KO wrestling returning plenty of experience
The 2011-12 season was big for the Keystone Oaks wrestling team.
The Golden Eagles went 4-0 in Section 3-AA A subsection action, finished third at the Section 3-AA tournament and got a win at the WPIAL Class AA team tournament.
With several returning wrestlers and a few new athletes, the Golden Eagles are primed for a big season in 2012-13.
“I think we can progress,” Keystone Oaks coach J.J. Zanetta said. “Adding some guys to the roster alone will help us. We expect to go a little further this year.”
The biggest return for Keystone Oaks will be Nick Zanetta. The senior had a tremendous junior campaign, going 41-4. Unfortunately, Zanetta hit a wall in Derry senior Jimmy Gulibon at the WPIAL, Southwest Regional and PIAA Class AA tournament, preventing him from reaching his No. 1 goal.
“It is going to be the same goals this year as he had last year — a state title,” older brother J.J. said. “He didn't get it last year, so that's what he is shooting for now.”
Sophomore Brett Beltz returns, as well, after a strong campaign as a freshman. Beltz (30-13) won the Section 3-AA tournament, finished second at the WPIAL tournament and came up just shy of qualifying for the PIAA tournament at 120 pounds.
Beltz will compete at 138 or 145 this season, a move Zanetta said will be a learning experience.
“We expect him to keep growing,” Zanetta said. “He's not a typical wrestler. His style is pretty funky, and it gets him out of trouble. He knows how to scramble well, which should counteract some of the strength he might see.”
Senior Logan Ausman, who went 6-6 at 132 pounds last season, and junior Drew Trybus, who went 21-13 at 138 pounds and finished third at the Section 3-AA tournament, both return, creating a conundrum for Keystone Oaks. Ausman, Trybus, Zanetta and Beltz are all expected to wrestle between 132 and 145, making three spots for four wrestlers.
“It is going to be tough for them all to wrestle,” Zanetta said. “With four guys for three spots, someone will have to wrestle up.”
The Golden Eagles also tout 106-pounder Camden Anderson (17-15) and junior Jake Walker (10-12), who will make the jump to 182 pounds from 152 this season.
Keystone Oaks added heavyweight Brett Templeton.
“I expect him to get some wins,” Zanetta said. “You have to see him compete, though, before you can really tell how good he will be. When you get a guy coming out the first time as a senior, you want him to have a good experience. And we're expecting him to do that and get some wins.”
Keystone Oak also picked up Joey Kazalas, who will wrestle at 220 pounds. The youngster is the brother of former Golden Eagles wrestlers John and Michael Kazalas. Michael is one of only eight wrestlers to record 100 wins at Keystone Oaks.
“He will need some maturity,” Zanetta said. “But he has been around the sport for a while, so that should help. He will just have a learning curve.”
The Golden Eagles will be tested in Section 3-AA. In its subsection, Keystone Oaks once again will face Avonworth, Riverview, Shady Side Academy and South Allegheny. But Steel Valley was replaced by North Catholic.
Zanetta said Burrell, Kittaning and Valley — members of the 3B subsection — will prove to be challenges, but Keystone Oaks is more worried about itself than its opponents.
“We want our guys to approach every match the same,” Zanetta said. “Whether it is a first-year wrestler or a state championship winner, you want your guys to be consistent.”
Keystone Oaks returns to the mat Wednesday, when it travels to Riverview for a 7 p.m. start.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.