Quaker Valley youth wrestlers win multiple championships
In only its second year of existence, Quaker Valley Youth Wrestling has asserted itself as one of the top programs in the state.
The team won its second straight conference championship as well as the Western Pennsylvania Novice Championship.
Quaker Valley won the Western Athletic Wrestling Association Conference Championship at Moon High School on Feb. 16. The WAWA Conference consists of 22 clubs in Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
Quaker Valley wrestling has approximately 50 wrestlers between ages 5 and 12 but only has two wrestlers on the team (Jack Kazalas and Justin Richey) with more than two full years of experience, which made the accomplishment that much more impressive.
Quaker Valley won the WAWA championship based on a percentage of the total amount of points scored by the team vs. the number of wrestlers that entered the tournament. Points were awarded for each wrestler that placed.
Quaker Valley also finished second in total points behind perennial power West Allegheny.
“With this unprecedented back-to-back championship, we have laid the foundation for a fantastic future our program and the future of wrestling in Quaker Valley for years to come,” coach Jason Richey said. “I do not think any of us expected this much success so quickly. I am very proud of the boys for all of their hard work and effort.”
Quaker Valley entered 20 wrestlers into the WAWA Open and 18 placed. Justin Richey, Hamilton Hope, Bruce Anderchak, Ziggy McIntosh and Damion Eskew were champions. Runners-up included Braeden Steffey, Logan Richey, Jack Kazalas, Sebestian Juarez Safran and Sean Mariner. Elijah Faulkner, Khyvon Grace and Tommaso Floro were third, and Westin Grant, Grant Castaldo, Owen Petronik, Jakub Pickett and Jack Diemert took fourth.
Quaker Valley also had a number of wrestlers enter the WAWA Novice for first- and second-year wrestlers. Bobby Patterson and Michael Carmody took first. Marcus Richey, Matthew Stehnach and Nick Allen were second. Nick Merriman was third, and Jackson Quigley, Alexander Quigley, Nathan Pribik and Sam Brackney took fourth.
Western PA Novice
On Feb. 16, Quaker Valley wrestling was crowned Western Pennsylvania Novice team champions at Penn State New Kensington. The group of first- and second-year wrestlers competed at Penn State against many of the region's best young wrestlers.
“These young kids are dedicated to improving week after week. I'm still amazed at how far they've come in such a short time. This group will be a force to contend with as they get bigger, older and stronger,” Richey said. “Quaker Valley is definitely on the map in the Pennsylvania wrestling world, and the sky is the limit as we have some of the best young wrestlers going.”
Quaker Valley place winners were Bruce Anderchak, Christian Brown, Jack Diemert, Logan Richey, Braeden Steffey, Jakub Pickett, Tommaso Floro, Marcus Richey, Elijah Faulkner, Mason Steffey and Nick Merriman in first place; Hamilton Hope, Nick Allan, Marcus Richey, Zion McIntosh, Jack Diemert, Logan Richey and Owen Petronick in second; Michael Carmody, Alexander Quigley, Kyvone Grace, Gavin Eshenbaugh, Weston Grant and Sean Mariner in third; and Eoin Parnell, Alexander Quigley, Grant Castaldo, Mathew Stehnach, Bobby Patterson and Dion McInstosh in fourth.
On March 1, Quaker Valley seventh-grade wrestler, John Rocco Kazalas, took sixth place at the Pennsylvania Junior High State Championships at Hempfield Area High School. Kazalas qualified for the state tournament by taking first place the Area 7 championship held at Bethel Park High School the previous week.
Kazalas was initially given a bye in the first round of the 32-man bracket at his 82-pound weight class. Kazalas then took on Noah Fuchs from Reynolds in the second round. The two wrestlers maintained a scoreless match through overtime, forcing a 30-second sudden death period where Kazalas rode out his opponent for the win. Kazalas then moved onto the round of eight where he pinned Tyler Mahood of Warren in 2:51 with a suicide cradle and moved on to the semifinals.
Kazalas then ended the tournament by losing to Jaret Lane of Southern Columbia, JJ Wilson of Cedar Cliff and Ian Scarberry of Shaler to place sixth.
Last year, Kazalas finished as the MVP of the then-new Quaker Valley Youth Wrestling team and now wrestles in middle school as part of the Quaker Valley/Moon co-op.
“What JR has accomplished is nothing less than incredible,” Richey said. “Pennsylvania is the best state in the country for wrestling and to not only advance to the state tournament but place is a fantastic result. JR has raised the QV wrestling flag high in this state and he will be a true leader and example for our Quaker Valley middle and high school wrestlers in the coming years as we continue to grow our program.”
For more information on Quaker Valley wrestling, visit quakervalleywrestling.com.