The K.C. McCleary Bio
West York Wrestling's K.C. McCleary...
graduated from West York in 1981...
but, it wasn't
the senior year K.C. wanted as a memory. He wasn't on the mats as
a senior at West York.
K.C.'s West York
Junior High School record was a stellar 22-3-1 (undefeated in 8th & 9th
grades). At West York Senior High - K.C. was a 2-year starter and
earned a 3rd place finish at the 1980 YCIAA Sectional Championships @
145lbs. That year ('80) - K.C. lost to Spring Grove's Scott
Wakeland in the semi-finals... and recalls having Wakeland locked up in
a tight cradle and pinned... but, official Ralph Hartlaub wouldn't call
the fall! At the '80 District III tourney - K.C. lost his first
match by fall to Brad Weigle of Cumberland Valley... (1980 District III
AAA Champ). That was it - the end of a "roller-coaster" wrestling career.
K.C.'s "life on the
mats" began at age six... following in the footsteps of brother,
K.C.'s first day at Elementary Wrestling practice, which was for 4th
through 6th graders, was scary. K.C. was in kindergarten!
Coach John T. Toggas lined up the kids along the bleachers and asked for
names and grades. When he got to K.C. - the youngster said "no grade!"
For the next several years of the program, that was Coach Toggas's nick-name
for K.C. K.C. learned
quickly at practice and LOVED every minute of it. K.C.
wrestled with great names like Dave & Tom Toggas, Steve Brown, Alan
Silar, Rodger Gay, Brian Gay, Danny Shoemaker and lots of others.
Through those years, K.C. wrestled in many AAU and USA tourneys
(folkstyle, freestyle, greco) while winning some and losing some against
really good kids! He competed against athletes like Wilbur Wolf from Big Spring (PIAA
AA '81 Champ), Mark Dugan from Moshannon Valley HS (2-time PIAA
AA '77 & '78 Champ) and Rico Chiapparelli
from the Baltimore, Maryland area who was an '82
Blair Prep National Champ and NCAA DI
Iowa University '87
In Junior High,
K.C. had a very successful career (22-3-1) and won the Red Lion JH
tourney twice. When he
moved up to the Senior High level at West York - it was a rude
K.C.'s first match was against Steve Bass of Warwick ('79 District III
Champion @ 126lbs.) - and he got pinned.
K.C. was not prepared for that loss and his confidence in himself took a
MAJOR hit. K.C. shares
that he never recovered from that loss... and since the mental part of
wrestling is so HUGE, he started to lose additional matches that
he should have won. In fact, wrestling became a huge chore
and quickly lost its joy. He didn't make weight for a couple of
dual meets. K.C. quit the team for a period of time his junior
year. He then came back before the '80 sectionals.
That was the toughest time of
his young life. K.C. had a brother (Kevin) who was one of
the best wrestlers in the history of West York. He had set himself
up to match Kevin's achievements. In addition, K.C. felt pressure
from his father to perform and never felt as if he fulfilled his
father's expectations. When he quit before the dual meet season
ended - his father (Paul) didn't
understand why - nor did he accept it. K.C.'s relationship with
his dad suffered. However, God used this period in K.C.'s life to
accept him. K.C. had asked Coach JT Toggas if he could come back
for the post-season after he left the team his junior year. Coach
Toggas was always supportive and not critical of him during this tough
period. K.C.'s dad wouldn't allow him on the team, but Coach
Toggas went to bat for him and talked his dad into it. The '80
Sectionals rolled around and other teams came to practice with West
York. K.C. had practiced with Spring Grove's best wrestler, the very tough Scott Wakeland, and could cradle him.
Wakeland and McCleary met in the Sectional semi's - and while losing 8-0, McCleary
cradled Wakeland and had him FLAT. K.C. knows the official (Ralph
Hartlaub) missed the call, but life goes on and K.C. went on to gain a 3rd place,
good enough for his only District III tourney experience (1980) in high school.
When the '80-'81 YCIAA season
began at West York, K.C. was not on the mats... nor, would he return.
K.C. did not compete as a senior at West York High School.
in K.C.'s life started a search for meaning and purpose in life.
