Hard work pays off for Pine-Richland wrestling team

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Friday, January 31, 2020 | 5:14 PM


January was a good month for the Pine-Richland wrestling team. It might have been the best month the program has experienced in the past decade.

For starters, the Rams captured first place Jan. 18 at the Allegheny County tournament, besting a field of 37 teams for their first win at the event in 15 years. Pine-Richland followed with by finishing fifth in the WPIAL Section 3-AAA team tournament.

The Rams qualified for their first WPIAL Class AAA team championship appearance since 2006 after a 51-24 win against Fox Chapel at the section tournament.

And they didn’t stop there.

Pine-Richland defeated Peters Township in its WPIAL first-round matchup, 42-39, on Jan. 27 at Canon-McMillan. The Rams bowed out two days later in a 56-18 loss to Waynesburg in the second round, but coach Caleb Kolb said he couldn’t be happier with his team.

“That was a close win [against Peters Township]. We had some matches that didn’t go our way, and it went back and forth between us and them for a little bit,” Kolb said. “It was a little too close for comfort, but the guys really pulled it out. You can tell by watching our matches, that there’s some guys out there for us that have really put in the work. We have some guys that have really come along way, and I think that shows how far we’ve come as a program, too.”

The strong late-season showing by Pine-Richland represents a significant improvement for the program under Kolb, who is in his second season as coach.

“The team has really come together, and it’s really cool to see that,” Kolb said. “After matches, the kids all go out to eat together. That’s something that wasn’t happening as often last year. It’s cool to see that type of special bond being built between them.

“Practices and everything can be tough, it’s not an easy sport, so those bonds really do get forged. But the hard work has been paying off. From top to bottom, these guys know their role and they know the job that they have to do. They’re practicing that way, too. It’s paying off.”

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