Clutch performances helped carry Quaker Valley to 1st WPIAL wrestling title

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Sunday, February 13, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Patrick Cutchember ignited the engine; Justin Richey drove the Quakers over the finish line.

Quaker Valley’s wrestling team won a decision that was noticed around the Western Pennsylvania, as well as the state.

The Quakers, seeded third in Class 2A, edged 15-time defending champion Burrell, 30-28, on Jan. 5 at Chartiers-Houston High School to earn their first WPIAL championship in school history.

“We were excited for the opportunity,” QV coach Mike Heinl said. “The team was extremely poised throughout the day. We met up at 8 a.m. in the practice room and played handball, talked and watched some film. As we were walking out of the practice room to board the bus, I heard a few wrestlers say, ‘When we come back here later, we will be WPIAL champs.’”

Top seed Burrell (11-5) had reeled in 15 WPIAL championships in a row prior to this year. The Bucs have won 164 consecutive section matches and 19 straight section titles.

The Bucs also had won 48 consecutive WPIAL playoff matches after defeating Mt. Pleasant, 33-24, in the semifinals.

“Burrell is the gold standard for wrestling in Pennsylvania,” Heinl said. “They are well coached and they do not lose very often. Their kids are tough, and we knew we needed our kids to step it up a notch. It’s not easy (to do) after beating Burgettstown, an undefeated team ranked higher than you. We had to quickly recover mentally (following the semifinal round) and go out against a team that hasn’t lost in 15 years.

“We have some 14-year-old wrestlers on our team so they weren’t even born when Burrell was defeated at a WPIAL match.”

The Bucs jumped out to an early 12-0 advantage against QV until Cutchember secured a pin with only 13 seconds remaining in a marquee matchup at 215 pounds.

“Patrick got us on the board with a huge pin against the No. 2-ranked kid in the WPIAL,” Heinl said.

The QV senior, who held a 20-8 lead late in the third period, improved to 29-4 on the season and 126-29 for his career, and raised his team-high pin total to 19.

“For me, the key was that the team needed bonus points,” Cutchember said. “Our coaches told me that they needed for me to get bonus points for us to win so I went out and got them.

“After the pin I would say I was somewhat relieved. I was glad to be able to have gotten the pin for the team because it was getting late in the match and I had not had a good opportunity for a pin yet. Also, it was a relief to not have to worry about my match anymore and just focus on cheering on my team.”

Cutchember has been one of several stalwarts in the QV wrestling program. He finished with 30, 40 and 27 wins in his first three seasons with the Quakers.

“I’m very proud of myself and the team for what we were able to accomplish,” Cutchember said following the WPIAL match. “I knew we were capable of such accomplishments, but to actually be able to go out and complete our goals is a great feeling.”

In the critical last bout of the WPIAL match, Richey was clutch.

Also a senior, Richey needed to win by a fall or technical fall at 152 pounds, as Burrell held a 28-24 lead.

“I was having fun and letting loose,” Richey said. “I tried not to let all the emotions get to me. I just went out there to score points and get the job done.

“I had pure happiness for the team and coaches and everyone who contributed to this championship.”

It took Richey just 37 seconds to take care of business, registering his 18th pin of the season.

“We knew we were going to finish at 152,” Heinl said. “Justin, one of our captains, was going to get the chance to win it for us. I talked to Justin before he walked out on the mat. He was calm and nodded in confidence that he was going to make it happen.

“He got the job done.”

Richey boosted his 2021-22 record to 25-5 and his career mark to 93-35. He has registered at least 20 wins in all four of his varsity seasons, including 29 in his freshman campaign.

Richey said winning the WPIAL crown was team effort.

“Our team worked hard to earn this title. This was a team goal,” he said. “Everyone contributed to beating the streak.

“I am fortunate to have great teammates and coaches and great team leaders like Patrick Cutchember and Mason Diemert.”

Quaker Valley, in its fifth year of wrestling, improved to 17-3 with its ninth straight victory, including a tense 36-35 decision over No. 2 seed and previously undefeated Burgettstown (13-1) in the semifinal round.

“Burgettstown was a tough team,” Heinl said. “We have a lot of respect for them.”

Burrell coach Josh Shields wasn’t surprised by the Quakers’ victory over Burgettstown.

“I thought all year Quaker Valley was the second-best team next to mine,” said Shields in an interview with Trib HSSN. “They’ve been a very talented team throughout. They got some new guys in this year, and they showed up and battled.”

Burrell won seven bouts against QV, which won six. But the Quakers’ point-total was bolstered by four pins.

Along with Richey and Cutchember, sophomores Isaac Maccaglia and Jack Kazalas achieved falls at 106 and 113. Kazalas earned his in 53 seconds to improve to 28-2 overall. He was 28-8 as a freshman. Maccaglia gained his pin in 2:28 to go to 20-6.

“I’m very proud of myself and the team for what we were able to accomplish,” Cutchember said. “I knew we were capable of such accomplishments, but to actually be able to go out and complete our goals is a great feeling.”

Two other QV winners were freshman Marcus Richey, at 126, and junior Brandon Krul, at 132. Krul gave the Quakers their first lead of the match at 24-21 with a 4-3 decision, boosting his season record to 23-8.

“Brandon Krul had a huge win with a late third-period takedown,” Heinl said. ”Our lightweights, Maccaglia, Kazalas and, of course, Justin Richey, who sealed the deal, got us some much-needed pins.

“Logan Richey also battled Cooper Hornack to a one-point loss. Hornack is a highly accomplished wrestler for Burrell and Logan wrestled well. Jack Diemert lost but prevented Burrell from getting bonus points.”

Against Burgettstown, Richey (152), Cutchember (189), Chae Kretzler (215), Jack Kazalas (113), Logan Richey (120) and Marcus Richey were victorious, all via pins

“Chase Kretzler came up big by pinning their 215-pound kid,” Heinl said, “and all three Richey boys getting pins was huge.”

The Richey siblings were a combined 55-15 on the season with 34 pins between them.

“It was amazing to win this championship with my younger brothers Logan and Marcus in the starting lineup,” Justin said. “They did a tremendous job against Burgettstown and Burrell. It was a big day for us.”

Quaker Valley, which moved from No. 4 to No. 1 in Class 2A in the Trib HSSN wrestling rankings, received an automatic big to the PIAA team tournament for the first time.

“I was proud of the way the team performed on and off the mat,” Heinl said. “This is our first WPIAL championship. I believe this program will win many more because of the support we receive from the Quaker Valley School District, our boosters and the community. We do not take their support for granted.”

The first round of the PIAA tournament was held Feb. 10 at Giant Center in Hershey. The Quakers wrestled District 11 runner-up Saucon Valley.

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