Wrestling Championships a Source of Pride

The entire Frank family, from former longtime Fox Chapel Area head wrestling coach Ron to current coach Michael to brother Tim, never tire of talking about the Allegheny County Wrestling Championships, hosted every year at Fox Chapel Area High School. It’s in their blood and something they’ve all lived and helped organize for 22 years now, especially tournament director Ron, a founding member of the largest event of its kind in the county.

Last year, more than 500 wrestlers and 38 teams registered for the tournament and competed for more than $7,200 in awards and bragging rights. The Franks say this year’s event on January 19 and 20 will draw around that same number and, once again, include many of the top wrestlers in Pennsylvania. College coaches and representatives also are invited to scout the wrestlers.

It’s not only the Franks who have been involved with the tournament for years.

“Many of this year’s high school wrestlers grew up watching this tournament as their parents helped with all of the volunteer work that makes this event a success,” says head coach Michael Frank. “With close to half of our roster getting started in our Fox Chapel Youth Wrestling program, a lot of our athletes have been excited to compete in the county tournament for quite some time. We’re currently 11-1 as a team (as of January 12), with some great individual success.”

The Foxes have had team success at the championships in recent years but are continuing to push to get higher in the final team standings.

Among the Foxes wrestlers competing are seniors Josh Alexander and Alex Kaufmann, and junior Landon Funk, all of whom are seeking their third all-county designations. Another bright spot is junior Michael Worsen, who is riding a 15-0 winning streak (as of January 12) and won the 121-pound weight class at the recent Southmoreland Holiday Wrestling Classic. He is the first Foxes grappler to win that title.

The other Fox Chapel Area medalists returning from last year are juniors D’Angelo Hamilton and Jack Viti, and sophomore Joey Geller, and all have a legitimate chance of walking away with medals.


Unsung Heroes Behind the Scenes

There’s a lot that goes on off the mats that many people don’t know about but is crucial to the preparation and operation of the massive event, which is considered one of the best-run wrestling tournaments in the region.

“We begin working on the tournament in the summer,” says tournament director Ron Frank. “There are dozens and dozens of community volunteers, including current parents, parents of alumni wrestlers, alumni wrestlers, faculty, doctors and trainers recruited by (Fox Chapel Area assistant athletic director and athletic trainer) John Panos, and students in the graphics and the music departments. Sixteen businesses in the community also help us as sponsors. They also work at the scoring tables, refreshment stand, and in the cafeteria, print the programs, and transport wrestling mats.”

No matter who you are rooting for, the Allegheny County High School Wrestling Championships are an experience to watch as hundreds of grapplers put their hearts on the mats after many years of grueling, arduous training and hard work.