Penn wrestling's 2019 season is underway, and the Quakers have a roster stacked with new players along with old ones. Among those athletes is a trio from Wyoming Seminary High School.
Wyoming Seminary is known as one of the top schools academically in the state and also has a robust and successful wrestling team. Over the past four years, Penn has recruited three athletes from the school in senior Patrick Munn, sophomore Jake Hendricks, and freshman Jake Stefanowicz.
Munn, a Cypress, Texas native, transferred to Wyoming Seminary — commonly referred to as "Seminary" — after his first two years of high school.
“I made the change [to Seminary] junior [and] senior year," Munn said. "It was a massive change because I just heard of Pa. wrestling, Northeast wrestling, and how different it is, and I finally [went] up there and experienced it.”
Making this transition presented a challenge, as Munn was surrounded by the best of the best. Ultimately, the experience shaped him into a stronger wrestler.
“Especially with the centralized high school at [Seminary], with the best kids who go there across the country, the level of competitiveness was off the charts," Munn said. "It just breeds really strong wrestlers there.”
As a wrestler, Munn has learned a lot about himself, in regard to both his strengths and weaknesses, and one thing that has helped him is the new mentality he acquired.
“I learned in high school the mentality of being a wrestler," Munn said. "It’s a different mentality than other sports. You have losing weight factored in, early morning practices, afternoon practices that are really tough, and it’s the strong mentality that wrestlers have in general that we apply to everyday life, grinding during the school year, during class, and during practices.”
Munn has passed down what he has learned from high school and at Penn to his younger teammates, Hendricks and Stefanowicz.
Hendricks also remembered his wrestling experience at Seminary with fondness.
“After we got … our wrestling room, which is an old bank, it was the wrestling sanctuary, it was away from the rest of campus, so it was our own thing,” Hendricks said.
A path was paved for Stefanowicz, who followed Munn and Hendricks at Seminary and then at Penn. Having those two friends, as well as his other teammates at Seminary, has been important in his development as a wrestler.
“It was such a culture, a group of guys who knew we were the best and believed that we were all the best," Stefanowicz said. “Working with guys who believed in each other and who share the same big dream is amazing."
A few years later, he sees the same values and aspiration in his teammates at Penn.
“I see a lot of the same things that I saw at Seminary. I see a group of guys that love hanging out and love chasing after big things," Stefanowicz said.
Having Seminary as their common bond, the three have helped each other navigate the community of Penn and be the best wrestlers that they can be.
“These guys are like two of my best friends, so we all went through all the same stuff in high school, and Patrick passed down stuff to me last year," Hendricks said. "Now I’m passing down stuff to Jake; it’s a good chain."
Having formed a special bond with each other, as well as their teammates and coaches, all three spoke highly of coach Roger Reina and his coaching and mentorship abilities.
“He really knows how to mold and shape not just a wrestler, but the characteristics of a person as well,” Munn said.
The example of this trio demonstrates how strong of a bond the team has and the support system they have for each other both on and off the mat. Looking ahead, the three are eager to continue setting a good example for the future generation of Penn wrestlers.