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2-time WPIAL champion wrestler Kenney of Connellsville High chooses WVU

| Saturday, May 25, 2013, 1:26 a.m.
Barry Reeger I Tribune-Review
Connellsville's Ethan Kenney (top) attempts to score on Upper St. Clair's Corey Wilding in their 132-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA individual championships March 1, 2013, at Norwin.

When Connellsville senior Ethan Kenney made his decision as to where he would attend college, it was somewhat bittersweet for Connellsville wrestling coach Tom Dolde.

Kenney accepted an athletic and academic scholarship to attend West Virginia. There, he will wrestle for the Mountaineers and study engineering.

Dolde is thrilled to have Kenney be the 28th Connellsville wrestler to earn a Division I scholarship, and he estimates that more than $2 million in scholarship money has been earned by Connellsville wrestlers at Division I programs throughout the years.

But seeing Kenney move on isn't easy.

“He has been our team leader for three years,” Dolde said. “His work ethic and attitude toward school and athletics made him the face of our program. It's really tough to lose him. He's a great kid, and he's always been willing to help the team through sacrifice and hard work.”

Kenney's body of work is outstanding.

Kenney was a four-time PIAA qualifier. He placed seventh in the state tournament twice and ended his high school career with a third-place medal at states in 2013. Kenney also is a two-time WPIAL champion.

He finished his career with a 155-33 record.

Kenney met and defeated a number of challenges as a high school wrestler, and he will get the opportunity to test himself at West Virginia, which competes in the Big 12 Conference.

However, wrestling is just one of the reasons Kenney chose to become a Mountaineer.

“They have a good engineering program at WVU, and it's close to home, so I can come home and see my brother (Tyler Kenney) wrestle,” Kenney said. “That helped with my decision.”

Of course, wrestling also was a big factor in his decision.

The Mountaineers finished with a 2-10 record this past season, and Kenney is looking forward to the challenge of helping to make the program stronger.

“WVU is comprised of a lot of WPIAL guys,” Kenney said.

“They are looking to build it back up, and hopefully, I will be a part of that.”

Kenney expects to wrestle in the 141- or 149-pound weight class.

Kenney is proud to be the 28th Division I wrestler from Connellsville, and he is hoping that his brother, Tyler, who will be a sophomore at Connellsville this season, can follow a similar path.

“It's a good feeling, and hopefully my brother can go to Division I also,” Kenney said. “Hopefully, this serves as motivation for him to keep working hard.”

Dolde, while saddened by the fact that Kenney will be extremely difficult to replace, has little doubt that he will succeed at the next level.

“I expect nothing less at WVU,” Dolde said. “The things he is doing right now is the reason we do this. It's the goal for all of our kids. The basis is education, and without that, what would be the point of high school sports? He will be a scholar-athlete, and that's what it's all about.”

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