Playing sports with a disability isn't new, and thanks to advances in science, medicine - and the attitude of the average person toward the disabled - the door has opened for more people to do more when it comes to athletics.
There are basketball players in wheel chairs. There are hockey players on sleds.
Juniata football coach Gary Klingensmith played football and baseball without hearing, and carried his gridiron career to a top-flight NCAA Division I program. He occasionally jokes that it's an asset as a coach, because he can't hear the shouting around him.
But one sport - the world's oldest - is the great equalizer.
It's hard to wrestle when you're in great shape - and you can't carry any extra tools onto the mat with you.
Last year, Penn Cambria's Josh Yarnish proved an inspiration to his team and others because he was born deaf. His only aid was an interpreter in the corner, which was, in a sense, another disability - his coach couldn't instruct him during a match except through the interpreter, and Yarnish could only get the information when he was looking in the right direction.
Indian Valley's Nick Grimm was said by some to be the hardest opponent they would face on the mat - because he arrived one leg shy of the guy across from him, the result of a lawn mower accident in his youth.
Grimm was trained by three-time All-American and former Olympian Ken Chertow, who taught the young grappler to focus not on what he couldn't do, but what he could. The result was a successful career for Grimm, who developed his own moves and technique to control - and often flummox - an opponent.
Saturday, at the District 6 Class AA wrestling championships in Altoona, the darling of the crowd was Glendale heavyweight Tucker Weakland.
Weakland is legally blind.
There are a handful of sports that easily accommodate those who can't see - track, swimming, skiing and bowling are among the most popular. But there are more sports that a person with a visual impairment like Weakland's - he can see only shadows and shapes, and differentiate some colors - have long been shut out of.
Technology has been pioneering in that area, as facilities and balls with built-in sound emitters have opened sports previously not thought possible to the visually impaired.
Weakland proves that raw combat on the mat doesn't require sight - only will, desire and strength.
He electrified the crowd at Altoona Friday night when, as the seventh seed at 285 pounds, he upset United's Ben Mountain, No. 2 in the class. When he pulled off a his second victory of the tournament over Tyrone's Justin Reader to clinch a berth in the Class AA Southwest Regional tournament, the only people not rooting for him were from Tyrone.
Even Reader embraced Weakland when it was over and congratulated his opponent, wishing him well.
Weakland's accomplishments are impressive on their own, but when you take into account the fact that he does not demand enforcement of the Touch Rule - which means he is out of contact with his opponents and has to find them on the mat - it's easy to see why this young wrestler is such an inspiration to those around him.
Like Grimm and Yarnish, he proves that being a successful wrestler is something anyone with enough drive and determination can do.
This weekend it's the District 6 Class AAA tournament, also in Altoona. Mifflin County is one of 10 teams in the event, which sends four wrestlers on to the Class AAA Northwest Regional - again in Altoona - a week later.
The regional will grow a bit after this season, as the PIAA makes changes to the regional system. For 2013-2014, District 4 will become part of the Northwest, moving from the Northeast, which will continue to have Districts 2 and 11, and adds District 12. The Altoona event currently hosts Districts 6, 8, 9 and 10.
District 1 (Southeast) becomes a self-contained regional, while Districts 3 (South Central) and 7 (Southwest) remain as both a district and regional tournament, guaranteeing wrestlers in those areas greater access to the state bracket at Hershey.
District 5 has no Class AAA wrestling.
District 4 brings four schools into the mix - Jersey Shore, Selinsgrove, Shikellamy and Williamsport. Two schools currently in District 6 Class AAA opt into the higher class - Bald Eagle Area and Philipsburg-Osceola. A third, Westmont-Hilltop, is there by virtue of a cooperative agreement but is dropping back to Class AA for the next cycle as its number goes down under new rules for counting co-op population.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at email@example.com.