A new gift has allowed the Pitt-Bradford Wrestling Club to improve its stance by competing against other collegiate teams.
Bradford wrestling supporters Kevin and Cindy Keane made the gift, which will cover the cost of new practice and competition wrestling mats and other one-time gear, rent for practice space at St. Bernard Elementary School, association dues, tournament entry fees, and transportation and lodging for the club's meets.
“The enthusiasm for wrestling is growing in leaps and bounds on our campus, and this generous gift from Kevin and Cindy Keane will go a long way in establishing a foundation for a sport,” said Dr. Livingston Alexander, president of Pitt-Bradford. “We're deeply grateful to Kevin and Cindy for their generous support.”
The club has joined the National Collegiate Wrestling Association, the only collegiate athletic governing body devoted exclusively to the sport of wrestling.
While Pitt-Bradford wrestlers will compete only at away matches this year, by the 2017-18 year, the club should be ready to host some home matches.
Students who are wrestling this year are Frederic Agou, a criminal justice major from Whitehall (125 lbs.); Kendric Moore, a chemistry and pre-medicine student from Verona, and Aaron Smith, an engineering major from New Bethlehem (both 133 lbs.); Kegen Hoopes, an environmental studies major from Cortland, Ohio, (149 lbs.); Jake Chamberlain, an environmental studies major from Andover, New York, (157 lbs.); Daniel Shields, a biology and pre-medicine student from Waynesboro (165 lbs.);
Mitchell Dowd, a criminal justice major from Pottstown, and Garrett Timko, an exercise science major from Clearfield (both 174 lbs.); Andrew McRandal, a biology and pre-medicine student from Pittsburgh (184 lbs.); and Bryce Whitman, a computer information systems and technology major from Bradford (197 lbs.); Joseph Blanco, a CIS&T major from Hewitt, New Jersey (235 lbs.); Benjamin Cochran, a petroleum technology major from Coudersport (heavyweight).
The club competed at the USCAA Wrestling Invitational Feb. 11 in State College and at a dual match at Penn State Mont Alto Feb. 12. Members will take part in the NCWA Mid-East Conference Championship Feb. 25.
Kevin and Cindy Keane would like to see the sport take hold at Pitt-Bradford and give local athletes a chance to attend college near home while pursuing their sport.
Kevin Keane grew up as one of five wrestling brothers. His youngest brother, Kyle, wrestled for Division II Pitt-Johnstown, and now the Keanes' two sons, Dillon and Colby, wrestle for Bradford Area High School.
Cindy Keane said she did not know a lot about wrestling until her own boys began wrestling with the Bradford Junior Wrestling Club. “I didn't realize what the sport can do for children as far as self-confidence,” she said.
Kevin Keane said the sport attracts and develops students with self-discipline and a good work ethic. “It's one of the toughest sports out there,” he said.
It was on the sidelines of junior wrestling that the Keanes met and became friends with another wrestling parent, Kathy Moonan.
Moonan is the manager of accounts payable at Pitt-Bradford and is now the wrestling club advisor. Like the Keanes, she wanted to see local athletes have a chance to attend college and continue competing near home.
Cindy Keane said, “It will be one more aspect to bring students in to the university.”
Athletic Director Bret Butler agreed. As a former admissions counselor, he has seen high school students turn away when they found out the university did not offer competitive wrestling.
“High school wrestling is huge in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Western New York,” Butler said. “Having a competitive club will appeal to a lot of students.”
The Keanes, who already spend time on campus walking their dogs and attending events, certainly hope so.
“I'd love to be able to walk down to the campus and watch wrestling,” Cindy Keane said.