Mikey Bartush easily could have felt some pressure from Greens Farms Academy wrestling coach Jack Conroy once Bucknell University appeared on the senior’s radar as a possible school of choice. After all, the Pennsylvania school is Conroy’s alma mater and the coach, himself a GFA product who graduated in 2007, would have loved to see one of his GFA wrestlers represent his former college.
Instead, though, Bartush fell in love with the school on his own and this fall signed his official National Letter of Intent to wrestle for the Division I Bisons next year.
“Coach Conroy wanted to stay out of it because he wanted it to be my thing,” Bartush said. “He didn’t want to push me to a school just because he went there.”
Through the recruiting process, Bartush found Bucknell to be just right — it's when everything changed.
“It was the timing of everything,” Bartush said. “I went and visited and saw a couple of the guys who were staying there over the summer. I did a tour of the campus and it’s beautiful up there, and I just really connected with them and the coaches. When I met my future teammates, I knew I wanted them to be my teammates.”
After wrestling with the Mad Bulls Wrestling Club out of Norwalk, Bartush joined Conroy’s Southside Wrestling Club in Trumbull—the first step that led to the life-changing decision to become a GFA Dragon.
“It’s obviously made me a pretty good wrestler,” Bartush said. “If I had gone to another school, I have no idea where I would at right now, but I know I definitely wouldn’t be the same person I am today.”
Conroy called Bartush “one of the most improved wrestlers” he has had in his career. He also called him one of the program's most steadfast over the journey of his career.
"He's just a really consistent guy, day in and day out," Conroy said. "He does the right things. He's not a guy who comes in and feels like he has to make up a lot of ground. Every workout, he's right there. He always works hard. He's just that kind of consistent guy."
While Conroy admits he's pleased to have one of his wrestlers going to Bucknell, he knew full well not to inject himself into the process because it was so important for Bartush to find his right choice.
"It's not my choice. It's all about him. It's his life," Conroy said. "I put some pressure on these guys early in their decision-making process to like expand their horizons. But once it gets down to like the nitty-gritty of like really choosing a place, I try to back out completely because they're going to spend four or five years there on their own."
Bartush, like many of his teammates, takes a lot of pride in helping the GFA program grow into the national power is has become—one that produced seven All-Americans last season and two national champions.
“There’s a huge sense of pride in that,” he said.
The school’s impact also changed his family as his twin sister, Autumn, arrived at GFA as a sophomore and she signed a Letter of Intent 24 hours earlier to play at Merrimack.
“I think it was inevitable because of the positive feedback from me going here,” Mikey Bartush said. “I definitely think without GFA, neither of us would have gotten to the level we have.”