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PHILADELPHIA— Wrestlers at the National Wrestling Coaches Association compete before the honorary coaches are announced in Philadelphia, Nov. 1, 2014.The Division I National Duals is held annually with the best wrestlers from all over the country.

Photo by Cpl. Elizabeth Thurston

Harrisburg Marines up to the challenge at NWCA wrestling tournament

7 Nov 2014 | Cpl. Elizabeth Thurston 1st Marine Corps District

PHILADELPHIA -- Marines with Recruiting Station Harrisburg attended the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic at The Palestra in Philadelphia, Nov.  1, 2014 to support wrestlers at the event.

The Marines attended the event as a way to give back to the community by instilling motivation in the attendees and athletes.

“The Marine Corps is my family so I feel right at home. It’s always great to be around Marines because I know what Marines stand for,” said retired Col. Tom Manion, an honorary guest at the event. “The excellence they bring to what they do and how proud of whom they are.”

Manion was at the event on behalf of the Travis Manion Foundation, which is named after his son, 1st. Lt. Travis Manion, who made the ultimate sacrifice April 2007.

“Although my son’s Marine Corps career was only three short years, he made a great impact,” Manion said.

Manion spoke about his transition from the Marine Corps and the start of the Travis Manion Foundation and its correlation to the Marine Corps and Travis’ love for wrestling.

“With my son, the early days of his leadership started on the wrestling mat, and then the Marine Corps for him, (both were) a passion (to him),” Manion said. “The Marine Corps was everything to him, the teamwork, the hard work, everything really correlates well with wrestling and he brought that to the table.”

On site Sgt. Nelson Andrade, a recruiter with Recruiting Station Harrisburg, was able to talk about some of those traits and standards that Marines live by as well as motivating participants in the tournament with the chin-up challenge.

“With anyone, regardless of what route they choose in life, if they could at least apply the values and skills that we require as Marines, then they could be not just someone that excels individually, but inspires others to do the same,” Andrade said.

Andrade’s words inspired others to take the challenge and test themselves in spirited competition with one another.

 “With my students, if there is anything that presents a challenge, they want to give it a try, they want to overcome that challenge, whether they win it or learn something from it” said Justin Finn, head wrestling coach for Universal Daroff Charter School.

Even though the wrestlers’ victories were the highlight of the tournament, the influence and presence of the Marines also left a lasting impression on those who took up the challenge.

“If you ever ask one of my students who the men and women are in the dress blues they’ll tell you those are the Marines, they know exactly who they are and what they do for this country,” said Finn.  “A lot of these kids emulate the Marines, not only for what they do in a time of war, but for what they come back and do for the community.”