Carlynton, Chartiers Valley expect to send several wreslters to WPIALs

Thursday, December 12, 2019 | 5:07 PM

Jesse Valentine and Bill Evans are good friends. Both are wrestling coaches — Valentine at Carlynton and Evans at Chartiers Valley — and they have kids who wrestle together.

Both are anticipating strong seasons for their respective programs, as the Colts and Cougars return a handful of 2019 WPIAL qualifiers. And both likely will focus more on their individual athletes’ accomplishments.

Carlynton has only eight wrestlers — one is new to the sport — so the Cougars will go into every dual meet giving up several points to forfeits. Valentine, in fact, said he pulled his team out of all duals tournaments.

Chartiers Valley, meanwhile, is in a brutal section that includes Waynesburg, Canon-McMillan and Trinity. Still, Evans expects his team can be in contention for the fourth playoff spot.

A look at each team:


The Cougars opened their season by placing four wrestlers at the Chartiers-Houston tournament.

Freshman Chase Brandbura was the highest among the team’s four medalists, taking third at 113 pounds. Senior Eddie Huehn (145) and junior Collin Milko (182) were fourth in their respective weight classes, and sophomore Bryce Rodriguez was sixth at 126.

The Cougars finished 14th in the 29-team event.

Huehn, Milko, Rodriguez and junior Oleg Melnyk (152) are the returning WPIAL participants. Huehn was a section 2-AA runner-up and fifth-place finisher in the WPIAL last season, and Valentine is expecting him to take another step.

“Eddie put in a lot of time in the weight room this summer and did a lot of training with past wrestlers,” Valentine said.

Rodriguez could be on the cusp of a breakout. He missed most of last season while recovering from a torn ACL. He wrestled only a handful of matches toward the end of the schedule but still was runner-up in the section and seventh in the WPIAL at 106.

Valentine said Rodriguez should be wrestling at 113 come the postseason. Likewise, Brandebura, who is at 113, likely will drop in weight class.

Melnyk went back to his native Ukraine to train over the summer. Valentine said that had been his routine in the past, but between his freshman and sophomore years, he didn’t go back.

He blamed his poor WPIAL performance — losing in the seventh-place match — on that, so he made sure to return to Ukraine this summer. He is nursing an injury at the moment but is expected back in the lineup soon.

Milko, who is with the Cougars via co-op with Bishop Canevin, placed sixth in the WPIAL after winning the Section 2-AA title at 170.

“I’m kind of excited to see what he does,” Valentine said. “He puts a lot of effort and hard work into it and sets his goals pretty high. He’s really pushing for his goals.”

Chartiers Valley

The bad news for the Colts is they lost two key wrestlers. Zach Macy, the Section 4-AAA champion at 132 pounds, graduated, and Luke Potts, a sophomore who was a WPIAL qualifier and section runner-up at 120, transferred to West Allegheny.

The good news for Evans? Five WPIAL qualifiers return, he gets sophomore Chris Beatty back at full strength, and a pair of incoming freshmen will bolster the lineup.

The Colts got off to a strong start, placing fourth at Chartiers-Houston. Char Valley was one of only two teams — the other being runner-up Pine-Richland — to produce two champions: freshman Dylan Evans (132), the coach’s son, and sophomore Josh Sarasnick (220).

Freshman Brady Joling (106) and Evans should be able to make up for the loss of Potts and Macy. Evans entered the season ranked third in the WPIAL by PA Power Wrestling — before even wrestling a varsity match.

Joling placed third at Chartiers-Houston.

“He is scrappy and gritty,” Bill Evans said of Joling. “He is in a tough weight — 106 in our section is no joke — but I’m excited to see how he’s going to handle this year.”

Sophomore Ashton Sadowski, a WPIAL qualifier at 106 last season, was runner-up at 113 at Char-Houston. Junior Donovan O’Malley, a WPIAL qualifier at 182 last season, is expected to make significant strides. He placed fifth at Chartiers-Houston.

Though he plays three sports and doesn’t necessarily make wrestling his focus. O’Malley might be the team’s best athlete. At the Colts’ annual Thanksgiving run, O’Malley won the 5-mile race.

“You would think a smaller kid would dominate, but he killed it,” Evans said. “He came in so much bigger and mature. It looks like he’s aged three years, kind of like a moth to a butterfly. I think he’s going to have a nice improvement.”

Beatty, who was third at 152 at Chartiers-Houston, qualified for WPIALs at 126 last season. But he got sick right before the tournament, and, as he was trying to rehydrate after the illness, he was unable to manage his weight and had to withdraw.

“He’s one of the best wrestlers on the team,” Evans added. “He’s phenomenal.”

Sarasnick, like Sadowski, wrestled in freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments over the summer. Both qualified for the prestigious national championships in Fargo, N.D.

They represent the backbone of the Colts: strong freshman and sophomore classes that are the product of a burgeoning junior high program coached by Rick Pattinato, who was named WPIAL Junior High Coach of the Year.

“It’s a really exciting time,” Evans said. “(Pattinato) is developing those kids and getting them excited about their sport.”

The Colts’ other returning WPIAL qualifiers are Cody Trout (138) and Murat Zaynullaev (170). Senior Shabur Karimov, who placed eighth at Chartiers-Houston, also returns at 160.

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