Ligonier Valley’s Robby Patrick named Westmoreland Tribune-Review Wrestler of the Year
By: Paul Schofield
Saturday, March 31, 2018 | 6:33 PM
Ligonier Valley senior Robby Patrick hadn't been forced to go the distance in a match until the PIAA Class AA semifinals. He won that match, then dropped a hard-fought decision to Susquehanna Township junior Edmond Ruth. It was the second consecutive season he lost to Ruth in the championship bout and third time in four years he lost in the finals.
But Patrick, a four-time PIAA qualifier, ended his career as a four-time District 6 and PIAA Southwest Regional champion, which was enough for him to be named the 2018 Tribune-Review Wrestler of the Year.
Next, Patrick will start a new chapter in his life, as he begins his collegiate career this fall at the University of Virginia.
What are Virginia's plans for you during freshman season?
The goal is getting a chance to wrestle in Pittsburgh next year at NCAA Division I nationals. They told me to be ready, even after states. They think I'm ready to go. They feel my improvement over the season is significant and they feel they'll have me ready. My goal next year is to be an All-American. It's going to be tough, but I think it's doable. The ultimate goal is to be a national champion, but in that weight class there are two returning national champions and it will be tough as a freshman. It might take a year or two to transition and building into my weight class (174) and getting bigger and stronger. I've gained about 15 pounds since the end of wrestling. I've been lifting five days a week, hoping to get big.
What are some of the things your older brothers (Josh and Justin) have told you about the differences between high school and college wrestling?
You have to be strong for the weight and you have to be technically sound. You don't want to cut too much weight, because it obviously will take a toll on your body. You have to be strong. I wrestled in a couple open tournaments against college wrestlers already; those kids were strong, but I felt I held my own. It will be a huge difference from being a freshman in college and wrestling 24-year olds. I definitely have a ways to go.
What are some of the things you must improve on before college?
Definitely the bottom position. Everyone has to work on bottom. Re-shots and hand fighting, and just confidence knowing you're the best. It's going to be trial and error, and if you give your best effort sometimes it doesn't work and sometimes it does. You have to see what works best for you. Fixing the small things makes a big difference.
You finished second three times in the state finals. What positives can you take away from that experience?
I've been at the top consistently. That probably means something. I wrestled through some injuries this year, especially at the end of the season at states. Mentally, to be able to do that was probably a positive. Some of the good things were in the semifinals when I hit a re-shot, probably didn't have to do it all season. I didn't face the level of competition all year, so first full matches I wrestled were in the semifinals and finals. It will be different in college seeing good competition every day in the practice room, wrestling and facing good competition once a week.
What is something people don't know about you that would surprise them?
Most people know me well. I'm a very simple guy, and I work hard. I'm good at construction. I like building houses and at the same time I like building different stuff. I'm building a treasure chest now, it's kind of cool, in shop class and I engraved a UVA logo and swords on it. It's bigger than I wanted it. I built a desk. I love shop class.
Do you have a favorite teacher at Ligonier Valley?
I like all my teachers. If I had to pick one it would probably be Mr. (Tom) Bridge, my shop teacher. He's really involved in wrestling; he used to be the coach.
What are your favorite meals?
I like pierogies, I love Italian food and pizza. I like by grandmother's yellow jello salad that has fruit (strawberries) in it.
What's your most memorable moment at Ligonier Valley?
I don't find my accomplishments as memorable as the people who were there with me when I was doing it. They make those memories last. It's not the things I win, it's the people that helped me get there and were involved in getting me there. They make the things special. Fred Jackson and Ron Zimmerman traveled with me and my dad (Robert) to places. Fred (a family member) has been there for my brothers. He'd go to districts, regionals and states. It was fun having them around.
What is so unique about UVA?