At his high school graduation, K.C. was depressed. Wrestling meant
so much, but not achieving his goals caused him to evaluate things - and
he turned to Jesus Christ. K.C. started attending church and
reading the Bible. K.C. hasn't
been the same person since.
'86 URSINUS WRESTLING ALUMNUS
K.C. graduated from
in 1986 with a B.A. in English and received his Masters degree in Public
Administration from Penn State University in 1993. K.C. wrestled
and lettered at
Ursinus College under former West Chester State College
wrestler and current Ursinus head coach
and NCAA Division III Hall of Famer -
Coach Racich, in 2010, will mark his 30th year of coaching and his 400th
win! K.C. McCleary had a 56-29 career record at Ursinus College,
was team captain as a senior - and
had a great experience! K.C. was a 3-time
MAC Conference place-winner (5th in '83 @ 158lbs., 6th in '84 @ 158lbs.,
6th in '86 167lbs.,). K.C. placed 3rd at the '85 Lebanon Valley
wanted to qualify for the NCAA DIII tourney, but it didn't happen.
While in college, K.C. really enjoyed following Dover grad and
'83 PIAA State Champion
- Shaun Smith (Delaware Valley) become a 4-time MAC Champion and
NCAA DIII Champion!
is married to Martina (in 1988) and they have three children... Lauren -
13yrs. old, Lydia - 11 yrs. old and Michael - 6yrs. old. K.C. is
an Assistant Administrator at the York/Adams Tax Bureau.
K.C. McCleary is
the son of Paul C. and Pat McCleary.
K.C. has helped his brother Kevin at Dover JH and was a wrestling
official (something he might get back into doing!). K.C., now 47
years old, is running and getting in shape - maybe in good enough shape
to once again compete in the sport K.C. always loved - WRESTLING.
Kevin - is a 1973 West York Wrestling Alumnus.
West York Wrestling's
graduated in 1973, and in my
(DL) opinion, is the BEST wrestler out of
the West York Wrestling stable NOT to win a PIAA State title.
There are names - John Bowser, Neil Bupp, Jeff Meckley, Mike Stambaugh
and others who had the potential for the title... but, Kevin McCleary
had all of the tools to capture a state trophy. Kevin had
speed, strength and a vast array of moves to go along with his tenacity
and love for the sport. Kevin McCleary is one of TWO West York
Wrestlers to go undefeated in their varsity high school dual meet
careers... the other Bulldog being Dr. Glenn Amsbaugh. Kevin was also
undefeated in three years of Junior High dual meet competition!
Kevin McCleary is one of five West York Wrestlers to win three YCIAA
Sectional Wrestling Titles, and is an Easton Holiday Tournament Champion
and Outstanding Wrestler Award recipient in
'72. Kevin was a
captain of the '73 (13-1) West York Mat Team and a great student.
Kevin's West York Wrestling Teams were 40-2 during his three year
campaign with one YCIAA title in
went on to
F&M College, where he captured a 3rd place medal at the
1974 NCAA Division III National Championships @ Wilkes College...
All-American status @ 150lbs.
Kevin was a
freshman at F&M when
he placed 3rd at the 1974 NCAA DIII Championships!
currently Head Junior High Wrestling Coach at Dover, PA... and, a former
Team Pennsylvania Greco-Roman Head Coach. Kevin is also on the
Icebreakers Wrestling Club coaching staff. Kevin is married to the
lovely Jane Hoover McCleary and they have a son, Shawn McCleary (an
excellent wrestler and baseball player!) and a daughter, Kari
I asked my
friend K.C. McCleary... to complete an interview for the West York
Wrestling Alumni website and fans.
Webmaster & Owner of westyorkwrestlingalumni.com
The K.C. McCleary Interview... by Don Lehman
K.C. McCleary Q & A
- KC, I want to assure you that I've always paid my taxes! How is
the job going at the York-Adams Tax Bureau?
