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QV Athletic Officials Say Olympic Committee's Wrestling Decision Won't Affect Local Interest

Locally, student interest in wrestling is growing.

Quaker Valley's wrestling program continues to grow in popularity, something local coaches don't expect to change despite a recent decision to remove wrestling from the Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee announced its decision last week to eliminate wrestling from the Games as of 2020.

"As much as the decision to do away with wrestling as an Olympic sport is very disappointing, I do not think it will have an impact on our younger wrestlers interest and development," said Mike Mastroianni, director of athletics and activities.

Mastroianni said he believes the energy and enthusiasm generated by the coaches and team at the developmental level will continue to move youth participation forward and keep them engaged in the sport.

Jason Richey, Quaker Valley youth wrestling coach, agreed, saying he doesn't believe the decision will have an impact. Richey said when baseball was eliminated as an Olympic sport, such an event did not have an effect that he's aware of on youth baseball. 

"I doubt it would be any different for wrestling," Richey said.

According to the New York Times, a shift in priority has occurred as Olympic officials seek to add more telegenic sports and more widely visible stars in hopes of maintaining a sense of relevance, modernity and youthfulness in the Winter and the Summer Games.

Richey has already signed a petition along with thousands of others to keep the sport. There is a chance that the Olympic Committee could reverse its decision in May, when it considers a 26th sport to add to the 2020 Games, the Times reports. 

"Wrestlers are the most determined people in the world -- we learn persistence and determination from the sport and I suspect our effort will convince the Olympic Committee to keep the sport in the upcoming meetings in Russia.  The sport is one of the most popular in the world and is the national sport of Russia, Iran and many other countries in the part of the world," he said. 

Wrestling is considered by many the oldest competitive sport, one that made its first appearance at the ancient Olympic Games in 708 B.C.

For Western Pennsylvania in particular, interest is growing. Quaker Valley approved a cooperative agreement this year with Moon Area School District to provide QV varsity and junior varsity wrestlers an opportunity to compete.

Meanwhile, the Quaker Valley Youth Wrestling program for 5- to 12-year-olds has grown to 42 wrestlers this year, with the hope to have more than 60 wrestlers on the team next year.  

Richey, who travels to tournaments all around the area, said they are packed with children. One tournament in Hopewell actually sold out, he said. 

"In Sewickley, our Quaker Valley wrestling team has actually grown throughout the year as parents find out what a great program we have and how valuable the sport is to the development of young boys," he said. 

"Our kids have a ton of fun, make friends and, most importantly, learn a lot of life lessons that the other sports cannot provide."  

Parents can learn more about the program at www.quakervalleywrestling.com

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