Marquee duel at the Franklin Duals
If one of the goals for the Franklin Regional wrestling this year was to be a stronger dual-meet team, last weekend made it look like the Panthers are well on their way.
Franklin Regional was a perfect 5-0 on its way to taking the top spot in its Franklin Duals Tournament last Saturday, but the list of opponents makes FR's sweep that much more impressive.
The Panthers notched a win over the defending WPIAL Class AA champ, Burrell, 41-21, and the defending Class AAA runner-up, North Allegheny, 45-30, in two of the marquee team matchups during last Saturday's event.
Franklin Regional also picked up a 46-30 win over Waynesburg, a 55-18 win over Trinity and a 49-16 win over Keystone Oaks to round out its day on the mats.
Five individual wrestlers for the Panthers finished the day with 5-0 records — Michael Kemerer, Tyler Smith, Josh Maruca, Josh Shields and Brandon Yant. Nate Painter also finished the day with a perfect record at 3-0.
Smith's mark carried the most impressive individual win for a Panthers wrestler on the day. Wrestling at 132 pounds, Smith faced off against Nick Zanetta of Keystone Oaks, the 126-pound state runner-up in Class AA last year.
The match couldn't be settled in three periods and progressed to overtime, where Smith picked up two points for a 4-2 win.
Earlier in the week, on Dec. 11, Franklin Regional opened its Section 1A-AAA schedule with a dual meet win over Penn Hills, 66-18. The Panthers are scheduled to try for their second section win of the year on Wednesday against Woodland Hills, after this edition's deadline.
The Woodland Hills match is the last one for Franklin Regional before Christmas, and after the holiday, attentions turn back to individual competition at the annual Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament at Canon-McMillan High School.
This year's Powerade Tournament will be Dec. 28 and 29 and features 46 teams hailing from nine states.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.