Itís taxing! Actually, there
are lots of changes coming to local earned income tax collection that will
affect the way we do things here. One of the biggest changes is that you
will now be able to file your local tax return online. Also, in 2012,
Northern York County School District and the Hanover area will become part
of our collection jurisdiction. A lot of work has to take place behind the
scenes to make sure that the municipalities and school districts that we
collect taxes for receive the revenue that is due them in a timely and
accurate fashion. We do our very best to make sure that happens.
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- I see that you entered the recent 2010 Keystone Games in the Masters
Wrestling Division. How did that come about and how did you do?
It never gets out of your blood.
This past February I stepped on the scale and weighed 192.
Itís the heaviest Iíve ever been. So I decided I needed to change my
lifestyle and start exercising. Since leaving college in 1986 I had tried
numerous times to get into an exercise routine and failed to stick at it.
But I knew that if I didnít do something now, at age 47, I never would. So
I started running and lifting, and by the end of June I was down to 168. In
fact, I felt so good that I worked out a few times with West Yorkís Broken
Cage Wrestling Club, rubbing shoulders with
Billy Randt and the
guys. It was the first time in more
than a decade that I had been on the mats, and I loved it! I started
checking out USA Wrestlingís website,
www.themat.com, to look for competitions for veteran wrestlers. I
learned that there are several held in Iowa and Utah each spring, and there
is even a Veteransí Freestyle World Championship held in Europe each
summer. Guys compete into their 60ís, if you can believe it. Maybe next
year, Lord willing. I found that the Keystone Games has a Masters division,
so I took a leap and signed up. I was in good physical shape but hadnít had
a chance to really drill, so I was a little rusty. I lost my first match to
Mike Greco of New York, 4-3, giving up a couple of takedowns. Then the
organizers of the tournament threw us a ringer. Itís supposed to be a
double elimination tourney, so I would have wrestled Mike Greco at least
once more. Since I was in better shape than he was, I felt I had a real
good chance of winning. But the organizers put a 20-year old kid from the
Open Division in our bracket (without consulting us), and he proceeded to
beat both of us. I pulled a muscle in my ribs and had to default against
him. So I wound up placing third.
But I loved it! It was a fantastic experience, and I hope by next
spring to be able to travel out west and wrestle guys my own age.
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- I entered a couple/three "Alumni Tourneys" that the York College staff
(Rich Achtzehn-Tom Kessler) used to run. Did you take a shot at any of
the past YCP Alumni Mat Tourneys... and how was the experience?
I competed several times at the YCP Alumni Tournament, the last being 12 or
more years ago. I won it once or twice if I recall. That was always a fun
DL note: Rumor has it that K.C. McCleary beat West York PIAA runner-up
and IUP wrestler, Jeff Meckley at one of those old YCP Alumni Tourneys!
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- KC, you started wrestling at age six. I see that your son
Michael is six years old. Is Michael showing any interest in the sport
of wrestling? How young is "too young" to start the sport?
Michael loves to wrestle his dad on the living room rug, and I hope to
introduce him to some elementary wrestling this fall.
Itís not too early to start teaching
the basics, but I believe it is too early to compete. It needs to be
kept fun, and the pressure kept to a minimum.
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- I'm sure that following in the footsteps of your brother Kevin was
tough! And, your dad, I'm sure... expected you to succeed just like he
expected Kevin to succeed. Did you feel that pressure and how did you
deal with it?
I definitely felt that pressure, but it was largely
self-inflicted. Kevin was
undefeated in dual meets, and itís hard to follow that act. But he was my
inspiration, and I was immensely proud to be his younger brother. As I got
older I was not as successful as he had been and I began to doubt myself. I
lost many, many matches simply because I didnít believe I could win.
The mental game is the biggest part
of being a champion, and my mental game took some hits that I wasnít able to
recover from during my high school career.
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- What was your relationship like with your brother (Kevin) during your
"younger" years growing up - and, did he help you learn the ins and outs of
We were very close, and he taught me
just about everything I know about wrestling. He coached those
Junior Olympic AAU teams I was on starting in 1974, and they were tremendous
learning experiences. As I got older, he and I would wrestle and bang
heads. We got to know each otherís style so well that we could anticipate
the each otherís moves. But he was always the better wrestler, and
wrestling him improved my skill.
