hey’ve shared the path for eight years. If all goes according to plan, it will take them both to a podium in Pittsburgh two months from now.

But if they don’t get there, it won’t be because either one tried to take a shortcut. Because Stephen Loiseau and Joey Goodhart know that shortcuts didn’t get them this far. Not when they were Lancaster-Lebanon League wrestling stars, and not today, when they are All-America hopefuls at Drexel University.

It’s the last ride for Loiseau (Lancaster Catholic) and Goodhart (Hempfield), both redshirt seniors at Drexel and both nationally ranked in this season’s first NCAA Division I Coaches Panel.

“They have more than answered the call and solidified themselves 

as two of the best upper weights in the nation,” Dragons coach Matt Azevedo said.

Loiseau (14-5) is No.

15 at 197, despite having been sidelined for three weeks. He suffered a muscle injury in his left shoulder at the Tennessee-Chattanooga Southern Scuffle, but expects to return either Friday at Navy or the following week.

“I do about three hours of icing a day,” Loiseau said Thursday. He added that he missed only a week of conditioning, and two weeks on the mat. At the same time, he said, the injury created an opportunity to work on the mind game — an admitted personal challenge in his career, even though he came to Drexel as a PIAA champ.

“It’s like starting over, I think,” he said. “You’re at the bottom of the food chain and every guy was a top guy or a state champion in high school.

… I just had to restart and went back to my roots about planning ahead and making sure I was the hardest worker in the room.”

He sharpened his mat game during a redshirt season in 2016-17, then led the Dragons with a 32-12 mark last year, including an EIWA tournament bronze and an NCAA berth. He entered nationals as a 12 seed, but exited with a 1-2 record.

“I just let a lot of inexperience, anxiety, fear get into my mind,” he said.

“It shut me down and I kind of blew it. It’s such a difference, wrestling in front of a 20,000-plus crowd that’s screaming and chanting.”

This year, Loiseau says his confidence is higher than ever, and his approach has changed as well.

“I’ve just stayed in the moment and just really appreciated everything that’s happening,” he said.

Goodhart, who’s worked out with Loiseau since they were high school sophomores, can vouch for Loiseau’s new mindset. At a teamleading 22-6 with a No. 18 ranking at 285 in the coaches panel, he’s enjoying his best college season.

“The only difference, really, is I’m trying to slow down and enjoy it a little bit more than I have in years past,” he said.

“Trying to appreciate what’s going on and think about it a little bit more.”

Goodhart is a twotime NCAA qualifier, but that didn’t keep him from taking a redshirt last year and spending a lot of time at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He also believes that taking a later redshirt was the right choice.

“I think it was better for me to have a couple years under my belt, just because I knew how important it was,” he said. “Some guys think of it as a year off, but for me, it was probably one of the years I worked the hardest.”

Now Goodhart says he’s better on his feet and staying in attack mode from start to finish. He expects to benefit from a schedule that has included nationally ranked powers like Nebraska, Purdue and North Carolina State. Not that he spends much time studying rankings, understand.

“I feel like I do a lot better,” he said, “when I don’t really pay attention to them.”

At this point in the journey, you might say it helps to separate the meaningful signs from the mere distractions.


 

 Connect with Jeff Young, a former LNP sports editor, at youngjeff212@gmail.com.