Hampton senior Wolfe enjoying best season after biding his time as junior backup

Saturday, February 19, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Hampton wrestler Alan Wolfe refused to get discouraged last season, stuck on the bench behind a two-time WPIAL qualifier.

Wolfe worked hard every practice, patiently awaiting his chance.

This season he is proving it was worth the wait.

The 172-pound senior is 20-10 — after winning a combined 14 matches in his first three seasons — and is eyeing his first-ever trip to the WPIAL/PIAA Southwest Regional championships in early March.

“Hard works pays off,” Hampton coach Nick Endres said. “He works hard each and every practice and he has been all four years, and it’s finally paying off for him in big ways.”

Wolfe competed in only five matches last season, going 3-2, while two-time WPIAL qualifier Jayden Resch manned the 172-pound spot for a Talbots team loaded with top upperweights. But Wolfe didn’t hang his head. He had gone 11-17 as a sophomore starter, before getting his only matches last season when eventual WPIAL Class 3A 189-pound champion Justin Hart was sidelined by an injury.

“Honestly, it wasn’t really that hard for me just because I knew the hard work that I was putting in,” Wolfe said. “And I was having fun. Whether I was starting or not, I realized that wrestling was doing a lot of good for me and I was having fun doing it.”

With Hart graduated and Resch moving up to 189, Wolfe entered this season locked into the starting lineup at 172. He has become much more effective in the neutral position, while remaining strong on top. Last month, he placed third at 172 in the Allegheny County Championships — going 4-0 on the second day after a quarterfinal loss — and took fifth at the 34-school Fred Bell Tournament at Grove City.

“This is probably the best I’ve ever felt,” Wolfe said. “I think I’ve done a lot of training, and I feel really good.

“Usually, my strength was on top and that is still true. But this is really the first year that I’ve made a ton of improvement on neutral and I’ve been getting a lot more shots in this year and I’ve been finishing a lot more shots, too.”

Wolfe, who entered the season with a career record of 14-21, has recorded eight pins this season, including falls in 28, 45 and 78 seconds.

He used a third-period escape to edge North Hills sophomore Evan Letky, 3-2, in the third-place match at the Allegheny County Championships on Jan. 15. Earlier in the day, Wolfe had recorded two pins and a major decision on the way to his best finish in a major tournament.

“As a coach or a fan, that’s what you want to see,” Endres said. “Inside and outside the room, he is doing everything right, and now he is finding that success after a long time of putting in a lot of work. It’s so great to watch that and see that as a coach.”

Wolfe and the Talbots will compete at the Section 1-3A tournament Feb. 26 at Kiski Area. The top five finishers in each weight class will advance to the WPIAL/PIAA Class 3A Southwest Regional championships, a primary goal for Wolfe.

“It would mean a lot,” he said. “This is the last year that I get to wrestle. That would be a really cool achievement.”

Wolfe already knows something about WPIAL championships. This past fall, he was a member of Hampton’s WPIAL Class 2A title-winning boys cross country team. During the summer and fall, he would train for cross country and then attend wrestling workouts later in the day.

“That just speaks volumes about the type of young man and athlete he is,” Endres said. “He does every extra thing he can.”

Wolfe, who began wrestling in second or third grade after a trying taekwondo, is a team captain who leads by example.

“He’s quiet,” Endres said. “If you are around Alan, other than until practice starts, you wouldn’t know he was one of the top guys on the team. He’s quiet. He’s humble.”


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