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- Since I graduated with Kevin, I remember your grandparents and mom
being at every match! I don't want to exclude your dad... because he
was at every practice and every match! I know he was a
PIAA wrestling official at one time... and, he seemed to be very
passionate about the sport of wrestling. Tell me about that total
family support you had during your wrestling career?
Yes, wrestling was the focal point
of our lives for much of my youth. We traveled to tournaments all
through the summer, all over the state. Everyone was passionate
about the sport. My mom filmed all our matches on a Kodak Super-8 camera,
and we still have those old films. Sometimes you get seasick watching them,
because mom had trouble holding the camera steady when one of her boys was
on the mat. My grandfather, Paul McCleary Sr., followed all the West York
wrestlers starting with Dana Luckenbaugh ('65
PIAA State Champion). He (my grandfather) absolutely loved watching the
sport. My dad never missed one of
my matches that I remember, and he was always there to cheer me on and
encourage me. He (dad) often got a little too passionate and had to
cool off after a match. When I was in junior high someone showed a tape at
the awards banquet of all the dads watching their kids wrestle during the
year. It was the funniest thing to watch their antics and gyrations during
a match. My dad was one of
funniest. I wish I had that tape today.
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- KC, your Junior High wrestling experience was successful, as you only
lost a handful of matches and were undefeated in 8th and 9th grades.
But, when you hit the Senior High level... you hit a wall. Was it a
mental or physical determent that frustrated you?
It was mental. My first match as a 10th grader was against
Warwickís Steve Bass at 132 lbs.
Steve Bass was a ('79 District III
Champion @ 126lbs.)
and very tough. He pinned me.
The loss completely shattered my
confidence. Iím not sure why, but I was unable to recover from it in
the years to come. Physically I was strong and in good shape. I was always
a good practice wrestler. I could hold my own or beat anyone in the
wrestling room. I always tried to set the pace in practice. But for some
reason I couldnít translate that to "live" competition. I would make
mistakes and give up points, and end up losing a match I should have won.
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- Do you think that cutting weight was a factor in the loss of interest
in the sport of wrestling... or, did you cut weight the wrong way?
It certainly took the joy out of the sport for me, because I didnít know
what I was doing when it came to losing weight.
I would starve myself and then binge
over the weekend and come in 10-15 lbs. overweight. Several times
as a junior, I
didnít make weight for a match. I would sit in sweat boxes and saunas, go
home and run at night after practice, and hate every minute of it. During
the dark months of January and February my junior year, I lived in a constant state of
depression because of the weight loss grind, even though I never cut a great
deal of weight percentage wise. Other guys on the team lost more weight
than I did, but it was always a struggle for me.
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- You walked away from the sport during your junior year at West York -
and then came back for the '80 YCIAA Sectional
Tournament. How tough was
Tough doesnít describe it. It was a nightmare for me.
I left my team down, disappointed my
family (especially my dad), and felt a personal sense of failure unlike
anything Iíd felt before. But I was totally burned out by that
point, and I wanted out.
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- Through those tough times... you stated that Coach John T.
Toggas never gave up on you or berated you when the decision was made to
leave the team during your junior year. I'm sure you never forgot that
support from the coach.
He was like a second father to me.
I canít overstate how much respect I have for Coach John T. Toggas and his
support of me during that time. When I finally wanted to come back, my dad
wouldnít let me, because he was angry at me for quitting. But Coach Toggas
came to my house and talked to my dad into letting me wrestle the end of my
junior year. I will
never forget that. It is the reason I got back into the sport and went on
to wrestle in college, and why I still love to compete today. I will always
admire Coach Toggas for that.
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- KC, you took a year off after graduating from West York before making
the decision to enter Ursinus College in the fall of 1982. What did
you do during that "year off" and why did you choose Ursinus College?
I worked painting houses and wrestling in some tournaments. It was good for
me to take some time off from school.
