Wash High WPIAL Wrestling Threepeat 1981-1983
A drop from Class 3A to Class 2A gave the Washington Little Prexies wrestling team a chance to legitimately challenge for a championship.
The early 1980s were a time of change for Washington wrestling. Long-time legendary Coach Stan Mousetis moved on from the school to take over at Plum High School.
Bill Solominsky, Mousetis’ assistant, succeeded his boss. Matt Midea was brought in as the assistant.
While the Prexies’ could still compete with Class 3A teams – evidenced by the fact they defeated Canon-McMillan and Trinity during the 1980-81 season – the move sustained the program and brought great excitement to the school.
When Orlando Williams, a soon-to-be NCAA Division I football player at Virginia Tech, clinched Washington’s first WPIAL Class 2A championship with a fall at heavyweight for a 27-24 come-from-behind victory over Waynesburg, a new era of Little Prexies wrestling began.
“That was a great feeling,” Williams said. “When you’re not picked to do something and then you do it, you feel special.”
Jim Frazier was a member of the championship teams in 1981 and 1982.
“I think the amazing thing was we didn’t have a lot of wrestlers and had to fill 12 weight classes,” he said. “It required moving and shuffling people around a lot to get the desired matchups to give us the best chance to win.
“For so many different guys to step in and step up in each dual meet amazed me. We had a good team environment. We had standouts and we had those guys who may not have stood out individually but provided the team a lift throughout those two seasons. We were there for each other all the way through.”
Washington defeated Waynesburg again, 28-21, in 1982 and won its third straight title in 1983 by knocking off upstart Jefferson-Morgan, 33-16.
Waynesburg had won the 1979 and 1980 WPIAL Class 2A team championships.
The Little Prexies, who have nine WPIAL championships, went on to win titles in 1986, 1996, 1998 and 1999.
Washington had several WPIAL individual champions during their three-year run. Jim Frazier won titles in 1981 and 1982 at 145 and 155 pounds. Tom Wilt won in 1981 at 126. The late Lonnie Barnes was a two-time champion those two seasons at 132 and 138 pounds. He also finished as a two-time PIAA runner-up. Jeff Frazier won a WPIAL crown in 1983 at 132 pounds.
Wilt won a state championship in 1981 as well.
Others who were on at least one of the championship teams who won WPIAL individual championships included Rodney Fuqua at 105 pounds in 1984 and Dan Midea and Rick Miller at 155 and 185 pounds, respectively, in 1985.
Randy Agnew and Williams were WPIAL runnersup and state qualifiers.
“We didn’t have a lot of people in the room,” said Jeff Frazier, who along with John Midea, Agnew and Charles Haywood were starting members of all three championship teams.
“The matches against Waynesburg during the regular season and the two championship matches were the best. They were the kings of Double-A. We knew to win the title we had to beat them.
“They had some great wrestlers and some real studs. It took our best effort each time. We just scrapped and clawed. We had our really good ones as well. Those were good times.”
The Fraziers pointed out competitors such as Chuck Reihner, Randy Sim and Tom Doyle who also contributed to the championship run as did Randy Chambers, Mike D’Alessandro and Bill Garrison.
“We had guys who may not have been standout individuals who played valuable roles and came up with needed and clutch victories along the way,” Jim Frazier said.
In addition to transitioning to Class 2A, Washington also was dealing with a change in coaching philosophy. The late Mousetis is a legend and he ruled in tough and strict manner with no one treated differently. There were casualties along the way for not following his rules.
Solominsky and Midea (both deceased), who went on to win WPIAL championships at the school in his own right, lightened the atmosphere and relaxed the rules.
“I didn’t learn as much about wrestling from a technical aspect with the change,” Jim Frazier said. “But we were together.”
“We all learned more about wrestling and the right way to do things from Stanley. He was a master,” Jeff Frazier added. “But some of the other guys who found it tough to adhere to the letter of his law, got a chance to stick with the new coaches.”
Dave Cook, a Hall of Fame Coach at Ringgold, Chartiers-Houston and Canon-McMillan, got his start under Mousetis as Washington’s junior high coach, added that the timing of it all was probably for everyone’s best.
“There was a right way, a wrong way and Stan Mousetis’ way,” Cook said. “He molded me and he taught me. Stanley was a great coach and a great man. I learned more wrestling from Stanley than anybody. His practices were long and he never shied away from letting you know about his philosophical thoughts.
“Wash High dropped before they were decimated back then. Numbers dictated it. They could still wrestle with anybody. They had some horses. Sol and Matt were good coaches. The environment was different. Those kids related to them and performed for them. The atmosphere was more relaxed.”
John Midea said the 1981 season ignited Wash High wrestling.
“It started to really pick up,” Midea added. “It was awesome. I was hardly an impact wrestler on that team. We stayed together. It was just fun. We worked our butts off in the room. When we beat Waynesburg in the regular dual, we started to gain steam.”
The Little Prexies were the first team to win three straight team tournament titles. North Allegheny then did it from 1986-88. Others have done so since.
Jeff Frazier said the feat may have been underappreciated.
“It happened at the same time Chartiers-Houston was such a great team with tremendous wrestlers up and down its lineup,” he said. “They were state champions. That team deserves all the recognition it gets. We’re proud of what we did. It was special as well.”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article. See official rules here.