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Pennsylvania high school coach Lovello passes

Sam Lovello, Pennsylvania high school wrestling coach who accumulated over 500 wins in 39 seasons, died early Sunday. He was 69.

Sam Lovello
Lovello, who built a 533-226-3 record in 37 seasons at Brandywine Heights High School and two at Wilson, was only the sixth high school wrestling coach in the Keystone State to exceed 500 victories.

The Reading (Pa.) High School graduate also coached two PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association) Class AA champions and led the Brandywine Heights Bullets to the PIAA Class AA team title at the 2001 PIAA Wrestling Championships.

"The wrestling world is sadder today after losing one of the giants in our sport at the high school ranks. Sam Lovello, the longtime head coach of Brandywine Heights died early this morning," according to a post at the Berks County Wrestling Facebook page.

At a February 2013 tribute to celebrate Lovello's 500th win -- and the 50th year of Bullet wrestling at Brandywine Heights -- the coach told the Reading Eagle, "I love seeing these kids. It's any coach's dream when kids come back to see them. Any good coach gets attached to his kids. I'm attached to all these kids."

At that same reception three years ago, Brandywine Heights assistant coach Steve Adam said,
"He hasn't changed; he's always the same person. It's always fun coaching with him. He has so much knowledge and his memory is amazing."

Lovello had been welcomed into a number of wrestling halls of fame, including the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1999, and, in 2013, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Tom Elling, an NCAA All-American for Lock Haven and author of "PA Wrestling Handbook" who now shares his insights into the sport in the Keystone State with his Pennsylvania Wrestling website http://pawrsl.com, shared his thoughts on Lovello with InterMat.

"Probably the most recent 'name' wrestler who learned from Coach Lovello would be NC State's Peter Renda. Pete was a 4-time PIAA placer, winning his state title at 179 pounds in 2013. Kyle Kemmerer was his first state champion, winning the 112-pound title in 2003. Sam's son Joey was a three-time placer for his dad."

"Sam was a man of character and was always very humble and gracious," Elling added. "His wrestlers truly loved and respected him.

"I know I'll miss his easy smile at the 2017 PIAA State Tournament."

Funeral arrangements had yet to be announced as of Monday evening.

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