Notebook: Campbell the one, and only, wrestler at California

  • By Joe Tuscano January 13, 2014

If you want to keep track of California High School’s wrestling team, then simply follow the progression of James Campbell.

He is the California team, the only member, and he took sixth place at 132 pounds in the Tri-County Athletic Directors Association Wrestling Tournament at Ringgold over the weekend.

Campbell split his six bouts in the tournament, winning his first-round match, 6-0, over Austin Riffle of Burgettstown, then falling to Matt Vickless of Bentworth, 3-0, in the quarterfinals.

He won his next two bouts in the consolation matches but was pinned twice, the final one by Kurt Adkins of Washington for the fifth-place medal.

“My goal,” said Campbell, “was to do better than last year (in this tournament).”

And Campbell did, getting a medal this year compared to a 1-2 result last season.

Campbell is coached by his father, Ray, a longtime coach in the Charleroi youth program. James’ brother, Ray, wrestled for Charleroi. Campbell is not permitted to work out with other teams until the postseason, so he works with some of the youth coaches.

“One of them, Dave Benning, is about 150 pounds,” Campbell said. “We work out a lot.”

Campbell also was the only member of California’s team last season, compiling an 11-12 record, a fifth-place finish in the section tournament, and a 1-2 effort in the WPIAL Class AA Championships.

“I like being the only kid from the school on the wrestling team,” said Campbell. “I think it’s pretty cool. Most of the kids at school don’t know how I do. They always ask.”

California does not compete in a section, but does wrestle in tournaments, not unusual for a program struggling to fill a lineup.

It is unusual that these programs have only one wrestler, but that doesn’t matter to Campbell.

“No, it’s not frustrating,” he said. “I’ve been around the midgets a lot, and I liked it. My little brother Joey comes and watches me when he can, and my friends come to Charleroi for (the section tournament).”

Match for a Marine

Last week’s Match For A Marine was postponed because of not one, but two, water main breaks at Peters Township High School.

The rescheduled event is tonight in McMurray.

All proceeds from the event, including admissions and concession sales, will be donated to a charitable organization that has been set up by the local VFW to benefit Marine Sgt. Doug Vitale. Vitale was a wrestler at Kiski and his wife is a graduate of Peters Township. Vitale was seriously injured while on patrol in Afghanistan, losing both legs and suffering multiple strokes. He is now in Peters Township going through rehabilitation.

Tunnel to Towers Foundation and The Gary Sinese Foundation are building a home for the couple that will accommodate all of Vitale’s needs.


South Fayette has one top seed – Mike Carr at 132 – in the Allegheny County Wrestling Tournament, which gets under way Friday at Fox Chapel. … Trinity’s Mike Kolosky missed the Tri-CADA tournament with a finger injury but is expected to return for Wednesday’s match against Canon-McMillan. … Peters Township finished second in the American High School Division at the Virginia Duals over the weekend. Chartiers-Houston went 0-3. Tyler Buckiso, Italo Merante and Mitch Fitzgerald each went 3-1 for PT, which fell 44-18 to Liberty in the finals.

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Jeannette News-Dispatch and North Hills Record. He graduated from Duquesne University in 1980.


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