I applied to Ursinus because my dad
graduated from there. The events of my high school career had caused
me to start searching for meaning and purpose to my life. At my high school
graduation, which should have been a happy time, I was really depressed and
lost. I didnít know what I was going to do with my life, and having failed
to meet the goals I had set for myself in wrestling caused me to evaluate
what was really important in life. It was at this point that a friend
introduced me to Jesus Christ. I
began attending church and reading the Bible. In Christ I found a
Savior who offered forgiveness for all the selfish things I had done, and a
purpose for my life far beyond anything I had known before. I havenít been
the same since, and I praise Him for it.
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- It sounds like you had a GREAT experience at Ursinus College wrestling
for NCAA DIII Hall of Famer in '03 - Bill Racich! Tell me how Coach
Racich influenced your life and... how did it feel to again - experience mat
success later in life at the college level?
I did. It was interesting, because I already had a connection to Coach Bill
Racich through my brother, Kevin. Bill had wrestled Kevin at the West York
Summer Wrestling Tournament during Billís days at West Chester State and
Kevin beat him. When I showed up he knew who I was, and when I ducked him
on the first day of practice, he said that Kevin did that to him too!
Coach Racich pushed us Ė hard.
He definitely made me a better wrestler, and one season he brought in a
workout partner for me Ė Jon Moser, who had been a PIAA State Champion ('79
@ 126lbs.) while
wrestling for Methacton High School He pummeled me, but gradually I came to
hold my own against him. Wrestling
against competitors of that caliber always caused me to wrestle better.
We had some great workouts.
Coach Bill Racich e-mailed that "K.C. was
a real pleasure to coach and a true gentleman on and off the mat."
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- I know you were a wrestling official in the past... are you thinking
about getting back into it at some point?
I would love to when my kids get a little older. I always enjoyed
officiating. Itís a great way to
give back to the sport that has meant so much to me.
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- KC, I want to thank you for sharing your experiences and
me and the westyorkwrestlingalumni.com website readers!
Thank you, Don! I am very humbled and honored to be interviewed, and to
have been a part of the great history of West York Wrestling.
▪ You can
1976 Junior Olympics
Article w/West Yorkers!
AAU Wrestling Trip
(L-R) Bill Webb, Kevin McCleary, Herb Webb,
McCleary, John T. Toggas,
Kevin Hannigan, Paul C. McCleary, Brendt Gladfelter.
'81 AAU Freestyle Nationals
@ Lincoln, Nebraska
(L-R) Medalists - Kevin Hannigan, Todd Kern, Brendt Gladfelter,
WEST YORK VARSITY WRESTLING
1978-79 West York Wrestling Varsity
Front (L-R) Loren Emig,
Joel Pugh, Dave Toggas, Van Emig, John Silar,
K.C. McCleary, Dan Shoemaker.
Back (L-R) Don Botterbusch, Dennis Heath, Alan Silar, Marty Szala,
Mark Younker, Scott Luckenbaugh, Thomas Tallman. (larger
THE '83 MAC'S
1983 Middle Atlantic
Wrestling Championships @ Lycoming College.
▪ Ursinus College's
(right) places 5th - 158lbs.
DIII Hall of Fame Coach ('03)
1989 @ South Western
HS - K.C. McCleary officiating!
West York Wrestling Team
∙ 1st Row (L-R) Edgar Swartz, Gene Wise, Llewellyn Miller, Dale Bahn, Leon
Paul C. McCleary, Lynn
Harbold, Mark Reeves.
2nd Row (L-R) Russell Aldinger, John Bare, Wayne Miller, Elvin Clark, Glenn
Austin Edgington, Richard Barley, David Hoover.
3rd Row (L-R) Nolan Hengst, Donald Becker, Charles Smith, William Zech,
Donald Nace, William Aldinger, Donald Rudisill.
4th Row (L-R) Coach Chuck Richards, Harlan Mummert, Wilbur Klinedinst,
Jack Hayes, Gene Kessler,
for larger '48-'49
McCleary 3rd @ Keystone
8-4-12 - '81 West York and '86 Ursinus Alum,
K.C. McCleary (right)
decisioned Tim Reitz...
3-0, to take the Bronze at the
Congratulations K.C.! All that running around Herman Dr. is paying
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