MOUNT CARMEL — Nine years ago, Damon Backes’ first-grade teacher at Shamokin Area told his mom, Renay, that he was too hyper. The teacher suggested she sign Damon up for wrestling.

She took the suggestion, and it couldn’t have worked out any better for Backes. He wrestled at Shamokin through ninth grade. In eighth grade, he qualified for the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling state tournament and won the Tournament of Champions.

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