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Kiski Area wrestlers hoping to challenge for WPIAL team title

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Class AAA

Preseason Top 10

1. Canon-McMillan (26-0)

The defending PIAA and WPIAL champions return state titleist Cody Wiercioch and state runner-up Connor Schram. Once Solomon Chishko returns from an injury sustained in the Super 32, the Big Macs will be hard to beat.

2. Franklin Regional (14-4)

If any WPIAL team can challenge the Big Macs it could be the Panthers, a young team that is loaded with talent led by Michael Kemerer, Tyler Smith, Josh Maruca and Josh Shields.

3. Hampton (22-2)

The Talbots return 10 starters and are well-balanced. They are led by PIAA runner-up Jacob Hart, who recently signed with Edinboro.

4. Kiski Area (20-1)

As usual, Kiski Area will be in the mix for a section and WPIAL title. Penn State recruit Matt McCutcheon, a returning state champion, and PIAA fourth-place finisher Shane Kuhn will lead the Cavaliers.

5. Greensburg Salem (13-6)

The Golden Lions return a solid squad with the likes of Zach Voytek, Tyler Reinhart and Anthony Cable leading the way. The Lions will be without PIAA placewinner Tanner Hahn, who injured his knee during football season.

6. North Allegheny (20-6)

An extended football season will keep the Tigers from reaching their potential early, but they could be a tough team to beat in late January and early February. Look for Dom Forys and Alex DiCiantis to lead the Tigers.

7. Connellsville (16-5)

The traditionally strong Falcons shouldn't be overlooked. They have made the playoffs every year since the program's inception in the late 1970s. Ethan Kenney, a PIAA placewinner, is one of the teams top wrestlers.

8. Central Catholic (8-5)

The Vikings will be led by Vincenzo Joseph, a PIAA placewinner in 2011-12.

9. Butler (19-6)

The Golden Tornado returns 10 starters including PIAA qualifier Blake Caudill. Nine other starters also return.

10. Hempfield (10-6)

The Spartans will be a tough team to match up against. They are led by Sam Krivus, Ricky Cavallo and Dom Nania.

Others to watch: Chartiers Valley (12-8), Peters Township (13-5), Belle Vernon (12-8), Latrobe (9-9), Norwin (9-8).

Class AAA

Section breakdown

Section 1A Franklin Regional and Kiski Area return numerous starters and will battle for first.

Section 1B Greensburg Salem and Hempfield are favorites, but Norwin and Latrobe return PIAA placewinners, as well.

Section 2A Connellsville is led by PIAA placewinner Ethan Kenney and Brandon Umbel.

Section 2B Peters Township, Bethel Park and Mt. Lebanon will battle for top spot.

Section 3A North Allegheny and Butler return 10 starters.

Section 3B Hampton returns 10 starters, and Central Catholic nine.

Section 4A Canon-McMillan has five PIAA placewinners back.

Section 4B Hopewell has 11 starters back, while Montour, West A. and Ambridge are solid.

WRESTLERS TO WATCH

Preseason wrestler of the year

Cody Wiercioch

Canon-McMillan, Sr.

Pitt recruit is a two-time PIAA champion with a 123-4 record.

Others to watch

Michael Kemerer, F. Reg., So.

He was 39-1, won WPIAL title and was second in PIAA at 106.

Sam Krivus, Hempfield, So.

He went 45-4, was a WPIAL champ, third in the PIAA at 113.

Connor Schram, C-M, Sr.

Stanford recruit is 114-8, a two-time WPIAL champion and finished second in PIAA at 120.

Josh Maruca, F. Regional, So.

He went 36-7, placed fifth in the PIAA, third in the WPIAL at 126.

Ethan Kenney, Connellsville, Sr.

Three-time PIAA qualifier was seventh at 132 with 121-26 record.

Solomon Chishko, C-M, Jr.

WPIAL champ with 90-7 record was third in the state at 138.

Heath Coles, Norwin, Sr.

He was the WPIAL champion at 145 and owns 90-24 record.

Zach Voytek, Gbg. Salem, Sr.

Has 120-22 career record, was WPIAL runner-up at 152.

Zack Zavatsky, Latrobe, Jr.

WPIAL champ at 160 finished eighth in PIAA and is 82-16.

Alex DiCiantis, N. Allegheny, Sr.

He placed third in WPIAL and owns an 80-32 career record.

Matt McCutcheon, Kiski Area, Sr.

Was school's first state champ at 182, has 121-12 career record.

Jake Hart, Hampton, Sr.

Second in the PIAA and WPIAL at 195 and has 99-20 record.

Alex Campbell, C-M, Sr.

