Arthur J. Weiss, Sr., founder of Clearfield Wrestling in 1934-35, celebrates his 100th birthday today. He is perhaps best known as the “Dean of Pennsylvania Schoolboy Wrestling.”
Born near Nazareth, PA on Jan. 12, 1909, Weiss took an interest in sports, because his brothers were all athletes. In high school, he competed in football, basketball and baseball. He captained all three Nazareth High School athletic teams before his graduation in 1927.
After high school, Weiss studied at Perkiomen Prep School in Pennsburg, where he was a member of the basketball team. He discovered practice had been canceled one afternoon and wandered over to the school’s wrestling room. He grew interested in the sport but had little time to pursue it, as he went on to Albright College in Reading.
In 1932, Weiss earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and accepted his first teaching position at the Clearfield Area High School. He taught both science and mathematics throughout his 42-year tenure. And, almost by happenstance, he headed the wrestling team for 25 of those years.
Although Weiss was never a wrestler, Fred Sweeley, then the high school athletic director, asked him to coach and said four dual meets had been scheduled for him. Without a team in place, Weiss approached students, asked for their weight and persuaded some to attend practice. He began the Clearfield Wrestling program in December 1934.
With Clearfield Wrestling still in its infancy, Weiss’ team rose to domination by 1937, starting an eight-year win streak with 64 consecutive dual meet victories. DuBois scored a win to end the streak in 1945. Following the loss, Clearfield went undefeated for another 51 wins, before Philipsburg upended the Bison in 1951. The Weiss-coached teams put together 20 consecutive dual meet wins from 1952 through 1953. During his teams’ dominance, Weiss recorded 138 wins, 5 losses and two ties from 1937 through 1953. As head coach, he led the Bison to 14 undefeated seasons and a 184-37-3 overall record.
Weiss’ teams not only saw dual meet success, but also dominated the then combined District 6-9 wrestling tournament, winning 11 straight titles until Bellefonte ended the sweep in 1950. The Bison also collected three more crowns, before Districts 6 and 9 were split into two tournaments. In 1954, District 9 held its own tournament with Clearfield coming out on top. Weiss went on to win the district team title each year until his retirement in 1959. In all, he earned 20 district titles in 22 tries.
Weiss had 24 wrestlers combine for 31 state titles, establishing the current state mark for the coach with the most state champions. He has held the record for more than 50 years. Retired North Allegheny Coach Gus DeAugustino sits in the second spot with 21 state champions and Steve Powell, who currently coaches at Easton, is in third with 19 state champions.
Weiss has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame (1970); the Clearfield County Hall of Fame (1987); the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (1993); the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (1995); and the District 9 Wrestling Hall of Fame (1999). He has been inducted into 14 different Hall of Fames. He has also been given the Albright College Lifelong Service Award and is in the Perkiomen School Hall of Athletic Honor.
Weiss married Irene Mae Reimer, of Nazareth, in 1936, and their son, Arthur J. Weiss Jr. wrestled under his father for three years. He retired as head coach after his son’s graduation in 1959.