On the party board: One of only two three-time NCAA All-Americans in Penn Wrestling history and a member of the EIWA Hall of Fame, he was a four-time NCAA qualifier and won three titles EIWA at heavyweight. His 118 victories remain the third all-time. A member of Penn’s 2002 Ivy League championship team, he earned three first-team All-Ivy selections during his career. He was a captain for two years, a three-time NWCA All-Academic pick and a three-time Academic All-Ivy pick as well as a CoSIDA Academic All-District pick. As a senior, he was the 2004-05 recipient of the University’s Class of 1915 award.
The Class XII Induction Ceremony into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame will be held Saturday, May 7 at The Inn at Penn.
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By Josh Verlin
A childhood move changed the course of Matthew Feast’s life.
When he was three, his father’s business moved from Long Island to Cressona, Pennsylvania, moving the Holidays from the outskirts of New York to the outskirts of Pottsville. Growing up as an athlete in a town of 3,000 people meant that Feast played all the typical sports: football, baseball, basketball, etc.
But rural Pennsylvania towns have a special sport they’re known for, far beyond Keystone State.
“There are only good wrestling programs in all of Pennsylvania,” Feast said. “Even in the smaller towns, it was just accessible at a young age. My mom was like, ‘Do you want to wrestle, or do you want to play basketball?’ She didn’t really push me, and I was like, ‘I want to wrestle.'”
That childhood decision set Feast on a path that saw him rise to the pinnacle of high school wrestling and then go on to have a standout career on the mats at Penn.
A three-time All-America, three-time EIWA champion, three-time All-Ivy first team and four-time NCAA qualifier, Feast is an inductee into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame Class XII.
It’s quite a far cry from the 12-year-old who was ‘pretty bad’ at the sport at the time, as Feast admits, but a red flag as he entered his teens was just the spark what he needed. Seeing some of his friends start drinking and other irresponsible behavior for boys that age, Feast decided one night at a house party that he wasn’t going to follow them.
“I just walked up the stairs, I was thinking and pacing, I just looked in the mirror and said, ‘I’m going to be a state champion wrestler,'” Feast recalled. “Understand, I was no good at the time I made this pact. I knew I had a lot of work to do, but if you say something and repeat it, you build trust over time. J ‘will try to look in the mirror every day, and after a year, your confidence level is 10x, maybe 100x.”
Feast spent his time working at the Talon Wrestling Club in Bethlehem, where guys like Olympic gold medalist and Wrestling Hall of Famer Bobby Weaver, Hall of Famer twins Rocky and Ricky Bonomo, and many other notable wrestlers honed their craft.
By the time he arrived at Blue Mountain High School, Feast had already reached his 6-foot-2 frame, though he hadn’t quite reached the 220 pounds he struggled with during his time at Penn. The future heavyweight didn’t qualify for the varsity team as a rookie, but state rules allowed him to wrestle at the college level, where he won the district title.
As a sophomore, he found himself in a struggle to make the varsity team, another key moment in his wrestling journey. Feast won and got his first college experience; a defeat, he said, “would have been a blow”. After this second season, a sure-fire learning experience, Feast began wrestling in some Greco-Roman tournaments which helped him diversify his abilities and better prepare for his final two years of high school.
Wrestling at 189 pounds as a junior, Feast qualified for the state wrestling tournament for the first time, winning the regional tournament and losing by one point in the state semifinals, coming in fourth place. of State. It was enough to get the attention of Penn’s wrestling coach Roger Queen— himself a Class VI inductee into the Penn Athletics Hall of Fame — and there was immediate mutual interest.
“It was great from the start,” Feast said. “He actually drove over to my house; I can’t remember what we ate, but we had a great time together. (My family) have been to Penn several times, walking on campus. He was the first real Division I coach who reached out to me, but soon after, the letters started pouring in.
“I’ve always had a bias toward Penn,” Feast added. “It was an hour from my house, Brandon Slay (W’98) had just won Olympic gold, there were other stallions in the team as well.”
This set the stage for a massive senior year at Blue Mountain. Feast went undefeated throughout the regular season and then made it through the state tournament to the finals. He then left no doubt when he got there what the outcome would be.
“I shot him down in three seconds,” Feast recalled. “I just had so much energy, I ended up winning that game 10-5, it was very emotional for me, my parents were there, it was a big deal.
“It didn’t end there. I prepared a little too much; my original goal was just to win states, but I ended up winning the senior nationals, which are basically high school nationals, and then I won Greco-Roman and freestyle tournaments in Fargo.”
Although Feast never reached that same high at the college level, his four years at Penn were some of the best the school had ever seen on the mats. His 118 wins are still third in the school record books; he is fourth, eighth and ninth in falls in a season.
Injuries in his senior year made it difficult for Feast to compete at the highest level possible, but he still placed in the national tournament. Unlike some of his teammates and friends, who trained for the Olympics or got into mixed martial arts, when his college career ended, Feast knew his wrestling days were over.
“I think wrestling in college was a love-hate relationship – I would say more love, but you have your moments,” he said. “There are times that I kind of erased from my memory because it’s too painful, it’s hard to think about it, you go the wrong way, grab someone’s wrist in the wrong meaning and you lose a match for something so small.
“All in all, it builds character and confidence; it has given me skills beyond the sport I play today. It has strengthened my determination to work hard at the things I am committed to, whether it’s family or work. That’s what I took away from that.”
After graduating, Feast went straight into a career in finance, first working for Moody’s for a few years before getting a job at Shinsei Bank, a Chinese bank, working in Japan for four years. It was there that he met his wife Mei Mei, who is Chinese and was also working in Japan; they have two children together, Holly (10) and Max (7).
The Feast family returned to the United States in 2011, and he spent nearly a decade with a French bank, Natixis, working in New York. During the COVID pandemic, he decided to do something pivotal in his career, combining his knowledge of finance and real estate and entering the crypto world with ValueChainVentures (VCV) Digital Group, of which he is a co-founder. one of the co-founders and president.
Although it has been over 15 years since Feast last wrestled, his athletic prowess still resonates in his hometown. Pennsylvania still produces some of the best wrestlers in the world, and Feast is one of those legends that coaches and avid fans of the sport still point to as someone for younger generations to emulate.
“My high school has asked me to give speeches at their annual banquet several times,” he said. “It’s something I’m going to do, I haven’t done it yet.
“An experience was interesting. There’s a Buca Di Beppo in the Lehigh Valley, the chain of Italian restaurants. I once went there with my wife and my mother (and others), and they told me said ‘oh, you’re Matt Feast, and it’s on the house.
“We don’t have fans like basketball stars, but maybe we get a free lunch every few years.”
David Pottruck C’70 WG’72
Jesse Carlin C’08 GR’14
Stan Bergman, men’s heavyweight team coach
Gail Silberthau Silverman W’84
Michael Jordan C’00
Ali DeLuca Cloherty C’10