Quaker Valley wrestlers ready to test themselves against the best

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Sunday, December 13, 2020 | 8:40 PM


Over the past few years, the Quaker Valley wrestling team has taken the necessary steps to build a successful program from the bottom up.

The Quakers won section titles each of the past two seasons and are looking to do so again. They want to take it one step further, though, and they have the team to do it.

The Quakers return plenty of talent, including two-time WPIAL champion Conner Redinger (152 pounds), who has recorded at least 34 wins in each of his three seasons. Junior Patrick Cutchember, who was 40-11 last season and placed second at the WPIAL and Southwest Regional tournament, also is back.

Having experienced and accomplished athletes like that in the practice room has helped the Quakers grow as a program.

“When we go to practice you can hear a pin drop. There’s no drama. There’s nothing,” Quaker Valley coach Mike Heinl said. “They just go into practice, they go through their covid plan and they start working. They don’t say a word. The leadership on the team is great, and we rely heavily on these kids.”

With the opportunity the Quakers have in front of them, there is a sense of focus within the team, and they are ready to put in the work to have success.

Along with Redinger and Cutchember, Heinl also returns juniors Amir McCracken (195) and Justin Richey (132) and sophomores Michael Carmody (113) and Logan Richey (106). Heinl also is excited about the prospects for freshman Jack Kazalas.

Kazalas’ older brother, John Rocco, was a key piece in building the Quaker Valley program from scratch and placed fifth in the PIAA tournament in the 145-pound weight class in 2018-19.

Having talent is one thing. Having the motivation to become a successful team is another, and the Quakers are short on neither.

“This has been one of our best seasons in the practice room,” Heinl said. “These kids have all stepped up their game and are taking all of these obstacles in stride, and they are dealing with it. I’m happy with where we are at in early December, and this year has been a real pleasure coaching these kids.”

Quaker Valley’s hard work won’t stop in the practice room. Before all Pennsylvania high school sports were put on pause last week, the Quakers had scheduled matchups against some of the top teams in the area, including Waynesburg, Canon-McMillan, Connellsville, Thomas Jefferson and Seneca Valley. They also were scheduled to compete in the Powerade tournament.

“I want to wrestle these better high school teams,” Heinl said. “I want to put our kids in difficult situations so they can get back to the wrestling room and work harder and say I want to be where they are at. If we just ride around and beat teams that don’t have quality wrestlers or they have a lot of forfeits, what do we get out of it?”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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