Franklin Regional to face Latrobe in PIAA wrestling final
HERSHEY – It will be an all-WPIAL, Westmoreland County and Section 1 final at the PIAA Class AAA team wrestling championship on Saturday.
That's because No. 1 Franklin Regional defeated District 11 champion Nazareth, 38-22, and WPIAL runner-up Latrobe edged WPIAL third-place finisher North Allegheny, 34-29, in the semifinals Friday at Giant Center.
Franklin Regional (22-1) and Latrobe will meet for the third time in three weeks at 1 p.m.
North Allegheny (17-2), which had mastered one-point victories in three of its past four matches, will wrestle at 11 a.m. in the consolation round.
Latrobe (16-2) needed a decision by Ethan Smith (145 pounds) and a major decision by Jake Shaffer (152) to rally.
Smith defeated A.J. Boeh, 8-3, to give Latrobe a 30-29 lead. Shaffer, leading 7-1, survived a headlock from North Allegheny's Drew Landefeld in the third period. Landefeld had the headlock secured, but Shaffer was on his knees.
When he had trouble breathing, Shaffer signaled for a team timeout to the dismay of the NA faithful.
Shaffer then was able to get a reversal and a two-point nearfall to secure the won, 11-1.
“Ethan showed so much heart, and it ended in a perfect spot with Jake Shaffer,” Latrobe coach Tad Herbert said. “We weren't expected to get pinned at 138, but the guys did an amazing job. It was a total team effort.
“I can't speak right now. I'm so excited. Everybody did their job. In this match, kids have jobs and we got big bonus points. Justin Short did a great job getting the pin at 182 when we bumped up.”
Latrobe led 21-6 after a pin by Tyler Mears (285) and a major decision by Zack Zavatsky (195). Earlier in the day, Latrobe handed District 1 champion Boyertown its first loss of the season, winning 32-23.
North Allegheny, which edged Parkland, 28-27, by criteria 1 in the quarterfinals, put together five wins in the next six weights to grab a 29-27 lead.
Luke Landefeld edged Ethan McCoy, 7-5, at 113. Zack Stedeford (106) got a pin and Dom Forys (132) a technical fall for North Allegheny.
Luke Pletcher got a pin at 120 for the Wildcats.
“It was a good day for WPIAL wrestling, a great day for Greater Latrobe,” Harbert said.
Franklin Regional started off to a quick 12-0 lead against Nazareth when Brandon Yant got a win at 160, Nate Painter (170) followed with a pin and John Wohlin (182) earned a win.
Nazareth took a 13-12 lead by winning the next three bouts, but Franklin Regional junior Devin Brown (106) rallied for an 11-4 decision against Tyson Klump and freshman Spencer lee (113) got a second-period pin to give the Panthers the lead for good at 21-13.
Franklin Regional clinched it by winning four of the final five matches. Josh Shields (152) and Michael Kemerer (138) got technical fall wins for the Panthers.
“We're in the finals. That was the goal,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “We started at a spot we usually don't start, but they got the ball rolling.
“They bumped their lineup a little, hoping they could steal some wins. But our guys stepped up.”
Franklin Regional defeated Latrobe, 46-28, in the Section 1 final and, 42-19, in the WPIAL finals.
In Class AA, Burrell stayed alive in the consolation round with wins against Western Wayne (55-10) and Chestnut Ridge (31-26).
The Bucs (14-4) will meet Huntingdon on Saturday morning in the third-round consolations.
South Fayette (20-3) fell to Saucon Valley, 47-24, in the first round of consolations.