Fox Chapel set to host 18th annual Allegheny County wrestling tournament
By: Likitha Janga
Thursday, January 17, 2019 | 5:18 PM
A native of East Liberty, where wrestling wasn’t very prevalent as he grew up, Ron Frank nonetheless made the sport a significant part of his life’s work.
And even after nearly four decades of coaching at Fox Chapel, Frank still gets a rush from the sight of the medal stand at the Allegheny County tournament each January.
Fox Chapel again will host the countywide tournament Friday and Saturday at the high school, with about three dozen schools and nearly 400 wrestlers competing.
“It’s a delight for me to look out on Saturday night after 300 or 400 individual matches, and look out on the award stand and see a returning state champ from let’s say North Hills and also a kid from Carrick, or also a kid from South Park,” Frank said. “Because that tournament will have great competition, but it gives an opportunity to every kid from Allegheny County, no matter if you’re from you’re a school that doesn’t have wrestling or you’re a kid from North Allegheny or Shaler or Brashear.”
This marks the 18th season for the Allegheny County tournament, which Fox Chapel hosted every season since its inception.
A loaded field that includes 11 previous county champions will compete.
Returning champions include North Hills junior 132-pounder Sam Hillegas, a two-time WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA individual champion, and Shaler senior 120-pounder Ryan Sullivan, a defending state champion.
Mt. Lebanon junior 182-pounder Luke Stout can become a three-time county champion after winning at 152 pounds as a freshman and 160 as a sophomore.
Hillegas’ bracket will include another pair of returning county champions in Quaker Valley sophomore Conner Redinger and Penn Hills senior Justin Perkins. Redinger won a WPIAL Class AA title as a freshman.
Two more weight classes include a pair of returning champions: 145 pounds, with Quaker Valley senior JohnRocco Kazalas and Hampton junior Tyler Kocak, and 152, with Thomas Jefferson senior Alex Weber and Pine-Richland sophomore Cole Spencer.
Hampton sophomore Justin Hart and Upper St. Clair senior Jake Slinger also are returning champions.
“As somebody who loves the sport of wrestling, it is a great display of high school athleticism,” Frank said.
Frank said volunteers began working on the tournament months ago, securing sponsors to help pay for the tournament and the awards. He recalled attending a college wrestling match in the past where a wrestler approached him and called the county tournament the highlight of his career.
“We want this to be the best one they go to,” he said.
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at [email protected] or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
ljanga is a Tribune-Review freelancer. You can contact ljanga at [email protected].