I don't think people realize how good the school is, academically and in athletics. It is one of the top public schools in the country every year. Athletically, they can compete against anyone in the country. The basketball team was seeded No. 1 in the country. Field hockey teams, their soccer teams are good. Tennis is the returning national champions and baseball team top 15. It forces you to work hard or be left behind.
Westmoreland Tribune-Review all-stars
Hempfield, jr., 113 pounds
2017-18 record: 40-5
Burkholder advanced to the PIAA semifinals and handed Manheim Central sophomore Will Betancourt his first loss. He also placed third in the WPIAL and was the Section 1 champion, improving to 77-15.
Franklin Regional, jr., 132 pounds
2017-18 record: 40-3
The WPIAL Class AAA champion placed second in the state. He was the Section 1 and WCCA champion, placed third at Powerade and second at the Gateway Invitational. He has a 102-18 career record.
Penn-Trafford, sr., 145 pounds
2017-18 record: 38-9
Chishko ended his career with a fifth-place finish at states. He was a WPIAL runner-up and a Section 1 champion. He placed third at WCCAs and was a four-time PIAA qualifier. He had a career record of 140-31.
Penn-Trafford, jr., 132 pounds
2017-18 record: 31-9
Coy is a three-time PIAA Class AAA qualifier and earned his first medal with a fifth-place finish. He was a WPIAL and Section 1 runner-up. He also placed second at WCCAs. He is 99-31 for his career.
Southmoreland, sr., 170 pounds
2017-18 record: 33-7
The Scotties senior finished fifth at the PIAA Class AA tournament. He placed third at the regionals and second at the Section 2 and WPIAL tournaments. He finished his career with a 117-42 record.
Derry, jr., 220 pounds
2017-18 record: 48-5
The three-sport athlete placed second in the state after taking second at regionals. He was the WPIAL and WCCA champion. He also plays football and volleyball. He has a 116-22 career record.
Southmoreland, sr., 145 pounds
2017-18 record: 26-7
The senior battled an injury but finished second at WPIALs, third at regionals and third at the PIAA tournament. He was Outstanding Wrestler for the WPIAL at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. He was 142-23.
Belle Vernon, sr., 160 pounds
2017-18 record: 43-2
The Bucknell recruit finished second in the state, dropping a decision to Erie Prep junior Carter Starocci in overtime. He was the WPIAL, WCCA and Section 2 champion. He finished his career 170-25.
Hempfield, sr., 152 pounds
2017-18 record: 43-3
The Pitt recruit placed third in the PIAA tournament. He finished third in the WPIAL, won the Section 1 and WCCA titles. He also won his match at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. He was 150-23 for his career.
Belle Vernon, jr., 170 pounds
2017-18 record: 42-5
Joll placed fifth at the PIAA tournament after winning the WPIAL title. He lost to Greensburg Salem's Jesse Quatse in the PIAA consolations after beating Quatse in the WCCA finals. He is 79-23.
Mt. Pleasant, sr., 132 pounds
2017-18 record: 40-10
He was a WPIAL runner-up and regional champion. He was the Section 2 champion, placed second at Bedford and fourth at WCCAs. He lost two close matches at the PIAA tournament to finish 130-49.
Norwin, so., 106 pounds
2017-18 record: 39-1
The two-time WPIAL champ finished second in the state, falling to Seneca Valley's Alejandro Herrera-Rondon, 1-0, in ultimate tiebreaker. He defeated Herrera-Rondon, 1-0, in the WPIAL finals. He is 75-6.
Greensburg Salem, sr., 170 pounds
2017-18 record: 48-7
The Penn recruit finished fourth in the WPIAL and at the PIAA tournament. He was a Section 1 champion and WCCA runner-up. Quatse has a career record of 101-28.
Latrobe, so., 126 pounds
2017-18 record: 36-8
The sophomore placed fifth in the state after upsetting No. 2 Ed Scott of DuBois in the first round and reaching the semifinals. He placed third in the WPIAL and won the Section 1 title. He has a 63-19 record.