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Pinning Down 100; Arthur J. Weiss ’32

Photo courtesy of The Gant Daily

Arthur J. Weiss ’32 was the very first student custodian at “the new science building.” In fact, he was the very first student hired to work in the Merner-Pfeiffer Hall of Science in 1929, just one year after the merger of Schuylkill and Albright Colleges.

On Jan. 12, 2009, this “father of Pennsylvania high school wrestling,” known for one of the most impressive coaching records in history, celebrated his 100th birthday.

Weiss’ numbers are staggering, with 138 wins, 5 losses and 2 ties from 1937 through 1953. His teams won 20 of 22 district championships throughout his career. Twenty-four of his wrestlers combined for 31 state titles, giving him the title of most victorious coach in Pennsylvania wrestling, a record he has held for more than 50 years.

Born in Nazareth, Pa., Weiss followed in his brother George’s footsteps in attending Albright College in Myerstown. The elder Weiss graduated in 1922 and went on to become a doctor in the northern end of Berks County. Arthur Weiss chose to study education at Albright, where he was a member of the cheerleading squad, president of the junior class, and received the Gold A award his senior year.

After graduation Weiss went to a job fair in Harrisburg, Pa., where he was hired by Clearfield High School to teach both science and math, a position he would hold for the next 42 years. He also served as the head basketball coach, and in 1934 the athletic director approached him about starting a wrestling program at Clearfield. He was told that four dual meets had already been scheduled, but there was no team in place. “I just walked the halls eyeing up the kids to see if they were the weight I needed,” says Weiss with a chuckle. “I got my first state champion that way; just walked up and told the kid he was now on the wrestling team.”

While Weiss had never wrestled before, he had developed an interest in the sport while attending Perkiomen Prep School immediately after high school. “Our basketball practice was cancelled one afternoon and I wandered over to the wrestling room; that’s when I got my first taste of wrestling.”

Pinning Down 100; Arthur J. Weiss ’32 Wrestling began at Clearfield High School in 1934, and it was soon after that they began breaking records. Weiss never lost a meet from 1937 to 1945, with 64 consecutive victories. Following a loss to nearby DuBois High School, Weiss won another 51 consecutive meets through 1951.

Weiss has been named to 14 different Hall of Fames, including the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1978, the Clearfield County Hall of Fame in 1987, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 1993, and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995. Weiss, who lives at home with part-time assistance, is still active in wrestling in Clearfield. He recently served as an honorary coach at the District 9 All-Star Meet.

– David S. Johnson

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