to 100.

“I’ve always been close to the McGregors and especially the Barnards — Tim working up there (in the practice room) and getting (100). I’ve been wrestling him ever since we’ve been in River Rats,” Warthling said. “Everyone who’s up there — Steve Burns, Don Lilly helped me get up there and another guy who should be up there, Erik Herbert, he was like eight wins shy. They all helped me.”
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