Led by 3-sport standout Cutchember, Quaker Valley wrestling sets goals high

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Sunday, December 19, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Quaker Valley’s wrestling goals for 2021-22 are three-fold.

The Quakers aim to win another section title, qualify for the PIAA team tournament and have multiple individual state qualifiers.

With 11 returning starters and four Division I prospects, coach Mike Heinl believes all three are attainable.

“We want to stay healthy, have fun and compete at a high level,” Heinl said. “This team is hungry. They have put in the work in the offseason. It’s a great group to work with. Practices are fun, hard and the effort is there. If we can stay healthy and tighten up our lineup, we should be ready to go for the team tournament in February.”

Three top returning starters are seniors Patrick Cutchember (189 pounds) and Justin Richey (160) and sophomore Jack Kazalas (113).

“I expect us to do very well this year,” Cutchember said. “We have been getting better every season, and I feel that this team has the ability to make it to states. Personally, my goal is to win a state title.”

Cutchember, who excels in wrestling, football and lacrosse, won a WPIAL individual championship last season.

“Three-sport athletes are hard to find nowadays,” Heinl said. “The coaching staff is blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Patrick and his brother Donovan. It’s a great family.

“Patrick is exciting to watch. He is aggressive and does not care about who he is wrestling. He’s constantly working on scoring points and looking for the fall. He is a terrific young man on and off the mat. We are excited to see Patrick wrestle this season.”

Kazalas enjoyed a noteworthy freshman season, finishing as a WPIAL runner-up and qualifying for the Super Regional. He is the younger brother of John Rocco Kazalas, who from 2016-19 competed at QV and earned two section titles, three third-place finishes at the regional tournament and twice was a PIAA medalist. He also won the first WPIAL title in program history as a senior.

Jack Kazalas went 27-5 at 106 pounds last season, picking up seven pins, four major decisions and two technical falls.

Richey was a WPIAL runner-up who finished one match away from advancing to regionals.

The Quakers indeed seem loaded this season as Cutchember, Richey and Kazalas are joined by a solid group of talented wrestlers including eight returning starters: seniors Will Campbell (172), Mason Diemert (189) and Amir McCracken (215), juniors Logan Richey (126), Michael Carmody (132) and Dom Floro (145), and sophomores Isaac Macaglia (106) and Nick Allan (138).

Jack Kazalas (27-5), Justin Richey (20-9) and Cutchember (26-5) were ranked second in Class 2A at 106, 152 and 189 by Trib HSSN last season. Logan Richey (19-10) earned the fourth spot at 113.

In his first two seasons, Cutchember went a combined 70-17 including a 40-11 mark as a sophomore. He won 45 of those 70 matches via pin and only 11 by decision.

Cutchember, who led QV with 16 pins last year, Justin Richey, Logan Richey and Kazalas look to continue their careers at the next level.

“I expect these four kids to continue with their leadership roles,” Heinl said. “Justin, Logan and Jack have wrestled in the spring, summer and fall and should be ready to go. Logan is a machine. He has grown so much. He is mentally tougher and should be fun to watch. Jack is going to be tough at 113. He has improved in every aspect. Justin is healthy, strong, and ready to make some noise.”

Cutchember, a four-year letterman in football as a running back/defensive back, and a three-year letterman in wrestling and lacrosse (as a defender), recently signed with Clarion, where he plans to continue his career on the mats.

“They (Clarion) are rebuilding with a lot of WPIAL kids,” Heinl said, “like Joey Fisher from South Park, Chanz Shearer from Seneca Valley and Patrick. They are well coached and should be exciting to watch.”

Cutchember and QV grad Conner Redinger shared the team record for career pins with 61 at the start of this season. Cutchember also holds the single-season record for pins with 25.

Notable newcomers on this year’s QV squad include freshmen Jack Diemert (152) and Sebastian Juarez-Safran (285) and junior Brandon Krul (132).

“I would add in Michael Carmody, Brandon Krul, Mason Deimert and Amir McCracken as leaders on the team,” Heinl said. “These kids did improve a lot from last year by lifting weights and/or wrestling during the offseason. All of our wrestlers have put in a lot of work in the offseason and we expect them to compete at a high level.”

QV’s fifth-year coach is anticipating big things from Carmody at 132.

“Michael Carmody is a stud,” Heinl said. “The kid outworks everyone. He doesn’t like to lose and will do anything you ask him to do.”

Others looking to contribute this season include senior Sean Mariner (285), sophomores Aidan Fair (160) and Chae Kretzler (189) and freshmen Grant Castaldo (106), Wyatt Hamm (120) and Marcus Richey (126).

Quaker Valley ended up 13-6 last season and secured fourth place in Class 2A in the Trib HSSN final team rankings.

Justin Richey, Campbell, Redinger, Cutchember and McCracken won five straight matches from 152 to 215 pounds, helping QV break a 15-15 tie with Montour to roll to the Section 2-AA championship. The Quakers have earned three consecutive section crowns.

The top five squads in 2A a year ago were Burrell (12-1), Burgettstown (13-1), Beth-Center (15-3), QV and Mt. Pleasant (10-7).

The Quakers expect Laurel and Montour to present the toughest challenges in the section. Montour and Laurel were ranked No. 6 and No. 7 in 2A last season.

QV has added Cole Nye, a two-time state champion, to its coaching staff as a volunteer assistant. Garrett Frey is the assistant head coach while Austin Heinl and Logan Heinl are volunteer assistants.

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