North Xtra: Son follows dad in bid to succeed

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Austin Leon doesn't feel any added pressure to being the son of one of the most successful wrestlers in North Allegheny High School history.

Chris Leon won two PIAA Class AAA titles during his career with the Tigers. He won the title at 167 pounds in his junior year, then claimed the 185-pound crown in his senior year.

"My dad was able to accomplish a lot during his career at North Allegheny," said Austin Leon, who recently completed his sophomore year at Seneca Valley High School. "I've watched the video of his state championship match as a senior, but I've never felt the pressure to match what he did. He just wants me to give 100 percent in every match."

Austin Leon began following in his father's footsteps when he was just 11 years old.

"I started wrestling in sixth grade," Leon said. "I didn't know if I would like it, but I grew to enjoy it and stuck with it."

Leon did well enough in middle school that Seneca Valley coach Kevin Wildrick moved him up to the varsity for his freshman year. He placed second in Class AAA Section 3 at 132 pounds that season. He finished with a 23-11 record after a 1-2 finish in the WPIAL/Southwest Region tournament.

"It was a surprise because I was young for my grade," said Leon, referring to his varsity debut. "It was a bit rough competing in a weight class that is dominated by upperclassmen, but overall I did pretty well."

Leon moved up to the 145-pound weight class for his sophomore season. He placed fifth in the section, then posted a 2-2 record in the WPIAL tournament, falling short of a PIAA berth.

"I didn't do as well as I had hoped [in the postseason tournaments]," said Leon, who finished with a 28-13 record. "It showed me that I have to do everything I can during the offseason to be ready for my junior year."

Leon has been wrestling with two clubs since the 2012-13 season ended.

"I've been working out with the 'Angry Fish' and 'One More Period,'" Leon said. "On Memorial Day weekend, the OMP [One More Period] took a team to the Battle at the Beach Duals in Virginia Beach. It was a folkstyle tournament. I had a 5-2 record, but the team didn't do as well because we were forfeiting a couple weight classes."

Leon also qualified for the USA Wrestling Cadet National Tournament, which begins July 12 at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D.

"The [PAWF] state tournament was at Chambersburg," Leon said. "I placed first at 152 pounds in freestyle. I have no interest in Greco-Roman."

Leon is eager to take his first trip to Fargo, but isn't looking forward to the long bus ride.

"I talked with [North Allegheny's] Dom Forys and he told me what to expect," Leon said. "He also told me about the long boring bus trip to Fargo."

Leon will be competing without a cheering section.

"My family will not be attending, but they can watch me on," Leon said. "My goal is to finish among the top eight in my weight class and become an All-American."



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