Quaker Valley wrestling leans on experience

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Sunday, December 15, 2019 | 11:50 AM


Quaker Valley’s wrestling team has improved incrementally in its first three years.

The Quakers hope to take their biggest step this season. After winning a section title last season and finishing fourth in the WPIAL Class AA team tournament,Quaker Valley wants to contend for a WPIAL title and reach the PIAA tournament.

“We want to keep making jumps year after year,” assistant coach Austin Heinl said. “We went from just making the team tournament to winning a section title and being in the top four in the WPIAL. Now, let’s make that jump and head to Hershey.”

Quaker Valley graduated three seniors in JohnRocco Kazalas, Geoff Magin and Bradley Fadeley. They played prominent roles in the team’s success.

“We have almost 20 kids on our roster, which is more than we ever experienced. The good thing is we’re not really starting from scratch with a lot of these wrestlers,” Heinl said. “A lot of our guys were part of program when the youth program started in 2012. We are just reaping the benefits of all the hard work the parents, boosters and wrestlers have put into it.”

Three wrestlers — Austin Francic, Paige Lenhardt and Austin Pantaleo — have been with the high school team since it debuted in 2016.

“It’s nice to see how they have improved and how the team has grown,” Heinl said.

Quaker Valley welcomes back starters Conner Redinger, Justin Richey, Patrick Cutchember, Donovan Cutchember, Cole White, Mason Diemert, John Rafla, Francic and Pantaleo to the lineup. Logan Richey, Dom Floro, Gino Angeletti, Liam Cain, Nathan Dicks, Christian Brown and Sean Mariner are expected to contribute.

“It’s pretty cool to see how much a lot of the guys have grown over the past year,” Redinger said. “If everybody gets down to the weight they need to be at, we feel confident we can be pretty competitive.”

Redinger is a two-time WPIAL champ. He won at 106 as a freshman and at 132 last year. He is wrestling at 160 this season.

“It’s all about adjusting to bigger guys now,” he said. “It’s going to be a bigger task adjusting to their strength and size. I was used to being one of the tallest guys in my weight class, but now I am going against taller guys. It’s a bumpy road now, but I’ll get used to it.”

Redinger is working his way back from knee surgery in October.

“I am just getting backing into it, but I feel great,” he said. “Not wrestling drove me absolutely insane. I want to go win a state title this year.”

Heinl has no doubt Redinger will adapt.

“Whenever you make a jump like that, there’s always an adjustment period,” Heinl said. “I was expecting a little bit of a hiccup, but he has been putting a lot of work in during the offseason, and I think he is definitely getting used to the size now and we’ll see where his final weight ends up.”

Redinger isn’t the only one with high hopes. Patrick Cutchember finished second in the WPIAL last season at 160, and Richey was fourth at 113.

“They look sharp and ready to roll,” Redinger said. “We graduated some good wrestlers, but we have some good ones coming in. We have a lot of holes right now, but we’ll get it figured out and be a strong team for the postseason.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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