At 103-36, placed second in WPIAL and fifth in state at 220.

Shane Kuhn, Kiski Area, Jr.

He placed second in the WPIAL and fourth in the state ay 285.

Class AA

Preseason Top 10

1. Chartiers-Houston (16-6)

With three PIAA qualifiers back — Rich McGinnis, Tanner Sutton and Garrett Vulcano — the Bucs are poised to capture the WPIAL Class AA championship.

2. Burrell (16-10)

A new coach (Bud Sines) and an inexperienced team didn't stop Burrell from winning another Class AA title last season. With 10 starters back, a return trip to the finals is very possible.

3. Kittanning (12-7)

The Wildcats return 11 starters, including 2010-11 PIAA champion and last year's state third-place finisher Jason Nolf, who has a 87-1 career record after winning his first 85 bouts.

4. Jefferson-Morgan (15-4)

Eight starters along with PIAA qualifiers Jason Miller and Dustin Conti will help fuel the Rockets' attack in 2012-13.

5. South Fayette (13-8)

PIAA qualifiers Seth Carr, Jared Walker and Michael Fetchet should help the Lions push Chartiers-Houston in Section 1 and the WPIAL.

Others to watch: Bentworth (17-9), Yough (15-7), Derry Area (11-7), Keystone Oaks (6-15), Valley (13-11).

District 8city league

1. Allderdice (10-5)

The Dragons return four league champions, including PIAA qualifier Ean DiSilvio (132 pounds).

2. Carrick (6-4)

The Raiders return three PIAA Northwest Regional qualifiers, which includes seven returning starters.

3. Obama Academy (4-4)

The Eagles return three Northwest Regional qualifiers.

district 6heritage conference

1. Blairsville (16-4)

The Bobcats return 11 starters, including PIAA placewinners Scott Thompson (182, sixth) and Andrew Doak (152, seventh). Noah Tarr (138) also was a PIAA qualifier.

2. Ligonier Valley (6-8)

The Rams return seven starters, including the Patrick brothers, who were PIAA placewinners. Justin (38-3) placed fourth at 106, while Josh (22-4) placed fifth at 113.

— Rankings and breakdowns compiled by staff writer Paul Schofield

Class AA

Section breakdown

Section 1A Chartiers-Houston is the favorite, but South Fayette returns three PIAA qualifiers.

Section 1B Burgettstown returns 10 starters, including PIAA placewinner Austin McDermitt (106). South Side Beaver returns 10 starters.

Section 2A Jefferson-Morgan returns eight starters, including PIAA qualifiers Jason Miller (120) and WPIAL champion Dustin Conti (170).

Section 2B Yough returns eight starters with double-digit wins. Derry graduated four-time champion Jimmy Gulibon.

Section 3A Keystone Oaks returns 11 starters, including PIAA runner-up Nick Zanetta (126).

Section 3B Burrell returns 10 starters, and Kittanning 11.

WRESTLERS TO WATCH

Preseason wrestler of the year

jason nolf

Kittanning, Jr.

PIAA champ at 103 in 2010-11 is two- time WPIAL and regional champ with 87-1 career record.

Others to watch

Austin Griffiths, Southmore., So.

WPIAL runner-up was third in the state at 106 and went 38-5.

Zach Swarrow, Beth-Center, Sr.

Has 99-34 record. Was eighth in state, third in WPIAL at 113.

Nathan Reckner, S.S. Beaver, Sr.

Returning WPIAL champion at 120 owns a 111-21 career record.

Nick Zanetta, Keystone Oaks, Sr.

He was PIAA runner up at 126 and has 97-22 career record.

Shane Gentry, S.S. Beaver, Jr.

Placed eighth in the state in at 132 and has 81-22 career mark.

Nick Gavazzi, Charleroi, Jr.

Returning WPIAL champion at 138 has a 64-14 career record.

Tanner Sutton, C-H, Sr.

Returning WPIAL champion at 145 has a 99-23 career record.

Jared Walker, S. Fayette, So.

Returning WPIAL champion at 152 went 36-15 last year.

Michael Fetchet, S. Fayette, Sr.

WPIAL runner-up at 160 ended fifth in the state and is 85-38.

Dustin Conti, Jeff-Morgan, Sr.

Won 170-pound WPIAL title, was fifth in PIAA and is 100-32.

Garrett Vulcano, C-H, Sr.

WPIAL runner-up at 170 placed third at regional and is 109-35.

Dakota DesLauriers, Burrell, Sr.

Returning PIAA runner-up and WPIAL champ at 182 is 116-14.

Jake Temple, Avella, Jr.

At 62-16, he placed third in WPIAL and second in region.

