Brent Lykens, who serves as the construction services engineer for District 2, wasn't always convinced he'd become an engineer, but he was sure he wanted to pursue a career that played to his strengths in math and science. By the time he graduated high school and began looking at colleges, he was sure of two things -- he did want to become an engineer and he wanted to wrestle.
"It's very demanding both physically and mentally, and the challenges really drew me in," Lykens said of wrestling.
Not only did he face those challenges, he overcame them. In a career on the mat that started in first grade and continued through varsity, Lykens claimed seven Area V PJW titles, two all-area PJW titles, posted a record of 102-17 as a starter for the Clearfield Bison, and captured three district championships at 140, 145, and 152 pounds. He was named Outstanding Wrestler at the District 9 Class AAA Championships in 1990 and secured the Northwest Region Class AAA title at 145 pounds the same year. He was also a two-time PIAA Class AAA State Place winner.
There was no shortage of options available for the aspiring collegiate grappler and engineer. The obvious choice for a Central Pennsylvania native that grew up less than 40 miles from Happy Valley would be Penn State University, but Lykens chose to spread his wings. When he visited West Virginia University in Morgantown, he fell in love with the campus, the town, and the team. His prior friendship with fellow Clearfield Bison wrestling alum Scott Collins, the first Mountaineer to earn a national championship in the wrestling program's history, was certainly a contributing factor. Lykens wrestled for the Mountaineers from 1992 to 1994.
It's been said that coaching isn't a job but a calling, and Lykens answered that call in December 1997 when he agreed to become a volunteer assistant coach for his alma mater. After two years he accepted full-time assistant coaching position with the Bison, a role he still serves in today. In 21 seasons, he's coached a total of 72 District 9 Class AAA champions, 16 Northwest AAA regional champions, 46 PIAA Class AAA Championship qualifiers, 17 PIAA Class AAA place winners, and four PIAA Class AAA state champions. In recognition of his achievements on the mat and the bench, Lykens was inducted into the District 9 Wrestling Hall of Fame on Feb. 23 at the District 9 Wrestling Championship held at Clearfield High School as a wrestler and a coach.
Lykens' PennDOT career also began in December 1997.
After completing the Civil Engineer Trainee program, he worked in the bridge unit from 1999 to 2014. For the last five years, he has served as the construction services engineer for District 2, which supervises the geotechnical/materials and finals unit, constructability and scheduling, local projects portfolio, and the Potters Mills Gap construction project. Lykens received his longevity award for 20 years in 2017.
After a lifetime of wrestling achievements under his belt, Lykens sometimes considers stepping away. But when the season gets underway he starts bumping into old rivals, former pupils and colleagues, and he catches the bug all over again.
"I've worked with some great wrestlers and coaches over the years, and those are lifetime relationships you form. It's hard to walk away."