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By Mike Finn
Blair Academy coach Jeff Buxton said he is reluctant to add a senior-to-be to his talented program for just that one season.
“We usually don’t do that,” said Buxton, who has been named head coach at the New Jersey prep school in 1982 and has produced over 30 National Prep champs. “I was worried about was taking a kid out of a good high school program and then putting him in our program. It doesn’t look good.”
Ed Ruth is glad Buxton made an exception for the former two-time PIAA place-winner from Susquehanna Township in Harrisburg, Pa., before he earned All-American honors in his one season (2008-09) season at Blair.
During that season, he also won both the Ironman and NHSCA Senior Nationals with impressive wins over current Iowa Hawkeye Ethan Lofthouse.
“At Susquehanna, I wasn’t getting the training that I eventually got at Blair,” said Ruth, who also found a coach in Buxton who called Ruth “one of the best athletes that I have ever coached.
“He had some good basics, good fundamentals,” Buxton said. “The one thing he did not have was people trying to put things together for him on a daily basis. We tried to give him game plans to work on plus daily workout partners who pushed him every day.
“Coming to Blair was a great thing for him. It taught him how to be a college wrestler, how to prepare for the classroom each day … and going through the grind of that type of season.”
In turn, Ruth used his Blair-taught skills to quickly adjust to the pressures of competing at Penn State, where as a redshirt freshman the 174-pounder has moved into the No. 1 spot in WIN’s national rankings after he stunned both previously-top-ranked Mack Lewnes of Cornell and No. 2 Chris Henrich of Virginia in the Southern Scuffle, Dec. 30, in Greensboro, N.C.
“Ed has uncanny balance and unbelievable strength,” said Buxton. “I think you saw that strength against Lewnes where (Lewnes was) able to do those kickovers against other people and Ed was able to hold onto his ankles or his legs. The other thing he has that makes him an even better athlete is that he has a huge gas tank and can wrestle all day.”
“On a skill level, I wasn’t sure where I fell,” said Ruth, who is one of four freshmen in the Penn State starting line-up, which is now considered the biggest threat to topping No. 1 Cornell after the Lions tied the Big Red in the final team standings at the Southern Scuffle.
But now that the Lions and Ruth, specifically, have the target on their backs, the redshirt freshman does not feel any more pressure.
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