Jonah Long, Mt. Pleasant, So.

WPIAL runner-up at 220 was 32-9 in 2011-12 despite injury.

Top high school sports

By Paul Kogut

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 11:34 p.m.

With two of the top wrestlers in the country highlighting an experienced roster, Kiski Area could be poised to put a firm headlock on plenty of individual and team honors this season.

The Cavaliers return three PIAA qualifiers, including the team's first state champion, and five other WPIAL qualifiers from a squad that won the Section 1-AAA title and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals.

Kiski Area is ranked No. 4 among 48 WPIAL Class AAA teams by Trib Total Media. The regular season opens Friday.

“I think we have a very solid lineup with some outstanding guys, and that makes you a team that has to be respected,” Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said. “Barring injuries, we could qualify up to seven guys for states, if not more.”

The Cavaliers' leader on the mat is NCAA champion Penn State recruit Matt McCutcheon, ranked No. 4 in the nation at 195 pounds by Intermat.

Last season, McCutcheon (41-1, 31 pins) captured the PIAA Class AAA title at 182 pounds. Even though he's highly touted at 195, there's a possibility he could drop to 182 again during his quest for a second crown.

“One thing my dad and coaches have said is that repeating is harder than the first one,” McCutcheon said. “There are some people that win and think they're on top and don't work as hard. I'm trying to work as hard, or even harder, than last year.”

Kiski Area also features a Division I prospect in junior Shane Kuhn (37-6, 29 pins), who is ranked No. 11 nationally in the 285-pound class by Intermat. Last season, Kuhn took WPIAL runner-up honors and placed fourth in the state. And he did that even though he was light enough to compete at 220. He chose to move up and probably will again.

The versatile Kuhn, who also is a standout linebacker/tight end, has started receiving Division I interest in wrestling and football, according to Tursky.

“Before his high school career is all over, he'll have choices to make, and that's a good thing,” Tursky said about Kuhn's recruiting.

Senior 138-pounder Cole Landowski (31-5) placed third in the WPIAL and qualified for states last season. The Division II Pitt-Johnstown recruit provides the Cavaliers with a solid leader in the lighter weights.

Kiski Area's other returning WPIAL qualifiers and their probable weight classes this year are seniors Shawn McGowan (160) and Kyle Skelly (152), juniors Ryan Hardaway (120) and Jake Ardellitz (132), and sophomore Vaughn Curcio (126).

Freshman Tyler Worthing (182), who had a distinguished youth career, also should contribute.

Fox Chapel

The Foxes finished 2-3 and ended up one win short of qualifying for the Section 3-AAA team tournament last season, but they could be ready for a return to the playoffs.

For leadership, Fox Chapel will lean on junior Corey Mahon (152) and sophomore Tyler Heasley (160), who qualified for the WPIAL individual tournament last season.

But their jobs will be made easier by the return of seniors Tyler Lever (285), Artie Newman (126) and Jared Rice (113). All of them had last season cut short by injury.

“They give us a big boost in leadership and experience,” said Fox Chapel coach Ron Frank, who enters his 33rd season with the Foxes.

Frank is pleased by the turnout of nearly 30 wrestlers, including a large, promising group of freshmen.

“We'll experience some growing pains the first part of the season, but the whole room is working hard,” Frank said. “We're delighted the way things are going.”

Knoch

The Knights showed improvement last season but still are seeking their first trip to the team playoffs since joining the WPIAL in 2006-07.

Knoch's most experienced wrestlers include seniors Blaine Elliott (126) and Tyler Hlebiczki (145) and junior Trevor Hilliard (152). Brian Mowry (195), a 6-foot-6 senior, is a new face and will be among the tallest wrestlers in the WPIAL.

“When he showed up, I asked him if he was in the wrong place, if he was on the basketball team,” Knoch coach Mark McLaughlin said. “He said, ‘I hate basketball.' ”

The coach's son, junior Col McLaughlin (145), has transferred to The Kiski School, a private, all-male boarding school located in Saltsburg that competes in the Interstate Prep School League.

Plum

Hamstrung by injuries, Plum failed to fill a handful of weight classes at times and struggled last season.

However, with more than 25 wrestlers available to cover 14 weights, things are looking much more positive, Plum coach Mike Supak said.

The Mustangs will be led by a pair of WPIAL qualifiers — senior Jake DiGuilio (220) and junior Eric Green (132).

During the offseason, Plum was realigned from Section 1-AAA, which includes Kiski Area, to Section 3-AAA, which remained home to Fox Chapel and Knoch.

Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at pkogut@tribweb.com or 724-224-2696.

 

 
 


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