Quaker Valley wrestlers defend Section 2 team championship

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Friday, January 24, 2020 | 5:27 PM


Last year, Quaker Valley’s wrestling team learned how to win a championship when it captured the Section 2 title.

This winter, the Quakers figured out what it took to stay on top as they defended their Section 2 team crown.

“It was such a nice feeling,” Quaker Valley sophomore Patrick Cutchember said. “Winning it two years in a row, it feels like the team is succeeding and we’re making an impact in wrestling even though we’re a newer program. It’s pretty good.”

Quaker Valley, in only its fourth year as a varsity program, beat Freedom, 51-23, in the section semifinals. Then, the Quakers defended their title with a 39-38 win over Laurel. In the next-to-last bout, Donovan Cutchember sealed the victory when he pinned his opponent.

“It’s a great feeling to win again, especially the way it came down to us needing a pin from Donovan to seal it,” Quaker Valley junior Conner Redinger said. “The crowd was all fired up; we were all fired up. It was an incredible experience for the older guys and the younger guys, too.”

Defending the section title was no easy task for Quaker Valley, which boasts a young roster that includes eight sophomores and five freshmen.

“By winning, it shows them what they are capable of,” Redinger said. “Our whole team, we’re a family. Everything we do is as a family. We lose together; we win together.”

The Quakers, who want to build their program into a perennial championship contender, welcomed many of their youth wrestlers to watch the Section 2 semifinals and final at the Quaker Valley High School gym.

“The atmosphere was phenomenal. Wrestling at the high school gym is pretty cool; it was a great environment. Even the opponents’ fans were terrific,” Quaker Valley coach Mike Heinl said. “For our younger kids, they saw all that energy and they got to celebrate with us. We had about 30 elementary wrestlers in the stands who got to witness it, too. It’s something we want to continue to build on. I don’t see why we can’t continue to work hard, fix our mistakes and get back there again next year.”

But, before worrying about next season, Quaker Valley is focused on the WPIAL Class AA team tournament. The top three teams advance to the PIAA tournament. Last year, the Quakers finished fourth.

“We were one spot away from making it to states; that’s been a huge chip on our shoulder all year,” Patrick Cutchember said. “Everyone is very confident in our ability to go all the way this year.”

The Quakers will host the first two rounds in their part of the bracket. In order to reach the championship, they’ll most likely have to get past top-seeded Burrell in the semifinals.

“We’ll need to show up. Everyone will have to be at their best for that one,” Redinger said. “Right now, I am super excited. Hopefully, I’ll get my 100th win there. A lot of these young kids haven’t experienced this. We’re trying to make this a tradition, like Burrell has. We are showing we can make an impact and be part of school history for a sport.”

Quaker Valley was scheduled to face Fort Cherry in the first round Wednesday. The winner was set to face the winner of Laurel and Highlands in the quarterfinals. The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Saturday at Chartiers-Houston.

“We have to beat somebody to be somebody. We can’t overlook Fort Cherry or Laurel in our bracket,” Heinl added. “If we make it to the team championship, we will get Burrell and they are the most dominant team around over the last 20 years. We’ll see what happens. We’re not out of it yet. We have a lot of work to do to beat those teams in that bracket. They are all solid.

“It stunk finishing fourth last year and seeing all the teams celebrate, while we were the ones going home. Hopefully, we’ll be able to change it.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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