North Xtra: Fox Chapel is off to fine start

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Ron Frank had to think for a minute when asked when the last time was that his Fox Chapel wrestling team opened a season with six consecutive victories.

"It was probably the 2008-09 team," Frank said. "We had a 29-4 record that year."

There's one big difference between that squad and the current squad.

"Our current squad is much younger than that team," Frank said. "We only have two seniors on this team."

Fox Chapel is coming off a rare losing season, as the Foxes posted a 7-9 record last season.

"It had been a dozen years or so since we had a losing record," Frank said. "We had five senior starters on last year's squad, but also had five freshmen starting," Frank said. "It was a tough debut for them, but they learned what it takes to be successful."

The key to being a successful wrestler is to put in the extra workout time during the offseason.

"I have a group of kids who love wrestling and are willing to put in the extra workouts," Frank said. "A bunch of my kids attended summer camps. A handful of them went to J Robinson's intensive camps."

Five of Fox Chapel's six victories came at the Hampton Dawg Duals, a 10-team dual tournament that took place on Dec. 7.

In pool play, Fox Chapel defeated Baldwin, 76-3, Shaler Area, 51-22, West Allegheny, 50-26, and Mount Pleasant, 54-24. The Foxes met Mt. Lebanon in the title match and recorded a 38-30 victory.

"I was very pleased with the way the kids wrestled at the Hampton Dawg Duals," Frank said. "It was a good way to start the season."

Four nights later, Fox Chapel opened its Class AAA Sub-Section 3B schedule with a 49-22 win against Central Catholic.

"We did get a break with Central Catholic, since a few of its starters were still playing football," Frank said. "But I'll take a little luck because we didn't have any luck last year."

Frank ranks sixth on the WPIAL's all-time career victory list and is one of only 15 coaches who have reached the 300-win plateau. He now has a 358-258-7 record in 33 seasons with the Foxes. The only active WPIAL coach with more victories than Frank is Kiski Area's Chuck Tursky, who ranks No. 1 on the list with a 475-136-2 record.

"North Allegheny is the section favorite once again," Frank said. "After them, everybody else is well balanced. The second spot is up for grabs."

Corey Mahon and Richard Giovenetti are Fox Chapel's only seniors. Both had an 18-14 record last season and both are 5-1 this season. Mahon is competing at 160 pounds, while Giovenetti is at 195.

"Corey is a four-year starter," Frank said. "He's the third of five brothers. His younger brother Mike is starting for us this year as a 170-pound freshman. The fifth is still in middle school."

Mike Mahon is also off to a good start with a 4-2 record.

Andrew Kopco (6-0 at 113) and Ian Moritz (6-0 at 132) are both unbeaten for the Foxes.

"Ian wrestled for Central Catholic two years ago, but didn't wrestle last year," Frank said. "He came back to Fox Chapel this year and we're happy to have him back."

Others off to a solid start for Fox Chapel are Pat Imhof (5-1 at 120), Darrius Booker (4-2 at 138), Tyler Heasley (4-2 at 152), and Darnell Foster (4-2 at 220).

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