Wrestlers representing 38 schools in Allegheny County will be sparring for bragging rights and top awards at the 21st annual Allegheny County Wrestling Championships, the largest tournament of its kind in the area.
The event will be held January 20 and 21 at Fox Chapel Area High School. Live results will be posted throughout the two days on the FLOARENA and PA Power Wrestling websites.
“We try to make it the best experience possible for high school athletes,” says tournament director Ron Frank, a patron of the sport and volunteer coach for the Foxes wrestling team. “It is open to all secondary school wrestlers, whether they are from large or small schools, male or female, or attend private or public schools. Each day, the matches are officiated by 12 of the best referees in Western Pennsylvania.”
In 2022, Fox Chapel Area placed ninth out of an overall registration of 34 teams. Six Foxes reached the podium, four of whom are back this year – junior Alexander Kaufmann (4th), senior Trevor Katz (6th), junior Josh Alexander (7th), and sophomore Landon Funk (7th).
Head coach Michael Frank believes this year’s group can place higher, thanks to some high-quality young athletes who joined the team this season after gaining experience through the area’s youth wrestling programs.
An Event for All
Over the years, the championships have become more than just a wrestling event – the weekend is now more like a huge wrestling talent display that brings together hundreds of grapplers and their families, fans, students, alumni, local businesses, and college recruiters.
John Panos, Fox Chapel Area High School’s head athletic trainer and assistant athletic director, plays an important role each year by reaching out to his student trainers from Pitt and Duquesne universities, and area physicians to attend to the athletes over the two-day competition.
As an added perk, people who want to plant themselves at the high school for the weekend so as not to miss any of the action, have a full spread of tasty foods from which to choose. Each year, many volunteers, including parents of current and former wrestlers, bake and cook, some for weeks in advance, and donate homemade food that ranges from rigatoni to healthy salads to a large selection of desserts.
Even some of the singers from the high school choral program’s Madrigal Singers add to the weekend by singing the national anthem at the opening ceremony.
Additionally, Ron Frank, longtime Foxes wrestling head coach, says some local business owners who wrestled for Fox Chapel Area as long as 50 years ago contribute financially to offset the cost of awards.
Funds raised from the tournament go to advance all wrestling programs sponsored by the district for youth in kindergarten through 12th grade. Some specific beneficiaries are the Foxes Wrestling Club and the wrestling boosters, and the use of funds includes buying uniforms and clothing for elementary, middle school, and high school athletes; equipment; end-of-year awards; and financial support to pay for clinicians and various camps throughout the year.
The tournament is a seeded event with each team permitted to enter a maximum of two wrestlers in each weight class with a total of 18 wrestlers per team. Initial rounds begin at 11:30 a.m. on Friday and end at 6 p.m. after the quarterfinal bouts. On Saturday, wrestling starts up again at 10 a.m. The semifinals are scheduled for 11:30 a.m., and consolation semis will begin at 2:30 p.m. The parade of champions and finals will begin at 4:30 p.m.
“Over the past 20 years, wrestlers who later earned NCAA Championships and All-American status have participated in the Allegheny County Wrestling Championships,” says Ron Frank. “We expect a great level of expertise and competition again.”