Wright has sights set on junior worlds

Bald Eagle Area standout Quentin Wright and some of his future teammates are receiving their own Olympic experiences later this month.

Wright won the 163-pound title during last weekend’s FILA Junior Freestyle Championships in Las Vegas to earn a trip to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Wright, who signed with Penn State last fall, will train in Colorado Springs from May 18-24 and encounters with 2008 Olympic hopefuls should be plentiful during the week.

“It’s going to be very exciting,” Wright said. “I’m going to be training with the best guys in our country.”During the trip, Wright will attempt to earn a spot on the United States team for this summer’s FILA Junior World Championships in Turkey. Wright’s victory last weekend gives him an automatic spot in the finals of the FILA junior world team trials. The five wrestlers who finished behind Wright will compete for the other finals spot in Colorado Springs.

Wright, who won his second PIAA Class AAA title in March, also finished second in Greco-Roman this past week.

Wright won his freestyle title by defeating multiple proven college wrestlers, including All-Americans Jon Reader of Iowa State and Stephen Dwyer of Nebraska.

“I went out there expecting to win and I didn’t want to let myself down,” said Wright, a 171-pounder during his senior season at BEA. “I wrestled hard and smart. It wasn’t easy getting down to 163, but a lot of the guys were the same size.”

Wright traveled to Colorado Springs last year after a fifth-place finish in the Greco division. Despite qualifying in Greco again, Wright said his focus is making this year’s junior world freestyle team.Wright will be surrounded by future teammates in Colorado Springs.

Penn State freshman Desmond Moore won the 110.25-pound freestyle title last week and sophomore Bubba Jenkins claimed the 154.25 division. Freshman Cameron Wade (fourth, 264.5) also placed in the FILA bracket to earn a trip to Colorado Springs. Freshmen Tim Darling (154.25) and Jared Platt (211.5) failed to place in the top six of their respective weights last weekend.

Sophomore Brad Pataky (121), junior John Laboranti (264.5) and freshman Colby Pisani (138.75) earned their trips to Colorado Springs by placing in the top eight during last month’s University Freestyle Nationals at Akron, Ohio.

Penn State coach Troy Sunderland closely monitors wrestlers’ freestyle activities and he attended last weekend’s tournament in Las Vegas.

“It’s quite an expense going across the country to Las Vegas so we were looking to take guys who we knew it would be productive in their development,” Sunderland said. “We were targeting guys 20-and-under and some sophomores that are young enough to compete. We are happy with the performances. We are getting what we are looking for from the freestyle training.”

Pataky and Jenkins have developed into the Nittany Lions’ freestyle aces. Pataky has qualified for this year’s Olympic Trials and Jenkins, a NCAA runner-up at 149 pounds, is attempting to defend the FILA junior world freestyle title he won last year in Beijing.

Central Mountain’s Alton brothers, like Wright and Jenkins, are quickly emerging onto the 20-and-under freestyle scene. Dylan won the 132.5-pound title last week and Andrew finished fourth at 138.75. The Altons, who are sophomores, are also eligible to train in Colorado Springs this month.

NOTES: Sunderland confirmed that 184-pounder Mike Ward is transferring to Rider. Ward, a two-time Ohio state champion, went 17-10 competing in open tournaments this past season. Ward is the third wrestler to transfer to Rider from Penn State in the past 16 months.