Quaker Valley wrestling gets off to a solid start

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Saturday, January 23, 2021 | 8:01 AM


Quaker Valley wrestlers wanted to come into this season and test themselves against the best teams around. So far, the Quakers have done just that.

On Jan. 16, WPIAL Class AA No. 5 Quaker Valley traveled to the Seneca Valley Duals and came away with a record of 3-2 in five matches, losing to WPIAL Class AAA No. 2 Seneca Valley (52-9) and No. 5 Franklin Regional (36-31).

As the only Class AA team at the duals, the Quakers came away with wins over Mt. Lebanon (36-33), Plum (43-25) and Hampton (42-27). Quaker Valley assistant coach Austin Heinl was happy with how his team performed over the course of the day.

“We have our guys that have been around the sport for a long time, and they know the top teams, and they know what it kind of takes to wrestle at the top level, so I think it’s really good for our guys who haven’t seen that level,” Heinl said. “We want to show our young guys that we can be a program like Seneca Valley or Franklin Regional in the future if we can focus and get our priorities right on the mat and in the classroom.”

Throughout the beginning of the season, wrestlers such as freshman 106-pounder Jack Kazalas and 189-pound junior Patrick Cutchember have stood out.

Kazalas is the younger brother of John Rocco Kazalas, who tallied a career record of 134-33, won a WPIAL title and placed fifth in the PIAA tournament as a senior. Heinl wants Jack to develop a name for himself, and so far, he’s doing that.

He’s produced a record of 6-1. His only loss a 3-2 decision to Seneca Valley’s Connor Smith.

“We have high hopes for him, and we love the Kazalas family as his brother JR was a huge part of this program,” Heinl said. “Jack, he has some big shoes to fill, but we just try to tell him he is his own wrestler, he’s going to have his own goals and his own things to accomplish. He just needs to go wrestle one match at a time.”

Cutchember has recorded the same record early on this season, tallying six wins and just one loss with four pins and one major decision. A season ago, he finished second at WPIALs, second at regionals and seventh at states. He’s looking to take it one step further this season.

His only loss of the season came against Hampton’s Justin Hart as the two 189-pounders battled to a 3-2 decision on Jan. 16.

“I wish we had a bunch of Patricks in the room,” Heinl said. “He’s a natural leader, he comes into practice every day and puts the work in, and he’s got the skill and talent to try and take it all the way this year.”

Outside of the Seneca Valley Duals, the Quakers also took down Carlynton (60-18) in their first match of the season and then defeated Montour (45-19) on Jan. 18.

Heinl said he likes the way his team trending. As of Jan. 20, the Quakers had also been competing without Conner Redinger, but Heinl said that he would be back in the coming weeks to strengthen the lineup even further.

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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