TribLive’s Paul Schofield to take place in Southwestern Pennsylvania Wrestling Hall of Fame

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Friday, March 29, 2024 | 7:29 PM


Before he started as a full-time sports writer out of college in 1980, Paul Schofield’s exposure to high school wrestling was minimal.

As a kid, he remembers watching the state finals on WQED-TV, hearing about far-away places such as Tyrone or Shikellamy or Shickshinny and wondering what they were like.

When he graduated from Frazier in 1976, the school didn’t have a wrestling team. While a student at California State College, he remembered seeing national champion wrestler Bill DePaoli jogging around campus at all hours of the day and night to make sure he made weight.

When he started at the Connellsville Daily Courier in 1980 — Schofield covered the PIAA wrestling championships for the first time in 1981 — Connellsville, Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland had good teams, so, to do his job well, he had to learn about the sport.

He picked the brain of legendary Falcons coach Tom Dolde. He listened to the radio broadcast team of Sully Gambone and Don Lynn while watching matches so he could learn the moves.

He quickly got the hang of it, and, more than four decades later, Schofield is one of the most respected writers covering Pennsylvania high school wrestling.

On Saturday night, he will be inducted into the Southwestern Pennsylvania Hall of Fame during Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic festivities at Peters Township.

“It’s something you never expect, but it’s neat to be honored by your peers and coaches and former wrestlers that I’ve covered,” Schofield said.

Schofield said some of his favorite stories have involved underdogs rising up and doing something extraordinary, such as winning a state championship.

He’s covered his share of favorites, of course, as well.

At the risk of forgetting someone he would have liked to mention, he rattled off a list of athletes whose amazing accomplishments he chronicled.

Recent Westmoreland County greats such as Franklin Regional’s Nico Megaludis and Michael Kemmerer and Norwin’s Kurtis Phipps.

Four-time state champs such as Jefferson-Morgan’s Cary Kolat, Derry’s Jimmy Gulibon and Frazier’s Rune Lawrence.

“And (Lawrence) happens to be from my alma mater. He’s stolen my thunder,” Schofield joked.

Schofield does not have a hard time singling out the best high school wrestler he’s ever covered.

“No. 1 would be Spencer Lee,” he said. “What a super kid he is, a great individual.”

Schofield especially remembers telling the story of the time the Franklin Regional grad, when he was in eighth grade, decided to challenge his mother, a former Olympian, to see if her jiu-jitsu game was still strong.

“She tapped him out,” Schofield said with a laugh.

Since starting at the Tribune-Review in 1995, Schofield has covered 30 state tournaments. At least one Westmoreland County wrestler has brought home gold from all 30.

Needless to say, Schofield has seen dramatic changes in the sport. He saw the power in PIAA wrestling shift from the eastern half of the state to the west. Within the WPIAL, he’s seen the hotbeds move from Washington and Greene counties to Westmoreland and Fayette counties.

“The sport has changed,” he said. “A lot of the moves haven’t, but it’s changed. Kids are stronger nowadays. They’re in better shape, for the most part, and the cream comes to the top.”

Schofield is one of four inductees in the Class of 2024, joining Matt Lebe, Ken Hackman and Jim Akerly.

Lebe, the head coach at Franklin Regional, was a three-time WPIAL champion and three-time PIAA medalist at Jeannette. He went 132-10, won two EWL titles and was an NCAA All-American in 2005 for West Virginia.

Hackman, a 1984 Derry graduate, went 95-23-2 in high school, winning a WPIAL title and placing third in the state as a senior. He went 101-10 and won two national titles at Cal (Pa.). He coached at Derry from 1994 to 2000.

Akerly, the founder of Quest School of Wrestling in Washington, won 119 matches at West Virginia and was an All-American in 1987 before becoming a successful college coach.

Jonathan Bombulie is the TribLive assistant sports editor. A Greensburg native, he was a hockey reporter for two decades, covering the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for 17 seasons before joining the Trib in 2015 and covering the Penguins for four seasons, including Stanley Cup championships in 2016-17. He can be reached at jbombulie@triblive.com.

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