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WPIAL wrestling semifinals pack punch

| Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 10:12 p.m.

If you're a fan of wrestling, then you won't want to miss the WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championship semifinals Saturday at Canon-McMillan, especially the 126-pound weight class.

That weight class is stacked as four PIAA place-winners from 2013, including defending WPIAL and PIAA 120-pound champ Sam Krivus of Hempfield, will square off around noon.

Krivus (37-2), a junior, will meet Waynesburg junior A.C. Headlee (33-4) in one match, and North Allegheny senior Dom Forys (41-3) meets Canon-McMillan senior Dalton Macri (34-2) in the other.

All semifinal winners automatically qualify for the state tournament in Hershey. The finals start at 7. The losers drop into the consolations and must win twice to reach Hershey.

Headlee said he's looking forward to the challenge of facing Krivus.

“All four of us have been to states and won at states,” Headlee said. “You just have to wrestle your best, nothing else to do. All four of us deserve to go.”

Macri finished runner-up to Krivus in the state meet. Forys defeated Headlee for third.

“It's going to be a good display of wrestling,” said Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine of the semifinals. “The semifinals in the WPIAL are always good.”

While the opening day was pretty uneventful, Day 2 provided some upsets.

The best came at 160 pounds. Penn Hills junior TeShan Campbell (25-7) knocked off top-seeded Dom Scalise of Latrobe, 4-0. Campbell used a second-period escape and titled Scalise to his back for a three-point nearfall in the third period.

“I didn't shock myself,” Campbell said. “I knew I had to wrestle hard. Wrestling him last week in the Section 1 tournament gave me confidence.”

Scalise needed a late takedown for a 7-5 victory.

“I knew what I had to do, and I got it done,” Campbell said. “He was ranked 15 in the country. I felt comfortable hitting things. I feel confident in myself, and I'm going to win a WPIAL championship.”

Campbell will face North Hills senior Jonathan Avon (31-4) in the semifinals. Avon, seeded fifth, defeated fourth seed Devin Austin of Penn-Trafford, 7-4, and Waynesburg freshman Colin McCracken (30-6) shocked second seed Brendan Burnham of Pine-Richland, 4-3.

North Hills sophomore Gage Curry (34-0) knows he'll face a couple tough challenges. Curry advanced to the semifinals with a 6-0 win over Seneca Valley sophomore Alex Lynch, 6-0.

Curry said he wasn't pleased with his quarterfinal-round match.

“I didn't wrestle my best (Friday), but I'm looking forward to Saturday,” Curry said. “I was tired, and I didn't get a good warm up. I'm just focused on winning my first match and making it to states.”

A possible opponent in the finals is Franklin Regional junior Devin Brown (31-0), a returning Class AA state champion at 106. Brown is one of six Franklin Regional wrestlers to advance to the finals.

While Scalise came up short, five other Latrobe wrestlers advanced, including returning PIAA 106 champ Luke Pletcher (120).

There were 24 wrestlers from Westmoreland County who advanced, including six from Franklin Regional, five from Belle Vernon and three from Hempfield.

“We put ourselves in position to advance to the next stage,” DeAugustine said. “The three in the semifinals all will have tough matches.”

Joining Krivus were Joey Alessandro (138) and Fred Mantsch (220), who upset second seed Will Bortmas of Butler, 7-0.

Mantsch (25-7) said a left knee injury probably cost him a higher seed.

“The injury hurt me seeding, so I had a little motivation,” Mantsch said.

Greensburg Salem sophomore Dereck Berberick, who was seeded fifth, knocked off fourth seed Patrick Mayernik of Belle Vernon, 6-5 in a tiebreaker.

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