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Franklin Regional wrestler backs up his words with 1st state title

| Saturday, March 8, 2014, 12:42 p.m.

HERSHEY — Franklin Regional freshman Spencer Lee made a bold declaration in early December while competing in the Ironman Tournament.

He wanted to be a four-time PIAA undefeated champion.

Lee earned his first state title Saturday at the PIAA Class AAA Championships at Giant Center with an impressive 15-5 victory against General McLane senior Joe Wheeling.

Then he sat back and watched Kennard-Dale senior Chance Marsteller complete the task.

Lee was just part of an impressive tournament by the WPIAL wrestlers, particularly his Franklin Regional teammates.

Lee dominated the match, recording six takedowns. He always kept the pressure on Wheeling.

“I wrestled OK,” Lee said. “My goal was to tech or pin everybody and I didn't do that. I won, that's all the counts.”

Lee said he's not worried about becoming a four-time champion. He knows he has to continue to train hard.

“I'll worry about the state title next year,” Lee said. “I'm worried about wrestling my best every match. I want to win everything. I've been working on this for a long time.”

Marsteller, who defeated Central Catholic senior Kyle Coniker 14-2 in the 170 finals, shared his thoughts about becoming a four-time champion. He and Solanco Thomas Haines became the 11th and 12th four-time champions.

“My goal when I was a freshman was to be an Olympic gold medalists,” Marsteller said. “So, to be kind, I knew this was going to happen. The work it takes to get put into it to get there, this was going to come along the way.”

When asked about what he thought if Lee, Marsteller said.

“Spencer Lee is going to be way better than I am. He's one of the most explosive wrestlers I've ever seen. He's an absolute animal. I love that kid, he's awesome.”

The WPIAL won the first seven weight classes and returned home with a record eight state champions.

Lee's teammate Devin Brown (106), Latrobe's Luke Pletcher (120) and Canon-McMillan's Solomon Chishko (145) all won their second state titles.

Brown (37-0, 132-10), who won his first as a sophomore in Class AA at Saegertown in 2013, defeated Northampton freshman Dan Moran 7-6. He never trailed in the match, getting the initial takedown and building a 5-1 lead in the second period.

“I didn't think it'd be that close,” Brown said. “I knew that I'd worked too hard to not win, so I just kept going at it.

“(This title) doesn't really compare much; this one was kind of tougher than last year because I had a lot of close matches. A lot of people say Class AAA is harder than AA, and I mean, it is what you make of it.”

Pletcher (43-0, 82-4) used a takedown in overtime to edge Pennridge senior Scott Parker 3-1. Pletcher has won 77 consecutive matches.

“I thought to myself that I was either going to win or lose in overtime,” Pletcher said. “I wasn't risking going into the rideout. He got out in 15 seconds.

“He relaxed for a second near the edge and I was able to take him down. He got a little lackadaisical and I pushed him because he looked a little tired.”

Chishko (27-3, 128-10) ended up knocking off another returning state champion, Father Judge senior Joe Galasso. Chishko won, 7-2. He was the 145 champion in 2013, and Galasso won at 138.

Other champs included Canon-McMillan senior Dalton Macri at 126, Penn-Trafford freshman Cam Coy at 132, Central Catholic junior Vincenzo Joseph at 138 and Latrobe senior Zack Zavatsky at 182.

Macri (40-2, 133-15) defeated Northampton senior Zach Valley, 5-1; Coy (39-5) edged Nazareth senior Chase Zemenak, 2-1; Joseph (40-3, 105-20) was able to pin Franklin Regional junior Michael Kemerer in a scramble in overtime; and Zavatsky (42-0, 166-18) used a second-period takedown to defeat Mt. Lebanon's Kellan Stout 3-1.

The wins by Macri and Chishko helps Canonsburg/Canon-McMillan pass Clearfield with most state champions in the state — 42.

Macri talked about being 41st Canon-Mac state champ: “We have a board up in our wrestling room, and it has section champs, WPIAL champs and state champs, and they all also have a ‘You?' I touch that ‘You' every day at practice while we're warming up. I took a mental picture of that you.”

It also was the first time in school history that Franklin Regional and Latrobe had two champions in one season.

The Panthers finished an impressive tournament by winning the team title with 119 points. Kemerer and Josh Shields (152) each finished second, and Tyler Smith (132) and Josh Maruca (145) each placed third. Eric Mausser also was named coach of the year.

Latrobe finished second with 60 points.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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