When Jason Richey formed the Quaker Valley youth wrestling program, he envisioned a group of 15 kids and a slow rise to prominence in the area.
But in its second year, the team has expanded to 60 wrestlers and has become a regular place winner at tournaments across the area.
“Our first year we had 44 kids,” Richey said. “I would have never guessed in a million years we would have numbers like this. It is shocking.”
The program isn't just producing big numbers but big talent. Wrestlers from the Quakers Valley Youth Wrestling have taken first place in tournaments at Burgettstown, Chartiers Valley, Hopewell, Mars, Moon, North Allegheny and South Side Beaver through the first half of this season.
The team won the Western Area Wrestling Association Conference Tournament — an event that hosts 21 other teams — in its first year and is looking for a repeat this season.
“A traveling trophy goes around to whoever wins the tournament,” Richey said. “We're hoping to hold onto it. Our other goal is to get the first Quaker Valley wrestler to the state championships in Hershey.”
Richey said the popularity in the group has come mostly through word of mouth of the positive atmosphere of the program.
“The individual nature of the sport can teach life lessons,” Richey said. “You can't point a finger at someone in wrestling when you lose. When you lose in wrestling, it can be horrendous. But you learn to pick yourself up. It helps develop strong boys both mentally and physically.”
While the success at the youth level is exciting, there is a bigger goal in mind — fielding a middle school and varsity program. Quaker Valley currently has a co-op in wrestling with Moon with 10 wrestlers taking to the mat as Tigers. Richey is hopeful the QV teams will be able to start taking form in 2015.
With the youth program instilling a drive for success in place, wrestling at Quaker Valley will look to continue to grow.
“The youth team will continue to be a feeder program,” Richey said. “We have a large number of 10-year-olds right now. Once they get up through the system and are followed by our 8- and 9-year olds, I believe we will be a force to reckoned with in the WPIAL.”
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