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Kiski Area's Kuhn is up to weighty wrestling challenge

Kiski Area sophomore Shane Kuhn carries plenty of muscle on his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame. Standing next to most of his wrestling opponents, however, he looks to be out of his class.

Actually, he is.

Kuhn could compete in the 220-pound weight class but voluntarily moved to the 285 division for the Class AAA postseason. His foes usually outweigh him by 40 to 50 pounds, and some even have to lose weight to make the cutoff.

Kuhn's decision might lead one to think he has a strange desire to experience what it's like to be leveled by a steamroller. In reality, he's one of the movers and shakers among the big boys.

The "undersized" Kuhn (31-3) enters the WPIAL Class AAA championships as the No. 2 seed. The annual tournament begins Thursday with opening-round matches starting at 5:30 p.m. at Norwin High School.

"Shane is very athletic," Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said. "When a heavyweight gets some momentum going, you can throw them, and they usually can be turned to their back. That really appeals to Shane. He loves to throw somebody bigger or stronger."

Despite the weight difference Kuhn regularly faces, the 285 class seems to be the perfect fit for him. His three losses happened at 220, and each was against a WPIAL Class AAA tournament qualifier. He said he recorded most or all of his wins against 285-pounders.

"There are disadvantages and advantages (to moving to the 285 class)," Kuhn said. "I try to wrestle smart and use my speed and agility, which most of them don't have, with me being the lightest in the whole bracket."

He's also the youngest. All of the other wrestlers in the 20-man bracket are seniors or juniors.

Kuhn is seeded behind Canon-McMillan senior Cody Klempay (34-1), a North Carolina recruit and the defending WPIAL 285-pound champion.

As a freshman, Kuhn took fourth place at the WPIAL championships at heavyweight, one place short of qualifying for the state tournament. And he weighed about 200 pounds at the time.

"Heavyweight is a different style of wrestling, and I've adapted to it," Kuhn said.

Kuhn also is a standout for Kiski Area's football team. This past fall, he was named to the All-Quad East Conference second team at tight end and defensive lineman. In a couple years, he could find himself choosing between Division I scholarships in wrestling and football.

The WPIAL's top three finishers in each weight class advance to the PIAA Class AAA championships March 8-10 at Giant Center in Hershey.

Three other local wrestlers earned top-three seeds for the WPIAL tournament.

Kiski Area junior 182-pounder Matt McCutcheon (33-1) and Central Catholic senior 195-pounder Perry Hills (27-0), a Plum resident, are No. 1 in their weight classes. Last season, before the weight class changes, Hills edged McCutcheon, 3-1, for the WPIAL 189-pound title.

Kiski Area junior 138-pounder Cole Landowski (25-2) is seeded second behind Canon-McMillan sophomore Solomon Chishko (36-1).

WPIAL Class AAA wrestling championships

Thursday-Saturday at Norwin High School

Local qualifiers (with weight, grade, record):

> > Fox Chapel: Sam Molina (145, Sr., 29-6), Tyler Heasley (152, Fr., 22-13), Corey Mahon (160, So., 16-12) and Anthony Brooks (182, Sr., 29-4).

> > Kiski Area: Ryan Hardaway (113, So., 27-12), Vaughn Curcio (120, Fr., 15-14), Jake Ardellitz (126, So., 25-13), Cole Landowski (138, Jr., 25-2), Jim Bistline (145, Sr., 28-13), Shawn McGowan (152, Jr., 21-7), Kyle Skelly (160, Jr., 27-3), Zach Musco (170, Sr., 30-7), Matt McCutcheon (182, Jr., 33-1) and Shane Kuhn (285, So., 31-3).

> > Knoch: Joel Hixon (120, Sr., 18-15) and Ian Adkins (285, Sr., 20-13).

> > Plum: Eric Green (132, So., 21-12), John Marotto (138, Sr., 29-6), and Jake DiGuilio (220, Jr., 21-14).

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