ShareThis Page

Kiski Area wrestlers eye rematches in WPIAL tournament

| Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, 10:57 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Kiski Area's Joey Blumer recordings a fall at 5:46 against Central Dauphin's Hunter Bentz in the 145-lb bout during the first round of PIAA Team Wrestling at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. on Thursday Feb. 09, 2017. Kiski won 52-11.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Kiski Area head coach Chris Heater congratulates Kiski Area's Cam Conner after Conner won the 138-lb bout during the WPIAL Class AAA team wrestling championship at Penn Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. on Saturday Feb. 04, 2017. Cam Connor beat Tim Hritsko 3-1 in overtime. Kiski Area won 41-21 against Canon-McMillan.

Kiski Area senior 145-pounder Joey Blumer lost sleep on a regular basis during two-plus seasons of his varsity wrestling career as he let musings about upcoming matches consume his thoughts.

As he readies for his final WPIAL Class AAA individual tournament, the senior hopes the possibility of rematches with two familiar rivals doesn't lead him down a path toward old, bad habits.

Count Blumer as one of several Cavaliers who enter the WPIAL championships, which begin at 11 a.m. Friday at Canon-McMillan High School and continue on Saturday, with potentially more knowledge than they need about front runners in their respective weight classes. A total of 12 wrestlers from Kiski Area qualified.

“This year, I've done a lot better (with controlling thoughts) than in the past couple years,” said Blumer, whose six losses this season include two setbacks to No. 1 seed Jarod Verkleeren of Hempfield and one to No. 2 seed Jake Hinkson of North Allegheny. “I don't lose sleep anymore. But I think about them. I should probably think about them a little less, but they're always in my mind.”

Junior 126-pounder Noah Levett, a No. 3 seed, is no stranger to Franklin Regional senior Spencer Lee, a three-time WPIAL and PIAA champion without a loss in his high school career — they met twice in the individual postseason a year ago and twice earlier this season, including in last Saturday's Section 1-AAA finals.

And sophomore 138-pounder Cam Connor, a No. 4 seed, hopes to earn a fourth shot at No. 1 seed and Hempfield junior Luke Kemerer, who won when they met the three previous times this season, including Saturday in the Section 1-AAA finals.

“It's fun to see where you're at when you're wrestling those good guys,” Connor said. “Just shows how you're improving, if you need to practice harder.”

“Fun” is a relative concept, of course. If results remain lopsided and familiarity continues to grow between two wrestlers, perspectives mature. Just ask Levett, who recognizes both the good and bad of his seemingly inevitable run-ins with Lee.

“Going into every tournament, I know if I have to wrestle Spencer, it'll probably be in the finals,” Levett said. “So if I end up wrestling him, that means I made the finals. That's kind of a motivation there in itself.”

Blumer, Levett and Connor's seedings suggested the WPIAL committee recognized the caliber of competition in Section 1-AAA at their respective weights and put them ahead of champions from other sections.

That's an approach coach Chris Heater finds agreeable — section championships should not guarantee top-four seeds, he said. But Heater also watched the WPIAL's more subjective style backfire for two of his team's four section title winners.

While sophomore 106-pounder Darren Miller grabbed the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL and junior 285-pounder Isaac Reid landed a No. 2 slot, brothers Danny and Tommy Starr both ended up outside the top four of their weight classes after winning gold on Saturday.

Danny Starr, a junior 195-pounder with a 32-8 record, received the No. 5 seed in the WPIAL.

Even more surprising, Tom Starr, a senior 220-pounder with a 37-5 record, garnered a No. 7 seed after pinning his way to a title in Section 1-AAA.

“Sometimes it's hard to understand the philosophy a little bit or why kids are where they're at,” Heater said.

But among the Cavaliers, the coach continued, perhaps none are wired better for such a situation than the Starrs, who share a take-on-all-comers attitude.

Blumer said he sometimes envies teammates who can resist the urge to research opponents. He welcomes reminders from Heater, another avid studier, to stop analyzing and just start attacking.

“Sometimes you can put a little too much stock into a name or credentials instead of just brawling for five or six minutes,” Heater said.

“I think the guys that can line up and just wrestle the man and not the name, they're better off.”

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.