McKeesport, Pa. – The 2014-15 Penn State Greater Allegheny wrestling season saw many obstacles faced, all the while freshman Rodjrecko Christian (Pittsburgh, Pa./Westinghouse) worked very hard all season long to keep his team on the map.
Clay Karadus returned for his fourth season as head coach of the men's wrestling program with intentions of competing once again at the high level of competition throughout the Penn State Athletic University Conference (PSUAC).
"For majority of the season, we competed fairly well in all events. I expected a solid effort from every wrestler that took the mat this year." Karadus continued, "My goals were to have as close to a full line-up as possible and have at several PSUAC/United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) Tournament and Conference place winners and at least three National Qualifiers."
It did not take long for Christian to make a name for himself in the conference, as he was quickly highlighted by the USCAA for Wrestling Player of the Week for the week of November 19th, 2014. He was then nominated again, not only by the USCAA, but the PSUAC as well come following weeks. He also aided his team in several victories, one of them being against PSUAC rivalry Penn State Beaver.
"Rodjrecko was definitely the most noteworthy wrestler for the year. He showcased a different kind of talent that this team needed to revolve around in order to be successful." stated Karadus. "He was the leader everyone needed and performed his duties, not just as a wrestler, but as a student as well, to his full potential."
Another notable wrestler, freshman Jaire Mondesir (Paulding County, Ga./East Paulding), was noted PSUAC Wrestler of the week during the week of December 16th, 2014. Mondesir earned two victories in Greater Allegheny's PSUAC tri-match at Penn State Beaver. "Mondesir was another freshman that I thought had the right talent that molded this team together." said Karadus. "He was another force on the team that easily motivated those around him every time he stepped on the mat."
Returning from winter break, the wrestling team lacked in numbers, however, Karadus continued to motivate the remaining wrestlers for the remainder of the season to finish out as strongly as they possibly could. "Although our numbers were slim, this has been one of the strongest finishes of a season in my coaching career," stated Karadus.
Christian competed phenomenally throughout the conference, which qualified his place during a competitive journey to nationals. The freshman went on to be named the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) Mid-East Regional Qualifiers for the first time in Penn State Greater Allegheny wrestling history. "This was something that has not been done in a Greater Allegheny uniform," said Karadus. "For a freshman to come in and claim a title of this stature, it was definitely something that not only I was proud of, but also the Penn State Greater Allegheny community."
Following the NCWA Regional Qualifiers in Glen Burnie, Maryland, Christian was then invited to represent Greater Allegheny in the NCWA Championships in Allen, Texas. Christian made it all the way to quarter-finals, then dropped to Stevan Webb of the University of Connecticut. "His performance was solid throughout both tournaments." Karadus added. "For going as far as he did, with this being his first year competing at the collegiate level, was a great achievement. When he returns for next season of competition, Rodjrecko will know exactly what needs to be done in order to better lead and prepare his team and bring home several more championships."
With this season at a close, Karadus says, "I'll be bringing in several wrestlers in that will complement the foundation we have set and meet the expectations of being a true student-athlete." He concludes, "It'll be a fun and exciting season, and I look forward to coaching these guys to perform their best, not only just on the mat, but in the classroom as well."
Congratulations to the wrestlers that participated throughout the season and we are looking forward to the growth of next year's program!
By: Christina Floyd
Athletic Department Intern