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Trio of Plum wrestlers qualify for WPIALs

| Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Three Plum wrestlers will continue on to the WPIAL tournament after placing in the top five at the Section 1-AAA tournament last weekend.

Freshman Gavin James (113 pounds), along with seniors Dom Davido (145) and Keyshawn Smith (195), all punched their ticket to wrestle in the WPIAL Class AAA championships Friday and Saturday at Canon-McMillan.

“We wrestled hard. We are a pretty young team,” Plum coach Steve Stremple said. “The tournament went pretty much how we expected. There were a couple matches we thought we could have done better in here and there. Honestly, we did better as a team this year, but overall, individually it was a lot tougher.”

Davido, who placed third by defeating Joey Williams from Greensburg Salem, 4-0, will look to improve upon his 2-2 record at last year's WPIAL tournament.

“It's tough competition, so I though Dom wrestled pretty well,” Stremple said. “He just got caught with his arm above his head and gave up some extra points we weren't expecting, but he battled on that and did well.”

Smith and James battled injuries all season. James, who finished fourth, broke two fingers (one compounded), setting him back almost eight weeks, and Smith, who placed third, also broke a finger along with suffering from bronchitis just after Christmas.

Smith defeated Penn-Trafford's Matt Wilkie, 5-2, in the third-place match at 195.

James lost to Franklin Regional's Zach McCann in the third-place match at 113.

“A football ankle injury was bugging (Smith) all year, so getting him in shape in the beginning was a little rough,” Stremple said. “(James) is getting in much better shape; he can push himself through the third period now, just need to shake some of that rust off. He was a top junior high wrestler and a state qualifier there, so transitioning into a varsity wrestler and missing a lot of time was tough. He is an athletic kid; he has been wrestling forever, so really looking forward to the next three years with him.”

Just missing out on a WPIAL tournament berth was Joe Delpino (132), who placed sixth in the tournament, losing to Derek Grafton from Armstrong. Joe's brother, Mike, also is on the team, and both “are incredibly hard workers, working out together all season and in the off-season,” the coach said.

They both had double the wins they had last year, according to Stremple.

The top four finishers at the WPIAL tournament advance to the PIAA tournament, March 9-11 in Hershey.

Alec Italiano is a freelance writer.

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