Quaker Valley wrestling team celebrates 1st PIAA playoff berth

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Friday, February 7, 2020 | 6:53 PM


A year after finishing fourth in the WPIAL Class AA team tournament, the Quakers finished one place better this season and earned the program’s first PIAA tournament berth.

“It was a great run,” Quaker Valley sophomore Patrick Cutchember said. “From the beginning of the year, one of our goals was to place at least in the top three in the WPIAL and move onto the state tournament.

“For our young guys, they can see the progress we’re making. Now, the goal is to keep improving and take second or first next year.”

The Quakers defended their Section 2 title and beat Fort Cherry and Highlands to reach the WPIAL semifinals. They ran into perennial power Burrell and dropped a 57-15 decision. They rebounded to beat McGuffey, another top WPIAL program, 52-27, to finish third.

“Getting to face Burrell, it’s good for all the younger kids to see what we need to be,” Cutchember said. “As far as McGuffey, that was a confidence booster that we can go and beat one of the best teams in the WPIAL.”

It earned Quaker Valley a trip to the PIAA tournament. The Quakers had to trek to Erie to battle Corry in a preliminary match. The Beavers posted a 46-26 win to eliminate the Quakers.

“I am very proud of what they have accomplished. I know we were disappointed in the outcome,” Quaker Valley coach Mike Heinl said. “When you make it that far, your weaknesses start to get exposed. We have some holes in our lineup, and we couldn’t get anything going.

“The atmosphere was terrific was up there. That gym was hostile and packed. It was a great experience for our kids to see that environment. Even our kids that lost, they went out there and battled. We have some young kids going out there going against some of the other team’s best kids. It’s tough.

“It was a tall order for us, and it just didn’t work out. Hopefully, they learned something from the way it all played out. It really matters what happens in April, May, June, July and August. If these kids don’t step on a mat or pick up a weight then, we’ll be right back where we were – fighting for that third or fourth spot again. If these kids dedicate themselves, we’ll be in good shape.”

The program’s future excites Heinl.

“I think we have the potential here of doing better than a WPIAL championship,” he said. “For a team like Quaker Valley to even have that on their mind is a great accomplishment. This program was built the right way. It started with strong boosters, grass roots, getting some dads and moms involved. The school district adopted it. They’ve done everything right.

“Now, it’s up to the kids to go out there and continue to work hard and execute and bring a championship home to Quaker Valley.”

The individual postseason begins on Valentine’s Day with the sectional tournament. Several Quakers are expected to advance. Conner Redinger is a two-time WPIAL champ. He won at 106 as a freshman and at 132 last year. Justin Richey was fourth at 113, while Cutchember was second at 160 last year, but moved up to 182.

“I am optimistic Patrick Cutchember, Donovan Cutchember, Justin Richey and Conner Redinger will make some noise and make it out to Hershey and get out on the podium,” Heinl said. “For our younger wrestlers, I think it’s possible for all of them to make it to regionals at IUP. Then, who knows? We have some kids who might be able to sneak in there and get a ticket to Hershey.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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