Landon Funk is Fox Chapel Area’s latest wrestling champion. He recently captured first place in the 114-pound weight class out of a field of 28 contestants at the 22nd annual Allegheny County Wrestling Championships. He started off with a bye in the first round and proceeded to pin his next three opponents. His contributions to the Foxes boys wrestling team also are a big reason why the group is on the verge of winning its first section championship since 1971.
Landon, a junior, recently answered some questions about how he got into the sport, his progression throughout the years, and a lot more.
Question: Can you describe what your first thoughts and emotions were as the clock wound down and you became the champion?
Answer: I couldn’t believe it. It’s been a dream come true of mine since I was 5 years old walking around with my brother selling 50-50s at meets. Being on the big stage and getting the win felt really nice, especially in my home gym.
Q: Had you wrestled a lot of the opponents you faced in the past?
A: The first match I never wrestled that kid, and the next one I wrestled earlier in the season and pinned. The third opponent I’d never seen before.
Q: What about the semis and finals?
A: In my semifinal match, I wrestled someone I’ve gone up against since I was little, but I’d never beaten him before. This was my first time, so that was a nice hard win, and I really feel like I earned that one. I think it was my best match of my entire high school career. I set the pace and got him in a position he did not want to be in. I think that was even more exciting than winning the finals. (Coach) Mike and I shared a special moment after that one because he’s been with me this whole time. My final match was against my childhood wrestling best friend in club, so it was nice wrestling with him in the finals knowing that our dreams came true on the big stage in the finals.
Q: Where did you place at the county championships in the past?
A: Last year at counties I got sixth place, and the year before, seventh.
Q: You’ve made huge improvements. What have you done to improve your skills that led to your success this year?
A: It’s a big jump this year. My coaches and I, especially coach Trevor Hartless when he was running practices, went over a bunch of things I needed to work on, and I had a few matches in the offseason to prepare me for the season. After those matches, I went straight back to the (wrestling) room and practiced, working on different positions that I knew I needed to work on. I started right after the season ended (in 2023), and maybe three weeks later, I was back in the room working.
Q: What do you think are your strengths as a wrestler?
A: Mostly on my feet, going in, and attacking nonstop. During the offseason, we were getting my feet moving a lot more and staying active with my hands. If you push the pace, not a lot of kids can keep up with you, especially the good kids. If you shock them with your pace, you catch them off guard and they won’t wrestle the way they know how to wrestle.
Q: When did you first realize you had some talent in the sport?
A: I think my seventh- and eighth-grade years when I qualified for a state tournament. I thought I had some potential, and then going into my high school career and working with some of my coaches, I knew if I worked hard, my dreams could come true.
Q: How do you keep up your stamina and focus through the long haul, such as during this past weekend over two days when you had to wrestle so many times?
A: It’s all about staying off your feet, keeping your legs healthy, and not getting tired or doing any extra work that doesn’t need to be done before a match. One of our former coaches, Bob Siar, he told me what he used to do before a match and that was to drink hot tea and honey. He said it gives you energy for your matches and is easy to digest, so that’s what I’ve been doing, and I felt really well.
Q: What has been the arc of your career since your freshman year?
A: I went 16-15 my freshman year, was 30-10 last season, and now I’m at 21-3 so far.
Q: How did you get into wrestling?
Landon: My brother started wrestling, and I started going into the (wrestling) room when I was about 3 years old, and I liked it. I told my mom it’s what I want to do. I really didn’t compete until I was 5. Mike Frank has been my coach since I started wrestling. I wrestled in the youth program for him for as many years as I could and then at the middle school and now in high school.
Q: This title must be a nice boost of confidence for the rest of the season and then into sectionals and WPIALs.
A: Going into the postseason knowing I just won counties is just going to give me a good boost knowing I can compete with anyone I go up against. So I just have to take it to everyone, no backing down, and just wrestle my own match that I know how to wrestle.
Q: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
A: That’s a difficult one. Can it be funny? I love chicken parmesan. That’s my post-match meal every week. My dad’s making it for me tonight – post-championship meal!