Fox Chapel wrestling reaching goals as special season rolls on

Saturday, January 27, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Landon Funk was surprised by who he saw when he stepped out on the mat for the final of the Allegheny County Wrestling Championships. Funk’s former youth coach Dustin Widdoss came in from out of town to see him and other wrestlers he coached in the Foxes’ youth program compete.

When Funk saw Widdoss, the Foxes’ 114-pound junior wrestler felt like he couldn’t lose.

“I had to go out there and wrestle my heart out,” Funk said. “He’s had the biggest impact on me as a wrestler. He coached almost every starter on our team. I still send him videos after every match that he breaks down for me.”

Funk defeated Avonworth’s Auston Kosanovic, 5-2, as one highlight in an emotional week for the program. Funk’s win gave Fox Chapel its first county champion since Ed Farrell won at 220 pounds in 2020.

On Jan. 24, the Foxes beat Central Catholic, 51-18, to clinch their first section title since 1971 and only the second in school history. Fox Chapel is 12-1 on the season and 5-0 in section.

Widdoss’ post on LinkedIn showed the deep connection he still feels for the Fox Chapel wrestling program. Funk said Widdoss, who works out of town, traveled in from Charlotte to be at the tournament.

“I yelled at the top of my lungs in support of these boys,” Widdoss wrote. “I laughed and I cried … a few times. It meant the world to me to be there. I cannot put into words the collective impact this group of kids has had on my life.”

Fox Chapel coach Michael Frank said the program’s success is the result of having a lot of people involved who are invested in its success.

“He stays in touch,” Frank said. “Every match, we are texting each other and will watch video and send comments to us. It’s a tremendous bond they’ve made with each other.”

The Foxes gained control of the section race by knocking off defending section champion Plum, 30-23.

“The match I thought we knew we won the section title was Plum,” Funk said. “Plum won the section last year, and we knew that was the team we had to beat to win the section. We went out and beat them by seven points. Every one of us going out there and wrestling hard meant the most.”

Funk leads the team with 21 wins, but he is followed closely by Michael Worsen (121 pounds). Worsen, Funk’s regular training partner, has a 20-2 record.

The Foxes have gotten plenty of contributions through the lineup, with D’Angelo Hamilton (17), Jack Viti (16), Adam Haines (14), Daniel Noel (14), Youssef Abdelsalam (13), Joseph Geller (13) and Milo Chiu (12) all reaching the double-digit win total.

“We work as hard as we can day in and day out,” Funk said. “We have been here our whole lives. It’s good to be a leader on the team. It shows we have confidence when we go to the mat to go out there and get points.”

Frank is excited to see how this team can stack up against other top teams from the area.

“This group of young men on the team have been wrestling together for over a decade,” Frank said. “They’ve been at a tight-knit group for their entire wrestling career. We knew we had the talent. There’s a lot of things that go into it.”


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