All-American Wresting Club has rich history of training young wrestlers
Rob Waller’s All-American Wrestling Club couldn’t have asked for a better endorsement.
Penn State senior Jason Nolf, a Kittanning graduate, credited Waller and his club’s training after he won his second NCAA Division I title last March.
Nolf sustained a serious knee injury late in the regular season, which forced him to miss more than a month.
He was able to rehabilitate the knee and come back to win the title.
Nolf told reporters that during his rehab he went back to the basics he learned when he first started going to All-American to train with Waller. All-American is located at Waller’s home in Trauger, Mt. Pleasant Township.
“The things I learned from ‘Coach’ helped me win this title,” Nolf said. “I owe a lot to him.”
In fact, Nolf spent some time at one of Waller’s camps this summer instructing youth wrestlers on those same basics.
“I love growing the sport of wrestling and helping kids get better and achieve their goals,” Nolf said. “It was a cool opportunity for me, and it was a lot of fun.”
Some of the top WPIAL wrestlers got their start at All-American, including Frazier junior Thayne Lawrence, the returning 160-pound Class AA state champion; Mt. Pleasant freshmen Luke Geibig, Noah Gnibus, Noah Teeters and Dayton Pitzer; Latrobe junior Gabe Willochell; Derry sophomore Ty Cymmerman; Penn-Trafford senior Nick Coy; and Hempfield senior Kyle Burkholder.
All-American isn’t the only club around Pittsburgh. There are many outstanding clubs where youth wrestlers can learn and train against some of the best in the area.
Young Guns has various locations, including Franklin Regional and Norwin high schools. Quest is near Canonsburg, Roughhouse is near Derry, OMP (One More Period) is near Cranberry, Pitt has the Pittsburgh Wrestling Club and Seton Hill Wrestling Club is in Greensburg.
“All the clubs around here are very good,” Norwin wrestling coach Vince DeAugustine said. “We are very fortunate to have successful clubs that have good technicians.
“If you want to be a state champion, you have to do more than practice from 3 to 5. You have to stay after practice, I’ll stick around. Or go to a club and learn the basics and to sharpen your skills. ‘Iron sharpens iron’ against other good wrestlers.”
As Nolf prepares for a chance to win his third NCAA title, he said he will implement some of the basic techniques he learned at All-American with his crazy style.
“Last year, I had to be more conservative,” Nolf said. “It was a little boring. But that’s behind me now, and I’m focused on winning another title. Gratitude is what I learned the most from the injury, I was just happy to get the opportunity.”
Nolf isn’t the only national champion that comes back to work Waller’s camps.
Waller’s son Robby, Greensburg Salem/Pitt Johnstown’s Chris Eddins, Mt. Pleasant/Pitt-Johnstown’s Brandon Newill, Elizabeth Forward/Waynesburg’s Jake Evans and Shaler/Lehigh’s Troy Letters got their starts with All-American and return to work camps.
“Troy’s dad put the roof on my building,” Waller said. “It was a trade-off; I’ll train your son for a roof.
“What pleases me the most is having all these guys come back and work with the kids. I’ve had 19 Olympians in the room and some great college coaches.”
The club, the oldest in the area, began in 1973.
Waller said they start with the basics to form a good base and add more.
“I’m always trying to learn new stuff to teach the kids,” Waller said. “We learned the funk (a defensive move) from a wrestler from Cornell. Mike Yancosky told me about this kid, and he came down and Robby quickly learned.
“He was teaching it to coaches when he was in eighth grade. He made it famous, and now everyone has it in their repertoire.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.