Anthony Marks and his Montour High School teammates were in Florida at a season-opening baseball tournament at the end of March last year when he received a call from home.
He was told his father, Kenny, was on life support after complications from a blood infection.
"It was the roughest thing I've ever had to deal with," said Marks, who immediately caught a flight back home to Kennedy Township. "I wasn't even sure he would be alive when I got home."
His father's medical problems had begun earlier that month.
"A week after the WPIAL wrestling tournament he had bleeding on the brain," said Marks, a senior. "It got worse while I was in Florida. Fortunately, his condition improved after I got back, but it took a long time. He was in the hospital from the beginning of March until the end of July."
Marks decided to dedicate his senior year to his father.
"I do everything for him," said Marks of his father, a Vietnam War veteran. "He's a perfect role model and a great father."
He is out of the hospital, but hasn't completely recovered.
"Dad is walking with a cane and is not allowed to drive, so coach allows him to ride on the bus with us to away matches," Marks said. "It's so great to have him at every match. He loves watching the team and cheers for everybody."
Marks is a four-year starter who has qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA championships twice.
"Anthony is in a weight class that is wide open," said Montour coach Jason Bombardier, referring to the 138-pound weight class. "He started the season at 145 and recently moved down. It was a bit tough for him to get down at first, but the 2-pound weight allowance we received on Jan. 15 makes it a little easier for him."
Marks broke into Montour's starting lineup as a 130-pound freshman and posted a 14-15 record. He moved up to 135 for his sophomore year and had a 24-13 mark, which included a fourth-place finish in Section 5-AAA and a 1-2 record in the WPIAL Class AAA tournament.
Last season, Marks moved to the 140-pound weight class and Montour moved to Section 4-AAA. Marks placed second in the section, had a 2-2 record in his return trip to the WPIAL tournament, and finished with a 34-8 record.
"One of my goals is to be Montour's second wrestler to win 100 matches," Marks said. "I also want to break the school record of 106."
Marks entered the week with a 22-4 record, which gives him a career mark of 94-40. The school record is held by 2009 graduate Petros Georgalis.
"Petros was a senior during my freshman year, so I'm very familiar with the record," Marks said. "Petros was also a PIAA place-winner [eighth at 189] that year."
Georgalis is Montour's only PIAA place-winner. Marks would like to be the second.
"We have three dual meets and the Montour Duals left on our regular-season schedule," Bombardier said. "That's a total of eight matches with five coming in our tournament. If Anthony can win all eight, he would have 102 wins going into the postseason."
Two of Marks' four losses this season came at the Allegheny County tournament. He advanced to the 138-pound semifinals before dropping a 3-2 decision to Plum's John Marotto, the eventual champion. His other loss, also by a 3-2 score, was to Central Catholic's Chris Nuss in the third-place consolation.
Marks also lost to Freedom's Boe Bonzo in the title match at the MAC tournament, and to Canon-McMillan's Sammy Minor in a dual meet.
"Anthony is also a very accomplished baseball player," Bombardier said.
"I started in center field and hit leadoff last year," Marks said. "I also started as a sophomore."
Marks would like to continue his athletic career in college, but hasn't decided in which sport he will compete.
"If I had to pick, I would probably choose baseball, but I'm also considering playing both sports," Marks said. "I've been talking to the coaches at W&J. I'm also considering other options."
First Published January 26, 2012 5:00 AM