McKeesport wrestlers growing in numbers
After taking over a wrestling program that suffered from low turnout, McKeesport coach Adam Alfer is starting to see numbers grow and results on the mat.
Four seasons ago, Alfer inherited a program with seven wrestlers. Now, with a junior high program developed, the Tigers have grown to 26 wrestlers for this season.
The program's growth has started to pay dividends as the Tigers come off an 8-5 season, the most matches the program has won in the past decade.
After losing Zach Argyle, who finished third last season at 126 pounds at the Allegheny County Tournament, Alfer looks to continue McKeesport's upward swing.
“We are just working hard in the mat room,” Alfer said. “My coaches and I have been focusing on certain things with each wrestler that they need improvement on. We have a lot of fighters who want to learn and be a lot better.”
The top returning wrestlers are young as the program continues to grow. Junior Kevin Stalter, the team captain, will wrestle at the 120-pound weight class.
Stalter, who finished 19-14 last year, placed third in the section tournament to reach the WPIALs and sixth in the county tournament.
Alfer will be looking for big things from two other wrestlers. Junior 138-pounder Brandon Ingram and sophomore 126-pounder Cameron Zuber placed fifth and eighth, respectively, at the county tournament.
“The kids are busting their butt in the mat room,” Alfer said. “They are eager to learn and improving every day.”
The Tigers finished 2-3 last season in a tough Section 1-AAA, featuring section champion Franklin Regional and Kiski Area. The competition won't deter the Tigers from focusing on the growth of individual wrestlers.
“Each of the kids have individual goals set and they will fight and not quit or lay down for anyone,” Alfer said. “I have some that are inexperienced. We are a fairly young team. I'm looking to get some of the wrestlers into the postseason.
“We are looking for a strong team season and record.”
In the first tournament of the season, Zuber and Ingram placed fourth in the 132- and 145-pound weight classes, respectively, at the Eastern Area Tournament.
Alfer fears the injury bug might have bitten the Tigers. Sophomore heavyweight David Orosz suffered a shoulder injury.
Andrew John is a freelance writer.