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Nine Franklin Regional wrestlers advance to WPIALs

| Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Kiski Area's Noah Lovett (left) loses to Franklin Regional's Spencer Lee by fall in the Section 1-AAA wrestling championships Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 at Kiski Area High School. The win gave Lee four consecutive section titles.

Spencer Lee used to hang medals wherever he could around the house, but as the amount he accrued over his wrestling career continued to climb he decided to go with a more organized approach for keeping track of them.

“I used to just put them in random places in my basement, but now I have a stand that has little rings on it,” Lee said. “I put all my world medals on one stand, all my state medals on another stand and I put my WPIAL and section medals in a row. There are a lot of medals on that stand. It's pretty cool.”

Lee, the top-ranked wrestler in the country at 126 pounds, added another gold medal to the stand last Saturday as one of nine Franklin Regional wrestlers to advance to the WPIAL Class AAA individual championship at the Section 1 tournament at Kiski Area. The WPIAL finals are Friday and Saturday at Canon-McMillan.

Colton Camacho (120 pounds) also won a gold medal.

Dan Contraguerro (160), Peter Klein (170) and Logan Miller (220) were awarded silver. Mason Spears (106) and Zach McCann (113) earned bronze. Jimmy O'Neil (145) and Safan Rahim (182) advanced to WPIALs by winning fifth-places matches.

Lee, an Iowa commit, pinned his way to a championship. He defeated Latrobe's Tyler Zellers with a pin 26 seconds in, pinned Norwin's Jacob Miller at 43 seconds in the semifinal and won by fall at the 2:57 mark of the championship match against Kiski Area's Noah Levitt to secure his fourth section title.

“I just try to keep a good pace, a pace I don't think they can keep,” Lee said. “My motto has always been have fun and score points.”

Camacho, a sophomore, showed a lot of emotion following a 2-1 double-overtime win over Hempfield's Vincent Distefanis. Though he said he was tired, he mustered enough energy to pump his fists in the air following his first section championship.

“All that emotion after the third period was all heart and adrenaline,” Camacho said. “It's really tough to push through that last two minutes of the match. I didn't get to compete at sectionals last year so it's important to get as many section titles as I can now that I missed one last year.”

Camacho, who missed last year's individual tournament with a torn thumb ligament, improved to 3-0 against Distefanis this season.

“Colton beat a returning state place winner (Distefanis) in the (championship) match,” Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe said. “I think this is big for him and a big confidence booster going into (WPIALs).

Miller started off the day as the sixth seed, but the senior clawed his way into the final with a pair of upsets. He used a 5-0 decision to knock off No. 3 Ogden Atwood of Armstrong in the first round and defeated No. 2 Trent Patrick of Greensburg Salem in the semifinals with another 5-0 decision. Miller was pinned 2:57 into the final by top-seeded Tommy Starr of Kiski Area. Miller, who is in just his third season of wrestling, would've liked to earn a gold medal, but was content with silver.

“It's a good feeling, honestly,” Miller said. “Coming into (Saturday) I had seen all of these kids before, so I knew what I had to do to get in.”

Added Lebe: “Logan (Miller) is a great kid. He's only been wrestling for three years. I think he had 13 or 14 career wins coming into the season, so to get into the section final was awesome. He works for everything he's getting.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.

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