Settled in at 107 pounds, Fox Chapel sophomore emerges as top performer

Saturday, January 14, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Landon Funk didn’t have a secure spot in the lineup during his freshman season on the Fox Chapel wrestling team.

Throughout the season, Funk had to wrestle off with Michael Worsen for the spot at 106 pounds. Funk didn’t always win and would voluntarily bump up to 113 pounds.

What resulted from giving up so much weight laid the foundation for Funk’s sophomore season. After finishing 16-15 and being pinned 10 times as a freshman, Funk has seen serious improvements.

Now wrestling at his more natural weight of 107, Funk has accrued a 13-2 record, pinned four opponents and hasn’t been pinned himself.

“I knew that if I could go out there and battle with top kids at 113, I could battle with anybody,” Funk said. “I could move kids around at 113, so I knew I could move kids around at 107. I just needed to go out there and have a little bit of fight.”

Fox Chapel coach Michael Frank was pleased with how willing Funk was to bump up a weight class last season. Making the transition from the middle school level to the high school level can be tough. When Funk was willing to bump up, that allowed Fox Chapel to better fill out its lineup.

“Landon getting a year of varsity experience was a major transition,” Frank said. “He’s wrestled his whole life and wants to wrestle in big-time tournaments and has been competing hard. He’s one of the hardest workers in the room and has no problem knowing what he needs to do to improve.”

Worsen has bumped up to 114 pounds and has an 8-6 record so far this season. Funk is second on the team in wins this season, while Worsen is fourth. Junior Josh Alexander leads the team with an 11-3 record, while sophomore Youssef Abdelsalam is 9-5.

Despite the competition between them, Funk said that he and Worsen have become good training partners.

“We made sure that when we are wrestling off, we make sure we aren’t friends inside the room,” Funk said. “Outside of the room, in practice, we’re close. We want to be a strong one-two duo.”

For Funk, he spent the offseason trying to work on moving better on his feet. He felt he was too passive as a freshman and wanted to force the action more.

After recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered during baseball season, Funk worked out at the Mat Factory to try and pick up the pace.

“One-hundred percent, I wanted to be more physical,” Funk said. “I was going back a lot last season. This year, I’ve been pushing the pace and going after guys.”

Frank highlighted Funk’s improvement by noting how he makes adjustments. On Dec. 27, Funk took a 5-3 loss to Owen Campbell of Plum. When the two wrestlers met a week later, Funk was able to grind out a 3-2 victory.

That will help Funk challenge for the medal stand as postseason tournaments grow closer.

“There aren’t any brand new techniques he needs to learn,” Frank said. “He just needs to clean up a little bit of everything he does. Landon needs to do what the plan is and execute it. We’ve talked a lot about the mental side of things.”


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