Derry wrestler Shaffer is remaining focused
Derry's Travis Shaffer knows winning a second WPIAL Class AAA wrestling title this weekend won't be easy.
That's because being ranked No. 1 at 135 pounds has put a big bull's-eye on his chest. He knows he's going to get everyone's best effort.
That occurred last Saturday, when Shaffer defeated Latrobe senior Ryan Walters, 1-0, in the Section 1-AAA final.
"My goal is to win another WPIAL title and win a PIAA title. I can do that if I keep my mind right and I keep focused on my goals," Shaffer said before Wednesday's practice, as he prepared for the start of the PIAA Southwest Regional/WPIAL Class AAA championship at 5 p.m. today at Canon-McMillan High School.
The three-day tournament concludes Saturday night. The top three wrestlers in each weight class will earn a berth in the PIAA Class AAA championships March 11 at Giant Center in Hershey.
Shaffer is one of seven returning champions.
Franklin Regional junior Nico Megaludis (119 pounds) and West Allegheny senior Troy Reaghard (160) are seeking their third WPIAL titles, while Derry sophomore Jimmy Gulibon (112), Butler junior Cole Baxter (171), Hopewell senior Matt Hundenski (152) and Connellsville senior Nathan Gaffney (215) are after their second titles.
Gulibon, Megaludis and Gaffney are returning state champions.
West Mifflin senior Sam Sherlock would have been an eighth returning champion, but a knee injury has forced him to miss most of the season.
"There are a lot of good wrestlers in my weight class," said Shaffer, who placed fifth in the state at 135 pounds last year. "I've beaten a few of them already, which should help my confidence. I can't afford to look past anyone I wrestle."
Canon-McMillan junior Nick Catalano (26-2), a two-time PIAA qualifier, is seeded No. 2 at 135 and Central Catholic junior Eric Nutter (32-7) is seeded third. Walters (32-6) is seeded fifth.
"I've already defeated Nutter at the Powerade tournament and defeated the wrestler who beat Catalano there," Shaffer said. "I'll have to wrestle my best to make it to Hershey."
Hempfield junior Paul Bewak (31-5), who won his third section title last week, is one of three Westmoreland County wrestlers seeded in the top four at 112 pounds. Gulibon (28-1) is No. 1, Bewak is No. 3 and Penn-Trafford senior Ryan Bohince (28-7) is No. 4.
Some of the other tough weight classes this weekend are at 119 pounds, 125 and 171.
Megaludis has PIAA qualifiers Derrick Nelson (27-3) of Waynesburg and Alex Dunaway (24-7) of McGuffey in his weight class.
Bethel Park sophomore Dylan Mogan (18-0) is seeded No. 1 at 125. Norwin junior John Pezze (28-1) is second, and Franklin Regional junior Trevor Medlang (25-2) is third.
Two undefeated wrestlers — Baxter (33-0) and Chartiers Valley senior Ty Wilps (33-0) — are, respectively, seeded one and two at 171. That weight class also includes Central Catholic sophomore Perry Hills (33-6), seeded third, and Kiski Area freshman Matt McCutcheon (35-4), who is seeded fourth.