by Tom Utescher
At the start of the NCAA’s winter signing period, wrestler Evan Botwin inked an agreement to accept an athletic scholarship to North Carolina’s Duke University.

With his parents at his side, wrestler Evan Botwin celebrates his acceptance of an athletic scholarship to Duke University.

However, before ultimately deciding to head south, the Chestnut Hill native first traveled north. After attending Penn Charter up through the ninth grade, he transferred to Wyoming Seminary in Wilkes Barre, Pa. There he became part of a nationally prominent wrestling team that travels to elite tournaments up and down the eastern seaboard and as far away as Wisconsin.

Several Ivy League schools had joined Duke on Botwin’s “A” list of college choices.

It was impossible to go wrong with any of them academically, but the grappler explained, “When I visited Duke they really made me feel at home, like it was a place I belonged.”

Botwin noted that longtime Blue Devils mentor Clar Anderson recently added a dynamic new assistant to the coaching staff, former Oklahoma State All-American Glen Lanham.

In the classroom, the Hill resident has always done well in math, and he enjoys foreign language courses, as well, currently participating in an AP Spanish class at Wyoming Seminary.

The wrestling bug bit Botwin early on, when he joined the youth program of the Philadelphia Police Athletic League at the age of five. He complied a PAL record of 634 career victories, winning the PA. Junior State Championship in 2008.

He was on the middle school team at Penn Charter, where his coach praised his broad repertoire of moves and said that he picked opponents apart “like a surgeon.”

In his freshman year he wrestled at 103 lbs. for the PC varsity and performed at the same weight when he moved to Wyoming Seminary (familiarly known as “Sem”) the following year. He progressed to the 112 lb. class the next season, and this winter he competed in the newly-created 120 lb. category. He was a varsity letter winner in each of his three years with the Blue Knights, winning two PA. Independent School championships and helping “Sem” continue its streak of state team championships, with five straight titles.

He’s still in touch with many of his former classmates at Penn Charter (one of them, pitcher Kenny Koplove, has also signed with Duke), but he feels he made the right move in switching to “Sem.”

“It was the right environment for what I was trying to accomplish,” he said.

As a senior he was a team co-captain, and was ranked 17th in the nation at 120 lbs. He said there’s a move afoot to strengthen the lighter weight classes in the program at Duke, where he is expected to wrestle at 125 lbs. He intends to add those extra pounds in muscle, following a rigorous weight lifting program in addition to his training on the mat.

“They’re bringing in some other recruits in the lighter weights,” Botwin noted. “I already have their off-season training program, so I’ll be working hard because I hope to make an impact right away.”