They nicknamed him “The Cheetah” — a perfect metaphor for Warren Mantz’s speed, strength and agility as a Peddie athlete, leader and learner. Having never played football before attending Peddie, Warren went out for the 150-pound team as a junior. Within two weeks, he was first-string guard on the varsity. As a senior, he became a stalwart on the offensive and defensive lines of the legendary Fall of 1950 Football Team which has already been inducted into the Peddie Sports Hall of Fame - playing every minute of the Rutgers Prep, Lawrenceville and Hill games.
While everyone saw Warren as a gifted gridder, Phil Lyons ‘51 saw something more. Determined to build a winning wrestling team, Phil invited the classmate he calls “the strongest guy I ever saw” to fill an otherwise vacant heavyweight position and keep Peddie from forfeiting points in that weight class at every meet. Despite zero prior experience on the mat, Warren pounced on the opportunity.
And he did far more than fill a position. In his very first match, Warren faced a seasoned Admiral Farragut opponent who tried to humiliate him by throwing him against the bleachers and bouncing him off the wall. But The Cheetah sprang back to pin his man with only 12 seconds remaining in the final period. He completed his rookie wrestling year with an impressive 8 victories, winning in times as swift as 48 seconds.
As a senior, Warren co-captained with Phil Lyons and tore through the season undefeated — decisioning Blair and St. Benedict’s heavyweights previously considered untouchable. Although he lost in the final match of that year’s national prep championships, Warren joined with Phil in capturing fourth place nationally for the Peddie team - remarkable feat considering that the two of them were the only Peddie wrestlers who traveled to Lehigh for the meet!
Warren Mantz never hesitated to pursue a challenge or tackle a new game. And the same giant hands that grappled so masterfully on the gridiron and the mat also played classical piano with equal power and grace.
A cheetah is a wondrous being indeed.