PIAA champs Smith, Pletcher win WCCA titles
It's a rarity when state champions match up during the regular season in wrestling.
But four state champions squared off in two finals at the 61st Annual Westmoreland County Coaches' Association tournament Saturday at Franklin Regional.
In fact, it was the second meeting between the champions already this season. And like the previous matchups, the results were the same with Franklin Regional senior Tyler Smith and Latrobe sophomore Luke Pletcher coming out on top.
Smith, the returning PIAA Class AAA 132-pound champion, rallied to defeat Hempfield junior Sam Krivus (16-2), the reigning PIAA Class AAA 120-pound winner, 3-2 for the 132-pound title. Smith (15-0) used a second-period takedown and good rising skills to pull out the win for his third WCCA title. He defeated Krivus, 7-0, in the Powerade finals two weeks ago.
In another showdown of defending PIAA champions, Pletcher (20-0) defeated Derry's George Phillippi, 4-2, to win the 120-pound title. Pletcher used a first-period takedown and a second-period reversal to beat the aggressive Phillippi (19-3).
“This is nice to win the county title, but I say beating Sam was more important,” Smith said. “Down the road the ultimate goal is to win another state title.
“I didn't wrestle my best, but he made some good adjustments. He's a tough competitor.”
Krivus said he felt better mentally and physically than he was in the first meeting.
“I wrestled a lot better. I got the first takedown and was able to set the pace early,” Krivus said. “I kind of got caught with a funky takedown in a scramble. He rides tough, and I have to work on getting out.”
The two may meet at least three or four more times this season, including in the Section 1 tournament late this month.
Pletcher said getting the first takedown was the key to beating Phillippi.
“These types of matches get you ready for the state competition,” Pletcher said. “Mickey is tough to keep down, but I knew if I stuck to my game plan I'd have opportunities.”
Four other wrestlers also became three-time champions: Franklin Regional juniors Josh Maruca (145) Josh Shields (152), Latrobe senior Zack Zavatsky (182) and Kiski Area senior Shane Kuhn (285).
Maruca (16-3) pinned Belle Vernon freshman Jarod Verkleeren (4-1) at 5:47, Shields (16-3) toppled Burrell senior Steve Edwards (14-2) 6-4, Zavatsky (19-0) won by technical fall 18-3 (4:29) against Greensburg Salem senior Zach Pasko (12-7), and Kuhn (22-1) dominated Burrell junior Allan Beattie at 285, winning 5-1.
Franklin Regional junior Michael Kemerer (19-1) won his second county title with a 6-2 win against Hempfield senior Joey Alessandro (16-3) at 138 pounds.
First-time winners included Valley senior Patrick Dewitt (16-0), Belle Vernon sophomores Austin Bell (21-4) and Milton Kobaly (16-4), Kiski Area sophomore Tyler Worthing (21-1), Hempfield junior Fred Mantsch (17-4), and Franklin Regional junior Devin Brown and freshman Spencer Lee.
Dewitt won the 120-pound title by defeating Kiski Area senior Ryan Hardaway, 6-4. Bell took the 160-pound crown defeating Franklin Regional senior Brandon Yant (14-5), 9-2, and Kobaly used an escape with 1 second left to edge Kiski Area junior Dakota Lange (17-8) 2-1 at 170.
Worthing overpowered Valley senior Marcus Davenport (15-2), 10-5, in winning at 195, and Mantsch took 220 by blanking Kiski Area sophomore Chad Kuhn, 6-0.
Brown (10-0) earned his 100th career win with a pin at 1:03 at 106, and Lee (22-0) held on to defeat Latrobe sophomore Ethan McCoy, 9-5, at 113.
Franklin Regional won its second consecutive team title with 290 1⁄2 points. Kiski Area edged Latrobe for second 187 to 186 1⁄2, and Belle Vernon took fourth with 152.