Hornfeck raising the bar
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Eagle Staff Writer
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January 6, 2018
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Mars senior Alex Hornfeck, in control of his opponent here, recently became the first wrestler in the program’s history to reach the 100-win plateau.

ADAMS TWP — Alex Hornfeck firmly believes his biggest moments on the wrestling mat lie ahead of him, but he’s still managing to make history in the meantime.

In a span of eight days in late December, the Mars senior became the school’s all-time wins leader with 97, then reached the century mark during his run to the 145-pound title at the West Mifflin Tournament.

Steve Perri held the previous Mars standard with 96 victories. Hornfeck now owns a varsity record of 102-15.

“It’s cool to make a name for myself and give younger wrestlers at Mars something to shoot for,” Hornfeck said. “Getting to 100 wins wasn’t on my mind until last year. When I came up as a freshman, I weighed just 100 pounds. I really wasn’t sure how I’d do.”

That unknown turned into a 29-win freshman season at 106 pounds that included a fourth-place effort at the Section 3 Championships and a berth in the Southwest Regional Tournament.

“Back then, he was a real skinny kid,” said Mars coach Jason Wilk of Hornfeck. “He had technique, but was behind on strength.”

That is no longer the case. Work off the mat has helped Hornfeck add punch to go along with his knowledge. He keeps up a demanding routine.

“During the offseason, I lift weights six days every week and run at the park every other day,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of work in with club wrestling with Young Guns (in Murrysville).”

“Alex is doing everything available to him in the offseason,” Wilk said. “He understands that is what he needs to do to be his best. I don’t believe there’s a wrestler in the WPIAL who he can’t beat.”

Hornfeck placed second at sectionals at 113 pounds as a sophomore and won a section title at 126 pounds last year. His approach during bouts has helped him progress consistently.

“Some guys are hesitant on the mat and Alex wasn’t that aggressive early on,” added Wilk, “but he is more comfortable with being the aggressor now. He has a mind-set that no matter who is across from him on the mat, he’s going to wrestle his style. “

“I’m more intense than I used to be and I go after guys,” Hornfeck said. “I don’t like being on the defensive because that means the other kid is pushing the pace.”

Hornfeck is hoping all the work leads to a longer postseason run. He is currently 11-0 this season, including winning at the Hickory Tournament for the third straight year and claiming the recent title at West Mifflin. But he also knows that his season has ended the last three years at the regional tournament, one step shy of states.

“Getting to states is driving everything I’m doing right now. That’s my motivation,” he said. “Winning (regular season) tournaments definitely boosts my confidence, but I know there will be even tougher competition at sectionals and regionals. That’s where the real test will come.”

“His potential is being a state qualifier and placing at states, without a doubt,” said Wilk. “He’s good enough to do it, but there’s a fine line between doing that and falling just short.”