Former Olympic wrestler, college coach Chertow offers clinic for Sewickley youths

Nathan Smith
| Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 5:57 p.m.

Ken Chertow said the Quaker Valley wrestling community is on the right path.

And if anyone should know, it is him.

Chertow is a former three-time All-American at Penn State, a World Espoir champion, a Pan American Champion and competed for the United States at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He also served on the coaching staffs at Ohio State and Penn State.

“Quaker Valley is growing and getting a lot of kids involved,” Chertow said. “Coach (Jason) Richey invited me out and it went great. They have a lot of dedicated kids here.”

Chertow teaches wrestling more than 300 days a year. After hosting a clinic at Moon High School and in Sewickley with the Quaker Valley Wrestling Association last Monday, he flew to the Pacific Northwest and held camps in Oregon and served as an analyst for Pac-12 Network at the Wyoming at Oregon State dual match.

The clinic in Sewickley had wrestlers from the elementary to high school level and Chertow focused in on techniques that will provide them with success on the mat.

“We try to teach some high-percentage techniques that will not only work at the younger levels but as they progress into the varsity level and into college,” Chertow said. “We try not to just teach them moves but motivate them to make a commitment to the sport and have some fun.”

The Quaker Valley Wrestling Association was founded in October 2012 and began competition in the 2012-2013 season. More than 50 wrestlers between ages 5-12 are on the roster.

While some may think wrestling is a sport for mature athletes, Chertow said it is important to start wrestlers on the right path early.

“Some people think you need to be older, which is absolutely not true,” Chertow said. “You can get little 6 or 7 or 8 year olds involved and they do great. The Quaker Valley coaches are providing a positive environment. Everyone in the community should reach out and try and get involved.”

While the Quaker Valley schools might not have wrestling programs of their own, the work of the Quaker Valley Wrestling Association has led to a co-op with Moon. And with several wrestlers from the area joining the Tigers middle school and varsity programs, an increased interest in the sport likely will continue to develop in the district.

“Both areas are showing a dedication to the sport,” Chertow said. “Moon has some history and is currently rebuilding. Quaker Valley is building from scratch.”

One thing to keep athletes interested in the sport is that wrestling will remain part of the Summer Olympics. The sport nearly was eliminated from the games but won an International Olympic Committee vote against baseball/softball and squash and will return in 2016 and 2020.

Seeing athletes compete on the biggest stage will continue to draw youngsters into the sport, Chertow said.

“It is really important to keep the sport popular worldwide,” Chertow said. “Look at what it did for someone like Kurt Angle and the pride it brought Pittsburgh with him being from Mt. Lebanon. He won college titles but it was winning a gold medal that made him famous. It gives credibility to you from not just the sport but the non-wrestling audience.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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