Montalbano hyping history

SV wrestler organizes Wall of Fame to honor Raider mat greats

June 12, 2019 Cranberry Local Sports


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Standing in front of Seneca Valley's Wrestling Wall of Fame are, from left, former Raider wrestlers Louis Newell and Nick Montalbano and current star Alejandro Herrera-Rondon. The Wall of Fame was Montalbano's senior project.

JACKSON TWP — Some high school students dread the work involved with completing their senior project.

Nick Montalbano couldn't wait to dive into his.

The recent Seneca Valley graduate, a four-year member of the school's varsity wrestling team, picked a subject matter that he was passionate about — a wall of fame honoring the program's top athletes.

Montalbano needed to submit his idea for a senior project last October.

“I thought about it last summer, but didn't come up with anything definite,” he said.

Then he recalled something he saw nearly a decade ago.

“When I was nine years old, I was at a club wrestling practice at North Allegheny High School,” said Montalbano, who will wrestle collegiately at American University in Washington, D.C. “They had pictures on the wall of the best wrestlers to come through the program. I thought that was really cool and nothing like that had ever been done at Seneca Valley.”

Montalbano had his idea and had no problem immersing himself in SV's wrestling history, which dates to the mid-1960s.

He decided those honored would be wrestlers who either placed at states or earned All-American status in college.

The result was 14 wrestlers, ranging from 1970 graduate Tim Kearns to Rich Barron, the first state wrestling champion in school history, to current wrestlers Alejandro Herrera-Rondon and Dylan Chappell.

Montalbano's plan was to have a plaque made for each wrestler with their photo and accomplishments.

“Getting the photos was the most difficult part,” he said. “I ended up getting pictures from 11 of the wrestlers and got the other three from past yearbooks.”

The plaques arrived in early May and two weeks later, Montalbano held a reception at the Seneca Valley Fieldhouse to unveil the final product. The plaques were hung on the wall outside SV's wrestling room.

“(The reception) was for anyone who wanted to come and see how it all turned out,” he said. “I had raised almost $1,000 to have the plaques made. I had some money left over and bought some food and drinks for the reception. There were former and current wrestlers, family members ... it was a good turnout. One of the people there said, 'It's about time somebody did this.'

“I looked up at the plaques and was incredibly proud. It was amazing.”

To emphasize that additions will be made to the Wall of Fame, Montalbano had a 15th plaque made that includes Seneca Valley's logo and the words “Who's Next?”

The $200 that remained from his funds were given to SV's wrestling boosters.

Not surprisingly, Montalbano earned an “A” for the thought and effort put into his project, but he knows his time means more than simply a grade.

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Derek Pyda

Derek Pyda

- Graduated from Connellsville High School in 1996
- Graduated from Clarion University in 2000 with a Bachelors in Communications
- Have also written for Clarion News (Clarion, PA) and the Herald-Standard (Uniontown, PA)
- Started at the Butler Eagle on April 2, 2002
- Interests include sports, history and geography