Quaker Valley wrestlers turn attention to individual tournaments
The script to Quaker Valley’s wrestling season wasn’t supposed to include injuries that would derail some of the team’s goals.
With a few more healthy athletes, the team might have wrestled for the Class AA WPIAL championship last weekend against Burrell, which won its 13th straight title.
No. 4 Quaker Valley placed fourth at the AA WPIAL Tournament after beating Valley, 57-16, and Elizabeth Forward, 48-30. The team fell short of advancing to the finals after losing 38-35 to Freedom, a squad that it beat by one point earlier in the season with a fuller roster.
“We’re really proud of them and the way they have rallied around each other,” coach Mike Heinl said.
“We’ve been snake-bit with injuries from Day 1, and we managed to fill some of the holes. I think our team knew our limitations, and we really went after it in the Freedom matches.”
The team lost 56-19 in the third-place match to Beth-Center.
“I think we all wanted to win and place third, but Beth-Center is a really good team, too,” senior Geoff Magin said. “We didn’t match up well against them. They were strong all around, and we had a couple of holes.”
Quaker Valley has turned its attention toward individual section and WPIAL tournaments, which are one week away. Heinl expects several wrestlers to have a shot to place at WPIALs and to earn bids to regionals and eventually states.
Conner Redinger (22-5) at 132 and John Rocco Kazalas (24-2) at 145 are the top-ranked wrestlers in their classes. Patrick Cutchember (22-2) at 160 and Magin (14-7) at 170 are ranked third.
Unranked wrestlers like Bradley Fadeley, Justin Richey and Donovan Cutchember will be threats in every match, too.
Heinl’s top active wrestlers are hitting their stride just before individual postseason matches.
“Patrick Cutchember and Justin Richey have really come on strong as of late,” Heinl said. “Brad Fadeley, who was not going to get on the bus this weekend because he wasn’t feeling well, decided to go, dug deep and wrestled hard. We are peaking at the right time. We have a good chance of sending five or six wrestlers to Hershey.”
Magin was a question mark at one point, having sat out several matches because of minor injuries.
With a full bill of health, he recently returned at 195 for the postseason.
“I feel really strong right now, and I’m really excited for this time of the year,” Magin said. “I tried staying at 170, but my body was telling me I needed to grow. I’ve felt good at 195 going against some bigger guys, because I can be faster and I feel I could have a conditioning advantage.”
Magin’s goal is to win a state championship in his new weight class.
Kids saying they wanted to go to states has been a recurring theme.
“If I don’t have five or six kids on the podium at WPIALs, I’ll be shocked,” Heinl said. “They’ll go to Indiana for regionals, and I expect those kids will qualify for Hershey, where anything can happen. Kid after kid I talked to, they all said they want to be in Hershey. They want to be on the podium. They want to be the state champion.”
If Magin, Kazalas and Redinger qualify for states, they would be the first wrestlers in the program’s three-year history to earn at least two bids to the PIAA tournament.
“That’d be amazing,” Magin said. “Last year, going with Conner was really fun. I definitely want to take more people this year to have that experience.”
Others who navigate the WPIAL and regional tournaments to take the trip to Hershey will be first-timers.
“All the kids didn’t just say they wanted to go to states,” Heinl said. “They worked at it from May and June to now. They were practicing, in the weight room and wrestling all over the place in freestyle and Greco Roman. They put in the work. Now they gotta execute the way they now how to wrestle.”
Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer.