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Wrestling's Lyneil Mitchell '03, '05, '07 joins Hall of Fame

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LONG BEACH, Calif. — Lyneil Mitchell ’03 ’05 ’07 has come full circle — again.

The 1998 Butler graduate went from not understanding the sport of wrestling to becoming the Golden Tornado’s first-ever section champion, WPIAL runner-up and state qualifier.

He went from not believing he’d ever win on the mat at Gannon University to competing for an NCAA Division II national championship.

Now Mitchell will be entering his third Hall of Fame. He is among the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 and will be inducted during the organization’s annual banquet at 6 p.m. April 13 at the Butler Days Inn.

Mitchell is already a member of the Butler Area School District Athletic Hall of Fame and Gannon Athletic Hall of Fame.

“This is so surreal for me,” Mitchell said. “These inductions remind me where I came from, of my struggles, of what I’ve accomplished.

“It feels good that this is the third time I’m being recognized for all the hard work I’ve put in.”

While the bulk of his athletic success has come in wrestling. Mitchell admitted that baseball was his sport of choice growing up in Butler.

He also played fullback and linebacker on the Golden Tornado football team.

“I loved baseball as a kid,” Mitchell said. “I hit two home runs in one inning during a Legion game at Pullman Park. Not many people know that.”

He credited longtime Butler wrestling coach Scott Stoner for convincing him to embrace challenges and work hard to achieve big things.

“Coach Stoner was the first person who really pushed me in that direction,” Mitchell said. “He was a new coach in the (Butler) district at the time and wrestling was a fairly new sport at the school.

“Our program at Butler was so young when I was there ... We didn’t know what wrestling was. I had no perspective on the sport. I always thought wrestling was all about turn-buckles and the WWF.”

Mitchell wound up going 77-19 in his high school career, winning two section titles and reaching the WPIAL Finals as a senior. He became the first Butler wrestler to win 30 matches in a season.

“It was hard to get a scholarship in wrestling and I was really interested in Gannon,” Mitchell said. “(Gannon) Coach Don Henry told me he couldn’t offer me anything if I didn’t at least get to states. That was on my mind my whole senior year. I had to get there.”

Once he got to Gannon, Mitchell struggled to make the transition from high school to collegiate wrestler.

“I was just happy to be there,” he recalled. “I didn’t think I’d be able to win. I figured I’d do nothing but lose during my college career and I didn’t know how to deal with that.”

Mitchell’s record after his first two seasons at Gannon was a mediocre 36-28. He had won his weight class in only one tournament during his freshman and sophomore years.

Then a conversation with a couple of upperclassmen teammates following a workout changed his perspective.

“They said if I didn’t make All-American before I graduated, I should be disappointed in my career,” Mitchell said. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,. I was like, ‘What?’ But those guys got me to challenge myself and improve.”

Mitchell went 33-2 his junior year, was unbeaten in dual meets, won three tournaments and finished second at the Division II National Championships.

He then finished 29-2 as a senior, won four tournaments — including the Division II Eastern Region — and placed third at nationals. Mitchell was named Pennsylvania Division II Wrestler of the Year.

“Wrestling taught me so much,” he said. “I love to have my character tested and that sport tests your character every day.

“It taught me how to overcome struggles and continually challenge myself.”

Mitchell went into business for himself in physical therapy, opening Revolution Physical Therapy in Cranberry. He also had a location in Butler.

Mitchell wound up working with numerous NFL players, a couple of Olympic medalists and some WWE professional wrestlers over his nine-year run with the business.

He and his family moved to California late last fall as Mitchell originally took a job as a physical trainer in the Alliance of American Football League.

Before that league suspended operations recently, Mitchell resigned his position and is now partners with another physical therapist, building a new company in California.

“The AAF opportunity wasn’t what I thought it would be,” Mitchell said. “I thought we were going to do great things, change the world.

“Land on my feet? I’m always off of my feet. You deal with struggles in life. I’ve learned how to handle them.”

Tickets for the banquet are $40 in advance and are available at Moses Jewelers at the Clearview Mall, Butler Radio Network on Pillow St., Parker Appliance in Chicora, Snack n Pack in Butler and Saxonburg Drug. Tickets will be $45 at the door.


Posted by Michael Gorski at 07/29/2021 04:26:10 PM | 

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