5 champions lift Quaker Valley to MAC tournament title

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Sunday, January 16, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Quaker Valley dominated the 16-team field at this year’s Ed Driscoll MAC wrestling tournament.

The Quakers took first place with 223 team points, well ahead of their closest challengers, West Allegheny (176), Laurel (169.5), Montour (162) and Central Valley (98).

It was QV’s first team championship in the MAC event.

“The team wrestled really well,” QV coach Mike Heinl said. “The coaches were happy with their performance. We noticed some problems with our wrestlers getting out on bottom and started making some adjustments (this week).”

The Quakers dominated early and late in the annual tourney, which took place Jan. 8 at Ambridge.

QV sophomores Isaac Maccaglia (106) and Jack Kazalas (113) and junior Logan Richey (120) were titlists in the lower weight divisions, while seniors Mason Diemert (172) and Patrick Cutchember (189) were victorious in the upper weights.

Maccaglia, Kazalas and Cutchember secured falls in the championship round. Richey and Diemert won their titles by 8-1 and 8-4 scores.

“Patrick wrestled well against Central Valley’s sophomore standout Brennan Morgan in the finals,” Heinl said. “Patrick is approaching 100 (career) pins, which is not very common. There have been less than 20 wrestlers in state history to accomplish this.

“Mason had a big come-from-behind win in the finals against Montour. Logan, Jack and Isaac also won some big matches in the finals.”

Maccaglia and Cutchember picked up three pins in the tournament. Kazalas logged two pins and a technical fall.

QV junior Brandon Krul, a transfer from Mars, finished as the 126-pound runner-up. Junior Michael Carmody (132) and senior Justin Richey (160) corralled third-place finishes via pins. Sophomore Nicholas Allan (138) also advanced to the quarterfinals.

Cutchember recorded his 100th career victory Dec. 11 at the Hampton Dawg Duals. It’s all been a process for him; Cutchember has his focus on a state crown this season.

“It was a good accomplishment,” he said, “but I have bigger goals to accomplish this season. I’ve been working on my situational awareness as well as my shooting.”

QV’s all-time wins leader is 2019 graduate J.R. Kazalas with 134. Cutchember recently moved into second place, passing Conner Redinger, a PIAA medalist who ended his career with 112.

A Clarion recruit, Cutchember excels in wrestling, football and lacrosse and is the reigning WPIAL Class 2A 189-pound champion. He placed fourth at the heralded Powerade Tournament in late-December.

Quaker Valley started off the new year by rolling past Carlynton, 48-16, to improve to 3-0 in Section 2B and 10-3 overall.

“Based on what I am observing in the practice room, this team is hungry,” Heinl said. “We are excited to see how this plays out in the team playoffs.”

QV preps for the postseason by tackling a rigorous regular-season schedule. The Quakers’ losses were to Class 3A opponents Norwin, Connellsville and Kiski Area, who were a combined 22-2 as of Jan. 11.

“Our team is wrestling well,” Heinl said. “Our schedule is competitive. We want to wrestle the best teams, so we have taken a few losses. However, we were in the majority of those matches.

“We learn a lot when we compete against Connellsville, Norwin, General McLane and others.”

The QV coaches encourage their wrestlers to score points early and often and look for multiple takedowns in the first period.

“We expect our kids to work hard and compete at a high level,” Heinl said. “So far, we have been seeing that most of the time. We make some adjustments in getting kids to their desired weight class, fix some mistakes in certain situations we find ourselves in, and we have to become better on our feet.

“We need to get the first takedown and keep our foot on the gas. Sometimes our kids settle for a 1-0 or 2-0 lead after the first period. We have to change that mentality.”

Wrestling was adopted as a fulltime sport at Quaker Valley this year. After participating in a successful four-year trial period, QV’s school board approved full sponsorship for the team for 2021-22.

Uniquely, there are three Richey brothers in the program this year: Justin, Logan and Marcus, a 126-pound freshman.

“The Richey family is very supportive of the QV wrestling boosters.” Heinl said. “Jason and Melissa Richey were the ones who helped organize Quaker Valley youth wrestling nine or 10 years ago.”

Jason Richey wrestled at Allegheny College.

The six seniors on this year’s team — Justin Richey, Will Campbell (160), Diemert, John Rafla (172), Cutchember and Amir McCracken (215) — were recognized Jan. 12 at the team’s home match against Hopewell.

Cutchember took a 20-3 record into that match while Diemert stood at 18-3 and Richey was 15-4.

“(Diemert) had to share some spots with Patrick (at 189) in year’s past, but it’s gotten Mason a lot better as a wrestler,” said Austin Heinl, a QV volunteer assistant. “And now with Mason down to 172, he’s looking to make a big push in the postseason.”

Other top individual marks were held by Kazalas (17-2), Logan Richey (15-4), Maccaglia (13-3), Carmody (13-4) and Krul (14-6).

Five QV matmen were ranked in the top five in their weight classes in the Trib HSSN WPIAL individual wrestling rankings, led by Cutchember and Logan Richey at No. 1.

Diemert and Kazalas were ranked second and Maccaglia was fourth.

The top five teams in Class 2A were Burrell, Beth-Center, Burgettstown, Mt. Pleasant and Quaker Valley.

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