For the second year in a row, Ivan Balavage of Scranton Prep won an individual title at the Lackawanna League Wrestling Championships. Last year, it was at 195 pounds. This year, he won at 220 pounds.
He pinned Jose Falcon of Delaware Valley in the quarterfinals; pinned Justin Kelley from Montrose in the semifinals; and pinned Honesdale’s John Kunis-Miller in 26 seconds in the final. Also, the win in the semifinals was the 100th of Balavage’s career.
Here is more from his Athlete of the Week interview:
Other sports I play: Football, lacrosse
Favorite teams: Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Dodgers
Athletes I admire: Olympic wrestler Jordan Burroughs. Just his grind. He’s always working hard no matter what, working to improve himself.
Favorite food: Steak. Is there a food you enjoy that you don’t eat during wrestling season? I have to stay away from pasta. When the season’s over, I have myself a big heavy bowl of pasta.
Superstitions and rituals: Before a match, before I walk out and put my foot on the mat, I do a little jump from my knees to my chest. I also wear the same socks. I pin them together when I wash they so they don’t get mixed up. Don’t want to mess up the mojo.
What did it mean to you to reach the 100-win milestone? Just a lot of self-pride. I’ve been working hard and for a long time to get that for myself.
Did it mean a little more because you got it with a pin? It didn’t matter to me. I was just excited that I got it. It’s always nice to get it with a pin, though.
Are you going to stay at 220 pounds for the season? No, I’m on my way down to 195. I just got stuck in a bad position with how long football season went. Is it difficult wrestling at a higher weight class? It is a weight difference. Other than that, I feel like I have the technique to do so. I just have to work my moves and make sure I’m doing everything correctly.
You are coming off a successful football season. How did that get you ready for wrestling season from a confidence and a conditioning standpoint? It helps. Coming off a successful football season, you just want to keep it going and improve on that because it’s my senior season, I just want to make the best of it. I feel like I’m in pretty good shape. There’s always room for improvement, though. Found that out my first match. I was dying. Started running in the room and doing a little extra after that.
You were named to the Times-Tribune All-Region Football Team. What did that mean to you? It means a lot because all the work I put in the weight room during the summer and then during the season just really paid off.
What was it like learning how to play lacrosse? I didn’t want to get lazy (in the spring), so I started to play lacrosse. It was pretty tough. First day, we were working on cradling, keeping the ball in the net, and I was having trouble with it. But then toward the end of the season, I started getting the hang of it. Some of the kids took me under their wing and showed me the way. I enjoy it. It’s pretty fun.
Three people I’d like to have dinner with: Jordan Burroughs, Mark Schultz, Will Ferrell.
Post-graduation plans: I’m either going to play football or wrestle. I’m looking at a couple of schools. I’d like to study accounting or something in business.