Behind 2 Allegheny County champions, Quaker Valley wrestlers continue strong season

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Sunday, January 29, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Two highly skilled Quaker Valley athletes shared the winner’s spotlight at the Allegheny County wrestling championships Jan. 20-21 at Fox Chapel.

Brandon Krul took first place in the 127-pound weight division, as the QV senior competed with a flurry, pinning all five of his opponents and earning the award for the most pins in the least amount of time (3:58).

“Brandon was the top seed, but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” QV coach Austin Heinl said. “That didn’t stop him from using his dangerousness to pin everyone through the finals.

“Brandon is very strong, so he uses that to his advantage. Brandon uses his strength to be very explosive in positions, and that makes him a dangerous wrestler where he can pin you at any time. He is a very upbeat and outgoing young man. He always has a big smile after he gets a pin.”

Krul said the experience was surreal for him.

“It felt amazing and emotional,” he said. “After coming up short of my goal last year, being able to stand on the top of the podium was surreal and something I never felt before. To be able to share that with my coaches and family who have been there believing in me for all these years was so rewarding. I know this is just the beginning of the uphill track to Hershey.

“I was mentally and physically prepared, and I felt very confident and comfortable with my attacks. My technique was on point and I was able to execute the pins. Some people train to win, but we train to dominate.”

QV junior Jack Kazalas posted a 5-0 record at 121 pounds to repeat as an individual titlist. Kazalas took first place at 113 last season.

“Jack dominated through a very tough weight class,” Heinl said. “He had rematches from the tournament last year that were close against South Fayette’s (Jonathan) Baiano and Chartiers Valley’s (Brady) Joling. He beat them both last year by two points. He widened the gap this year and it shows that Jack has jumped to another level from the work he’s put in.

“Jack is very offensive on his feet. He can score with an endless arsenal of attacks. He’s very savvy and has good mat awareness. He knows what he needs to do to win even when he’s losing. He’s a very serious wrestler that is focused during days of competition. You won’t see him smile until some time passes after competition.”

Kazalas said there is still room for improvement.

“I was pretty happy winning my second county title but I definitely knew I could have wrestled better and scored more points,” he said. “I feel like my strength is when I’m in neutral and I’m constantly looking to score and also when I’m on top. My goals for this year are to capture my first WPIAL title, Southwest regional title and, most importantly, a state title.”

Krul, who wrestled at Mars for two years before transferring to QV, improved to 24-2 with his performance at Fox Chapel while Kazalas padded his record to 20-1.

“Brandon has shown a lot of improvement from last season,” Heinl said. “He’s bounced back from his performance at Powerade by winning MAC and county titles. He’s been focusing on the areas that need improvement by watching film and working with our coaches.

“I believe Brandon can beat anyone in the state. With his explosive style, he can pin anyone he wrestles. I know our goal is to advance to the state tournament and place high on the podium.”

Heinl believes Kazalas also has the potential to win a state championship.

“Jack has looked dominant all season,” Heinl said. “If he continues to do the right things, he will continue his dominance into the postseason. Jack’s goal is to be a state champion. We believe he is fully capable to do it. He has all of the qualities of a champion. All that’s left is to toe the line with the best.”

Krul has established lofty goals for the 2022-23 season.

“My goals are to achieve 100 (career) wins, win the section and WPIAL championships, and advance to the state championships,” he said. “I’m hungry to get on the podium at Hershey.“

“I feel like I have great mat awareness; I like to dictate the pace and I’m best on my feet. My coaches tell me, ‘You wrestle your match, you control your opponent.’ I have a tenacious and explosive style and when I see an opportunity in a match, I go after it. When I step onto the mat, it’s do or die. God is always in my corner through every outcome in my matches.”

Quaker Valley placed fourth in the final team standings with 165 points, finishing as the top Class 2A school at the tournament.

Class 3A Plum won the championship with 230.5 points, followed by Pine-Richland with 207 and North Allegheny with 202.5.

Five other QV grapplers ended up in the top eight at the county championships led by senior Logan Richey’s runner-up finish at 145. Richey’s record stood at 21-7 following the tournament, and his career record was 99-42.

Richey racked up 21-11, 19-10 and 38-14 marks in his first three seasons.

QV freshman Bruce Anderchak and senior Michael Carmody corralled fifth place at 107 and 133, respectively. Isaac Maccaglia, a 114-pound junior, and Jack Diemert, a 152-pound sophomore, also placed eighth for the Quakers.

“Michael Carmody had a great performance,” Heinl said. “Being unseeded, he beat three seeded wrestlers. He is one of the hardest workers in the (wrestling) room and a great leader. I’m very pleased with how much he’s improved and performed this season.

“Also, we had three first-time placers in Bruce Anderchak, Isaac Maccaglia and Jack Diemert. Isaac and Jack punched through to the podium this year which is an improvement from last season. Both were one match short from placing last year.”

Other competitors for the Quakers included Grant Castaldo (107), Wyatt Hamm (133), Marcus Richey (152), Eoin Parnell (160), Aidan Fair (172), Chase Kretzler (215) and Sebastian Juarez-Safran (285).

A total of 38 teams participated in the 2023 county tournament.

“I’m happy with how the team performed,” Heinl said, “and we are excited to move forward to the team postseason and defend our WPIAL championship.”

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