McDowell wrestler Logan Sallot knew his former coach, Dave Onorato, had qualified for three NCAA Division I tournaments while competing for West Virginia University.
He also knew former Edinboro University of Pennnsylvania coach Tim Flynn now coaches the Mountaineers.
Sallot, though, insisted the coaches’ similar backgrounds with that program weren’t why he verbally committed to enroll and compete at WVU. The lightweight for the Trojans made his announcement Tuesday on Twitter.
It was this past weekend’s official visit to Morgantown that led to Sallot’s decision.
“I knew it was definitely the place for me as soon as I got down there,” he said. “They were really welcoming, the team and the staff. The campus is nice and it all really felt like home the whole time.”
Sallot also received Division I interest from Buffalo and Arizona State.
West Virginia, though, will officially be Sallot’s college of choice once he signs a national letter of intent, which could be as soon as Nov. 9.
“When he went on that recruiting trip (last weekend), I told him, ‘Enjoy the fruits of your labor,’” Onorato said. “He was one of if not the hardest-working kid I had in all the years I’ve coached and the places I’ve been. His work ethic is outstanding. He was pretty much the last one out of the room all the time.”
Onorato won’t coach Sallot or his teammates this winter. The 1987 McDowell graduate said family issues led him to resign earlier this year after three seasons at his alma mater.
Onorato, whose late father, Ed Onorato, was a 2004 inductee in the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame’s Metropolitan Erie chapter, went 58-8 over the two seasons he wrestled as a Trojan. He also qualified for the PIAA Class 3A tournament each year.
Dave Onorato’s wrestling career continued at West Virginia, where he qualified as a 158-pounder in the Division I meet from 1990-92.
Sallot’s first extended meeting with Flynn happened more than a year ago, when he attended a recruitment camp at Morgantown. However, he wasn’t the first member of his family who got to know the Mountaineers’ fifth-year coach.
Mark Sallot, Logan’s cousin, and his son, Sam Sallot, occasionally crossed paths with Flynn during his time with Edinboro’s wrestling staff. The former Penn State wrestler was a five-year assistant for the Fighting Scots before he was promoted to coach in 1997, when Bruce Baumgartner took over as the school’s athletic director.
Flynn left Edinboro in 2018 to accept the same position at West Virginia.
Sallot said he felt a temporary wave of relief with his decision. Now, he won’t have to agonize over his immediate future, for college and wrestling, throughout his final season at McDowell.
That void, though, was filled with another kind of angst.
“People are going to expect me to win a lot more since I’m going to be competing at (the Division I) level,” Sallot said. “But I like knowing that’s going to come along with it. Knowing that I’m going to have to prove myself.”
Sallot’s three-season record is 54-21. His career, like so many others’, has been hindered by COVID-19, which forced the abbreviation of the Trojans’ 2020-21 wrestling season. His record as a sophomore was 9-4.
There’s also McDowell’s status as a big-school program. Sallot has not won a District 10 3A tournament and has reached the PIAA meet once.
“If you’re placing (at states), people are going to know who you are,” Onorato said. “That’s why he’s still got lots of work to do this year. He’s got to get on that (medal) stand.”
Sallot, who plans to major in pre-medicine, could be the second McDowell graduate on the West Virginia wrestling roster when he officially enrolls.
Former Trojan Jeffrey Boyd is listed as a redshirt junior for the 2022-23 Mountaineers. The 149-pounder, a 2018 PIAA 3A gold medalist, will take a 23-25 record into his latest season with the Big 12 Conference member.
Contact Mike Copper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ETNcopper.