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Moon wrestling finds success under new coach

| Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, 8:45 p.m.

The Moon wrestling team is off to one of the best seasons in recent years. With a new coaching staff, led by Mike Muraco, the team has adjusted well and it has shown, with an 8-4 overall record and 4-3 mark in WPIAL Class AAA, Section 4B during the regular season.

“We demanded a lot out of the team this year,” Muraco said. “They have responded by executing. We are very proud.”

The team has gained a lot of experience over the past few seasons, with wrestlers continuously returning to the team. The team meshed well after being together year after year.

“We have a strong group,” junior Nick Acuna said. “It was a process over the years, but we all saw it coming.”

Acuna has had a strong season himself, posting a 20-3 record and ranking fifth at 138 pounds in WPIAL Class AAA.

“There is a different culture under the new coaching staff, but it has been beneficial,” said junior Frankie Bonura, who has a 23-1 record and is ranked third at 106 pounds. “There was a lot of focus on conditioning and dieting, and it has paid off.”

Muraco had high praise for his two talented juniors.

“They have done what we asked with conditioning and watching their nutrition,” he said. “That, with the addition of them working on their own time, shows it is paying off.”

Moon performed well at the Allegheny County tournament last month at Fox Chapel, with four wrestlers placing in the top eight.

Bonura was the 106-pound champion, winning a 13-6 decision in the finals. Acuna was the 138-pound champion, winning with a 3-0 decision. Senior Austin McConaghy finished in fourth place at 182 pounds, and senior Alec Yochym finished fifth at 195.

“I just stuck to what I know,” Bonura said. “I trusted what I have been doing all season.”

Bonura executed in the Allegheny County tournament the same way that he has all season.

“I had a tough road to the finals but was able to execute,” Acuna said. “I just had to focus on what I can do and handle.”

Acuna defeated the first seed in the semifinal bout before winning in the finals.

“The two seniors, McConaghy and Yochym, have been here from the beginning,” Muraco said. “They set the tone. We would not be where we are without them.” Between the key wrestlers, Moon has four wrestlers ranked top 10.

Moon's team season came to an end Monday after a loss to Butler in the preliminary round of the WPIAL team tournament. Moon hopes to have multiple wrestlers represent their school at the PIAA individual tournament, but first they will need to get past the section and WPIAL tournaments, set for Feb. 25, and March 3-4, respectively.

Cody Scott is a freelance writer.

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