The pandemic caused havoc for a lot of wrestlers.
Not for Sean O’Toole.
O’Toole is a rising senior at Archbishop Ryan High School, and when the world was shut down for coronavirus, it was pretty hard for wrestlers to find a place to work out.
It’s hard enough to find a spot to roll around during the summer as it is, but when gyms and schools weren’t opened, wrestlers were stuck at home
And that was the perfect spot for O’Toole.
“I didn’t take a break at all, I never stopped,” said O’Toole, who wrestles at 120 pounds for the Raiders. “”I have a wrestling room in my basement, so I invited people over and worked out with them. Anyone who wanted to come was welcome. Teammates, alumni. We just went in my basement, had music going and rolled around for two hours.
“My dad was really invested in our wrestling so he made the move. He spent a lot of money, too, and we never really used it until quarantine. I needed to get on the mat, I didn’t want to get rusty. He made it for that reason and when quarantine hit, it was great. It was my best friend during that time.”
The room turned out to be quite the blessing.
This year, O’Toole was one of the top wrestlers in the Catholic League, finishing his season 20-2. He was one of the leaders of a team that went to the state playoffs.
He didn’t accomplish everything he wanted to, but it definitely put him right where he wants to be heading into his senior year.
“My goal is to make states, place or even win it,” O’Toole said. “We have a solid young team coming into next year. We are looking pretty good to do well there. Hopefully win the PCL. We had a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. We got good experience. We lost by nine points (in the state playoffs), they want it next year.”
O’Toole is excited for the future, and he got better because of the past.
O’Toole’s top workout partner was his brother Liam, who graduated from the school last year. Prior to that, he was a top wrestler who advanced to Hershey in his senior year.
He not only provided the perfect role model for his younger brother, he helped him on the mat.
“Liam would always beat me up, but he made me so much better,” O’Toole said. “We were always close, but we got a lot closer when I got to high school. I would get mad when he would beat me up (in wrestling), but now that I see why he did it, I know he was only trying to help me get better.
“I work out with him a lot and it helps. He’s a lot bigger, so if I can wrestle with him, I can wrestle with guys my size. He really helped make me better.
“When he made states, it was great. You just see what a great experience it is. That’s what really made me want to make it to states. Pennsylvania is a great wrestling state, so if you can get there, you’re good. I want to get there and possibly place. I would love to be the first from the school to win (a state championship).”
This summer, O’Toole is getting more work in with wrestlers who are among the best around.
He’s been doing freestyle tournaments all over, and he’s headed to Fargo, North Dakota, for a prestigious tournament.
“I’m looking forward to that because at that camp, I’ll be going against the best,” O’Toole said. “I know I’m going to get beat up. I love that. You learn a lot more when you wrestle guys who are better than you than when you wrestle guys who aren’t as good.
“I love wrestling freestyle. It helps you so much. Freestyle is mainly on your feet. You can throw people, and you have to get right back on your feet. It’s going to help me so much with my high school wrestling. I enjoy both, I love folk style, but freestyle, you’re free to do more. I enjoy it because I’m pretty good at it.”
Fargo is the next trip for O’Toole, but he’s been putting in a lot of mileage this summer. He’s wrestled throughout Pennsylvania, and also has spent time wrestling in Florida and South Carolina.
“I love traveing, not just for the wrestling, but because I love seeing places,” O’Toole said. “We’ve been to a lot of places. It’s fun to travel around.”
He hopes to see Hershey in March after a successful high school season. He also hopes he earns a chance to wrestle in college, where he’d like to be an architectural engineer.
“I do pretty well in school. I like planning and plotting things out,” said O’Toole, who does well in the classroom, too. “I always draw things when I have free time. I would build Legos, map things out. It just seems like a cool job.”
And as O’Toole has proven, he’s not afraid to get down to work, especially when he’s on the mat.
“Last summer helped me and I think this summer will help me a lot, too,” O’Toole said. “I’m learning a lot from wrestling and it will help me. It should put me in position to have a great year.”