Pair of WPIAL champs lead way for Quaker Valley wrestling team

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Sunday, February 27, 2022 | 11:01 AM


They are two of the premier seniors in WPIAL Class 2A wrestling.

Quaker Valley’s Patrick Cutchember (189 pounds) and Justin Richey (152 pounds) were ranked No. 1 in their respective weight divisions by Trib HSSN for most of the season.

And with sound reasoning as things turned out: They’ve formed a one-two punch on the mat in Class 2A that’s been second to none.

Cutchember took first place at 189 pounds at the WPIAL Class 2A individual championships Feb. 19 at Canon-McMillan High School, as did Richey at 152.

“I’m very proud of myself,” Cutchember said, “but I knew I was able to do it and I have bigger dreams and goals for the way I would like this postseason to go.

“I was definitely happy, but I’ve won a WPIAL title before (this season), so I know what it’s like and, like I said earlier, I have bigger goals, so I didn’t want to get too caught up in winning WPIALs. I know the Southwest Regional and state tournaments are tough, but I am confident in my ability to win both.”

It was Cutchember’s second straight WPIAL title, as he defeated Mt. Pleasant’s Noah Gnibus, 6-3, in this year’s championship round to hike his overall record to 37-4. Gnibus was ranked No. 3 in the WPIAL.

“Patrick is an exciting wrestler in every position,” QV’s fifth-year coach Mike Heinl said. “He can pin his opponent from any position. He is not afraid to take chances, and he is getting better every time he steps on the mat.”

QV’s dedicated 189-pound standout advanced to the title bout via injury default against Central Valley’s fourth-ranked Brenan Morgan in the semifinals.

The WPIAL wrestling season is a long, hard, grinding stretch of days of grueling practices and exciting matches.

Cutchember, who won 40 times as a sophomore, raised his career record to 134-29 with 86 falls and five technical falls with his 21st win in his last 22 matches, including 13 in a row. He leads the Quakers in pins this season with 25.

Some might argue that the 5-foot-11 Cutchember rates as the best grappler in school history, although the wrestling program is still in relative infancy in its fifth year of existence.

The reliable Cutchember has won back-to-back WPIAL crowns, ended up second twice, captured three section titles and one second-place finish and was a state medalist as a sophomore.

He and QV grad Conner Redinger shared the team record for career pins at the start of this season. Cutchember also holds the season mark for pins with 25, which he has hit twice, and is tied with J. R. Kazalas for career victories.

The focused, outgoing Cutchember is a three-sport standout, excelling in wrestling, football and lacrosse, and a Clarion wrestling recruit. He was a four-year letterman in football (running back/defensive back) and wrestling and will be playing lacrosse for a fourth year in the spring.

“Patrick has certainly accomplished a lot along with some of our alumni who have had successful careers at QV,” Heinl said. “I would leave the ‘best wrestler’ tag up to the fans who like QV wrestling.”

Richey nudged by Beth-Center’s second-seeded Tyler Berish, 3-2 in the second tiebreaker, in the 152-pound finals.

One of three Richey brothers at QV, Richey beat Avonworth’s No. 4 seed Joey Broughton, 9-3, in the semifinals.

The victory was Richey’s 14th in his past 15 matches, raised his season record to 32-6 (with 22 falls) and pushed him over the century mark in career wins at 101-36.

Richey, a Gettysburg recruit, was a WPIAL runner-up last season, has won three section titles while placing second once and has logged at least 20 wins in all four of his varsity seasons.

“Justin is very fundamental and has solid technique,” Heinl said. “Justin is rarely out of position and can score from anywhere. He remains calm and knows what he needs to do to win matches.”

QV senior Mason Diemert also advanced to the WPIAL finals at 172 where he lost by fall to Frazier’s Rune Lawrence in 1:56.

Diemert (31-6, 22 pins) defeated Washington’s Mike Ewing, 6-2, in the semifinal round.

“I’m happy I got second,” Diemert said. “I was seeded third, but that didn’t mean anything to me; I was looking to go compete in the championship. My expectations now are to make it to states and get on the state podium.”

Diemert has had what could be considered a breakthrough season in 2021-22. He is a four-year varsity competitor who started out 10-1 and reeled off 13 wins in a row with 11 falls from Jan. 5 to Feb. 2.

“Mason has had some unfortunate injuries in previous seasons that did not allow him to wrestle at 100 percent,” Heinl said. “We knew Mason was capable of making it deep into the postseason. Mason has been a leader on this team for several years, and we are happy for him. He is incredibly physical on top, and his length creates some problems for his opponents. He can mentally and physically break his opponents with his style of wrestling on top.

“All three, Patrick, Justin and Mason, had a good weekend. Patrick and Justin accomplished their goal while Mason fell a little short. Mason wrestled a very tough opponent (in the finals) who is a favorite to win the state championship. Mason is in a good place mentally and physically.”

Two Quaker Valley wrestlers finished third in Class 2A and two others placed fourth.

Sophomore Isaac Maccaglia and junior Brandon Krul secured the third spots with quick pins at 106 and 126 pounds. Sophomore Jack Kazalas and junior Logan Richey lost by injury default at 113 and 120.

Kazalas was a WPIAL runner-up and 28-8 as a freshman in 2020-21.

Other Quakers qualifying for the WPIAL meet included senior Will Campbell (106), junior Michael Carmody (132), sophomores Nicholas Allan (138) and Chase Kretzler (215) and freshman Sebastian Juarez-Safran (285).

“We watched Will Campbell wrestle his last match at Quaker Valley,” Heinl said. “Will has had a lot to do with our success. He is an amazing young man. He is leaving QV to attend West Point.

“Coaches from other teams would always mention him as a tough wrestler but the nicest kid off the mat. Will was Mason Diemert’s practice partner and Mason has benefited a lot from Will’s work ethic.”

Cutchember, the elder Richey sibling, Diemert, Kazalas (34-4), Krul (32-9) and Logan Richey (31-9) all will take impressive 30-win totals into the PIAA Southwest 2A Regional set for March 4-5 at Peters Township. The top eight in each weight class advanced to the regional tournament.

“I expect the team to be ready to go and compete at a high level,” Heinl said. “We need to stick to the basics and keep doing what got us here. We need to make some adjustments with certain positions, watch some film, rest and get ready for a tough tournament at regionals.”

Quaker Valley’s three WPIAL finalists — Cutchember, Richey and Diemert — sparked the Quakers to their first WPIAL team championship this season with a thrilling 30-28 win Jan. 5 against 15-time defending champion Burrell.

Cutchember, the Richey brothers and Kazalas look to continue their careers at the next level.

The Richey siblings were a combined 63-15 on the season with 40 pins between them.

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