Schopp returning to area as Purdue assistant
When Penn State wrestles Purdue at home on Friday night, area wrestling fans will see a familiar face on the Boilermakers’ bench in Tyrone native A.J. Schopp.
The 2010 state champion, two-state runner-up and four-time state placewinner is in his first year as an assistant coach at Purdue under head coach Tony Ersland.
Schopp began his coaching career as an assistant at South Dakota State, where he spent 2015-16 and 2016-17. Last year, he coached 133-pounder Seth Gross to an NCAA Tournament runner-up finish and 149-punder Alex Kocher to a 7th-place finish.
Schopp, a two-time Mirror Wrestler of the Year who went 160-11 with 94 pins at Tyrone, was a premier 133-pounder when he wrestled at Edinboro University. He was a three-time All-American and a three-time Eastern Wrestling League champion.
Schopp placed fourth in the NCAAs in 2013 and 2014, and after getting upset in the first round of the 2015 NCAAs, he rolled back through the consolations to finish third.
He went 133-17, an .887 winning percentage, and set the career pin record at Edinboro with 67.
I covered Schopp throughout his high school career, and it’s not surprising that he’s a wrestling coach. He was one of the most talented wrestlers I’ve ever seen, especially from the top position, where he was deadly.
The coaches who have hired him have drawn upon his wrestling knowledge, and he’s still young enough to be able to roll around and work with the wrestlers.
The Boilermakers are now 5-3, with narrow losses to No. 23 Central Michigan, 24-10, No. 8 Michigan, 25-14, and No. 19 Nebraska, 20-15.
Ridge is really good
I knew Chestnut Ridge was pretty good, but seeing the Lions for the first time last Friday against Northern Bedford was a real eye-opener.
The Lions rolled to a 75-0 victory over NBC, and they followed that up with a 63-7 rout of Bedford the next night. Led by returning state champion Justin McCoy and two-time state placer Jared McGill, Ridge held a massive 95-14 advantage in bout points.
The Lions gave up points grudgingly. There were five bouts where they didn’t give up a point, and there were five other bouts where they gave up three points or less.
“The boys take a lot of pride in wanting to be successful and not giving the kid hope,” Ridge coach Greg Lazor, “or giving the kid the idea that they can score on them. When one of the guys get taken down or get points against them, it bugs them a little bit.”
It’s too bad that Kaden Cassidy, who season ended with surgery on Friday to repair ligament damage in his thumb, won’t be in the lineup. Ridge, though, will be still be a formidable foe the rest of the season.
The Lions, ranked fourth by PA Power Wrestling, have a big week this week as they host 14-1 North Star on Thursday and participate in the Ultimate Duals on Saturday at Brookville.
Among the teams at the Ultimate Duals will be No. 1 Reynolds, No. 3 Brookville and No. 8 Burrell. The Lions went 2-2 at the Duals last year, losing to Reynolds and Brookville.
Todd Irwin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be followed on Twitter at @ToddIrwin1.