Last Updated: Fri Jul 08, 2022 - 3:08AM
Travis McKillop knows all about successful wrestling programs. He competed on the mat at Burrell as the Buccaneers were in the midst of winning 15 consecutive WPIAL team titles. When he continued his career in college, McKillop wrestled for the storied Pitt–Johnstown program. Now, he aims to bring the same winning tradition to Penn-Trafford, as McKillop was hired to lead the Warriors earlier this week.
After serving as an assistant at PT for the past three years, McKillop takes the reins after former head coach AJ Brentzel stepped down earlier in the offseason.
“I’ve got some big goals I want to achieve over a long period of time. This isn’t a short tenure,” said McKillop, a 2011 grad of Burrell. “My goal is to be at the top. It’s to produce the best wrestlers on the mat and the best kids off the mat.”
During his time with the Buccaneers, McKillop learned from his legendary coach, Chris Como, who was inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame in the spring.
“Coach Como, I just know the system he kind of presented to Burrell. He turned that program around in the early 2000s,” McKillop detailed. “He kind of took his coaching style and mixed in his little personal flair with it, and he found success.
“I intend to use coach Como’s theory, combined with coach (Pat) Pecora’s at Pitt Johnstown, and mix in my own personal flair now,” he continued.
Both of those mentors taught McKillop well, as he compiled a record of 163-31 with the Buccaneers, including a pair of WPIAL crowns and a state title in his senior campaign. With the Mountain Cats, McKillop was a four-time All-American, reaching the Division II National Championship bout twice.
“I’ve seen the highest of highs, but I’ve also seen the lowest of lows,” he noted.
McKillop inherits a team that has enjoyed some success, but also competes in a section against some of the top teams in the state annually. In the winter, the Warriors qualified for the WPIAL 3A Tournament, but fell to Greater Latrobe 41-15 in the opening round.
While he noted that grit has been a trademark of the PT program dating back to his high-school days, McKillop knows that he must build winning traits long before his wrestlers reach the varsity level.
“I’m trying to get more involved into the foundation of the program, which is the youth program, funneling into the middle school program, which ultimately will funnel into me,” he said.