KO's Zanetta trying to forget, make history
HERSHEY - Keystone Oaks junior Nick Zanetta isn't worried about his history with his next opponent.
But he would like to make his own history today at the 75th annual PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center by winning a gold medal.
So would his apparent rival, Derry senior Jimmy Gulibon.
Zanetta (41-3) will be an underdog in the 126-pound final as he faces three-time PIAA champion Gulibon, who is trying to become the 10th wrestler in PIAA history to win four titles.
It will be the third consecutive weekend that Zanetta and Gulibon have met in the finals of a tournament. Gulibon (24-1) has won the previous two meetings easily.
"Hopefully, the third time is a charm," Zanetta said after his 4-3 victory against Smethport junior Karl Lightner in Friday's semifinals. "It's the same game plan. I might fix little things, go over the tape. But I don't expect to do much else."
Gulibon won 11-3 at the WPIAL tournament two weeks ago and 11-4 at the Southwest regional last week.
Zanetta said he hopes to tie up Gulibon's hands more this time.
"I knew if I was going to win, it'd be against Jimmy (in the finals)," Zanetta said. "I'm just going to go out there and wrestle my match. It's what you've got to do against Jimmy. He's a good wrestler.
"I've got nothing to lose. He's going to go down in history, win or lose. I just want to make him a three-time champion instead of a four-time."
Zanetta defeated Lake-Lehman sophomore Austin Harry, 6-4, in the quarterfinals Friday morning.
Gulibon said he welcomes the rematch against Zanetta. Gulibon defeated Hanover sophomore Ian Brown, 8-1, in the quarterfinals and then ripped Ridgway senior Corey Bush, 14-4, in the semifinals.
"I just want to go out, wrestle my style and have some fun," Gulibon said. "I felt pretty good with my performance.
"I'm a tough person to please and so is my dad (Jim), but he even said I wrestled well. I'm not sure I was that good."
Gulibon dominated his semifinal match, taking Bush down five times.
"Once I got the lead, I backed off," Gulibon said. "That's not a good thing to do, but I just wanted to make sure I advanced. Nick's a good wrestler, but as long as I stay away from the funky stuff, I'll be OK."
The WPIAL had 10 wrestlers in the semifinals, and the only others to advance to the finals were Bentworth senior Francis Mizia (160), Burrell junior Dakota DesLauriers (182) and Chartiers-Houston senior Nate Grandelis (285).
Mizia (43-4) used a takedown with 22 seconds left to edge Central Columbia senior Kurt Meska, 3-1; DesLauriers (45-0) rolled over Greenville senior Tyler Landfried, 12-3; and Grandelis scored three points in the second period and defeated Reynolds senior Blake Heim, 3-1.
Falling in the semifinals were Kittanning sophomore Jason Nolf (113), South Fayette junior Mike Fetchet (160), Jefferson-Morgan junior Dustin Conti (170), Southmoreland senior Jordan Kitta (195) and Fort Cherry senior Corey Garry (285).
Nolf suffered his first career loss, falling to Harrisburg Trinity's Ryan Diehl, 6-4. Nolf began his career 85-0.
Fetchet was edged by Forest Hills junior Cody Law, 3-1; Conti was nipped by Fort LeBoeuf senior Craig Cihon, 8-6; Kitta was blanked by Milton senior Ryan Solomon, 3-0; and Garry lost in overtime to Mifflinburg sophomore Nazar Mironenko, 6-3.
Ligonier Valley sophomore Justin Patrick (103) was pinned by Bethlehem Catholic junior Darian Cruz in his semifinal match, and United senior John Blankenship fell to Bethlehem Catholic senior Elliot Riddick, 5-3. North Star senior Nick Roberts is going after his third title after he defeated Mifflinburg freshman Cole Walter, 16-6.
The Class AA finals are slated to begin at 2 p.m.