Kiski Area wrestler tries to become 10th to win 4 WCCA titles
It's the oldest county wrestling tournament in the state.
It's rich in tradition where brothers have won numerous titles, cousins have battled each other, and generations of family members have squared off.
The annual Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament celebrates its 60th season beginning Friday at Franklin Regional, and by Saturday night, new chapters will be written. The finals are slated to begin at 7 p.m.
Kiski Area senior Matt McCutcheon, who has signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Penn State, is favored to win his fourth title, which would make him only the 10th wrestler to achieve that honor.
The last wrestlers to win four times were Franklin Regional's Nico Megaludis (Penn State) and Derry's Travis Shaffer (Pitt), both in 2011.
“Matt has been wrestling really well,” Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said. “He's been unbeatable and like a machine.”
McCutcheon is 17-0 at 195 pounds. He's ranked No. 1 by the Tribune-Review. Burrell senior Dakota DesLauriers (182 pounds) is seeking his third county title, but it won't be easy.
He will face stiff competition from Belle Vernon senior Adam Nickelson, Norwin senior Drew Phipps and Kiski Area freshman Tyler Worthing, all ranked in Class AAA. DesLauriers (9-0) is ranked No. 1 in Class AA.
“I'm looking forward to the challenge,” DesLauriers said. “The county tournament is one of the toughest tournaments in the state. There are so many great wrestlers in the county, and it would be an honor to be a three-time champion.”
DesLauriers would become the 32nd three-time winner.
Twelve others are looking for their second titles. Among the past winners are Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer, Tyler Smith, Josh Maruca and Josh Shields; Greensburg Salem seniors Tyler Reinhart, Zach Voytek and Tanner Hahn, and junior Anthony Cable; Latrobe junior Zack Zavatsky; Kiski Area's Shane Kuhn; Hempfield's Ricky Cavallo; and Belle Vernon's Nate Russo.
“There are going to be some great matches,” said Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine, who was a three-time champion. “This year is no different: 103, 120, 145, 182 and 285 are among the toughest weight classes.”
DeAugustine said that every year someone new steps up at the highly anticipated event.
Luke Pletcher (106) of Latrobe, George Phillipi (113) of Derry, Worthing (182) from Kiski Area and Jake Beistel (285) of Southmoreland are some of the freshmen to watch.
Pletcher and Southmoreland sophomore Austin Griffiths are ranked No. 1 in the state in their classes — Pletcher (AAA) and Griffiths (AA).
Latrobe is the two-time defending team champion. Wrestling will get under way at 5 p.m. Friday with first-round and quarterfinal matches.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.