Greensburg Tribune-Review athletes of the week: Franklin Regional's Tyler Smith, Hempfield's Justyne Falbo
School: Franklin Regional
Claim to fame: Smith captured the PIAA Class AAA wrestling championship at 132 pounds Saturday after defeating Cumberland Valley's Patrick Duggan by a 5-3 decision in the finals. Smith, the Section 1-AAA champion and WPIAL runner-up, went 45-4 this season and has 120 career wins.
“It was really exciting,” Smith said of the state title. “I don't think I have been ever that excited in my entire life.”
What was your goal going into the state tournament?
My main goal was to go in there and win the state title. I thought and believed I could be the state champ at my weight class.
What was the turning point in the championship match?
I would say as soon as I got my first takedown to make it 3-2, I knew I could win it for sure.
What do you think you need to do to repeat next season?
My coaches and my teammates have worked hard all season, and we are going to continue working hard. We are all not satisfied yet. I think we have one of the best teams.
Who is your role model?
(Assistant) Coach (Ron) Tarquinio. He has been through it all. He helps me with any little thing, and he is always there to help me improve as a wrestler.
If you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?
John Smith, who was a wrestler at Oklahoma State and was a two-time Olympic champion. He is one of the better wrestlers in my opinion, and shares the same last name as me.
Claim to fame: Falbo won the Western Regional singles tournament at North Versailles Bowl on Friday after rolling a 238 against teammate Cortney Weirs, who bowled a 190, in the finals of the stepladder playoffs. Falbo also helped the team qualify for the state championships, after Hempfield finished second with a score of 3,317 total pins Saturday at the regional event. Falbo recorded a team-high 522 total points in three games.
“I was happy that I was able to come out with the win,” Falbo said. “I lost the prior year to my own teammate. At the same time, I was kind of upset I had to beat my own teammate to take the title.”
How was it like to face a teammate again in the singles tournament?
I knew I needed to just stay focused and not let it get into my head. It's just hard to play against your own teammate, but it's not as a bad as facing someone from another team. I just focused on bowling. I knew she had not been in that spot before. It was her first time making it to the title (match).
What are your college plans?
I'm planning on going to University of Maryland Eastern Shore to continue my bowling. They are a Division I bowling school, and they have won back-to-back bowling titles. My sister (T'nia) went there, and I'm following in her footsteps. I will major in criminal justice because I have always been into the CSI-type of shows, and I love mysteries.
Will it be a tough transition to collegiate bowling?
I probably would say just keeping a straight mind no matter what. Don't let little things bother me and brush it off. It's a team sport and not an individual sport in college.
If you could go any place in the world, where would you go?
I would say Italy because my family is full-blooded Italian. My grandparents are from there, and we own a restaurant there.
What's the best advice your sister, T'nia, has ever given you?
Don't let the other bowlers get in your head and keep a straight face.
— Andrew John