Norwin freshman Phipps secures 7th at PIAAs
Norwin sent only one wrestler to the PIAA Class AAA tournament in Hershey last week. But Kurtis Phipps made the most of the trip by coming home with a medal.
The freshman finished seventh at 106 pounds as he defeated Mifflin County's Christian Fisher, 6-0, in their consolation match.
“He did really well,” Norwin coach Brandon Miller said. “We wanted to get a medal. I think that was a minimum goal. He really wrestled well throughout the tournament.”
Phipps faced controversy in a 6-4 quarterfinal loss to Nazareth's Andrew Cerniglia. While he battled back from being down 6-0, Miller said they believed Phipps had scored more points. The referee disagreed.
“We knew we didn't want to leave it in the hands of the refs,” Miller said. “We thought we had more points.”
Phipps would rebound in the consolation bracket with a 3-1 win over Pottsville's Nick Onea.
“He came back with a nice win to get on the podium,” Miller said. “It is hard to lose a match in that fashion with some controversy and then come back and win a match.”
Phipps wrapped up his debut at the high school level ith a 36-5 record. While earning a state medal as a freshman is a great achievement, Miller said, and it will likely serve as motivation for Phipps moving forward.
“I know he wasn't happy because he expects so much from himself,” Miller said. “But with him not being satisfied, they will push him even harder. Next year I am expecting to see a different Kurtis Phipps and see him higher on the podium.”
Phipps' run at states capped a strong first season with Miller leading the program. The team had nine wrestlers go to the Section 1-AAA tournament with seven advancing to the WPIAL tournament.
“We are extremely happy with the season,” Miller said. “The coaches and I reflected on it on the drive back from Hershey. We missed a couple of milestones we wanted to hit. But we did reach a couple of them.”
The Knights should return a strong lineup next season, with five of this season's WPIAL qualifiers returning: Frank Gill (113 pounds), Jason Miller (126), Bryce Long (132), Ryan Weinzen (160) and Phipps.
In addition to the returning talent, Norwin also will bring in a crop of talented wrestlers currently at the junior high level.
“We want to keep reloading,” Miller said. “I think we are heading in the right direction. We will need some of the younger guys to step up and be leaders next season.
“Some of them have already been calling and texting me about when offseason workouts start.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.