Hampton's Hart finally breaks through for county wrestling title
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The losses in the finals of the Allegheny County Wrestling Championships the past three seasons bothered Hampton's Jake Hart enough — the podium ceremony just added more displeasure.
“I used to be shorter than the third-place guy,” Hart said.
The 195-pound senior stood well above everyone else Saturday night.
Hart, a 5-foot-9 four-time finalist, became a first-time county champion as he edged North Hills' Alen Turcinhodzic, 5-3, at Fox Chapel High School. The top seed, Hart held a 4-3 lead after two periods and gave himself breathing room by escaping the No. 3 seed's control 20 seconds into the final period.
“He's always been huge, just jacked,” Hart said of Turcinhodzic, who like Hart trains at Pitt. “I knew that's his strength, so I just had to rely on my quickness.
“It feels awesome to finally be on top of the podium. … It was nice coming in with the mindset that I was going to win it.”
Keystone Oaks senior 132-pounder Nick Zanetta and West Mifflin 113-pounder Jimmy Harrison knew the feeling.
After back-to-back second-place finishes, Zanetta claimed a title with a 6-2 victory over North Hills' Drew Walker. An underdog the past two seasons but a No. 1 seed this time, he jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the first period and avoided mistakes in the final two periods.
“I was more confident, and I tried to score as many points as possible,” Zanetta said. “It's different (being the favorite) because you have a target on your back. I kind of like being the underdog. You have to learn a different style (as the favorite) because they wrestle you differently.”
Harrison, a No. 1 seed who was runner-up at 106 last year and 103 the year before, placed first with a 4-2 win over South Fayette's Seth Carr in the 113-pound final.
No stranger to the role of favorite, North Allegheny junior 120-pounder Dom Forys moved one step closer to becoming a four-time champion as he thumped Central Catholic's Vincenzo Joseph, 13-2, in the finals. Both entered the bout as defending champs — Forys won at 113 a season ago, and Joseph claimed the crown at 106.
“I thought if I wrestled my style and my match, I could do that to anybody in the state,” said Forys, a champ at 103 in 2011. “I think we're both cutting down to (113), so we'll probably see each other at WPIALs and states.”
Titles won by Forys, 138-pounder Jesse Rodgers and 182-pounder Alex DeCiantis helped North Allegheny claim the team title with 240 points. Forys was named the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler.
Hampton, which had three champions — Hart, 145-pounder Kevin Synan and heavyweight Noah Shulman — took second.
North Hills also had three title winners: Gage Curry (106 pounds), Tyler Walker (126) and Jonathon Avon (160).
Allderdice's Brian Estep, Mt. Lebanon's Kellan Stout and Montour's Cole Macek fell just short of breakthrough victories for their respective programs.
Estep, hoping to become the second City League wrestler to win a county title, lost the 152-pound title bout, 5-4, in an ultimate rideout to Central Catholic's Kyle Coniker.
Stout, in position to become the Blue Devils' first champion, lost, 3-1, on a takedown at the buzzer to South Fayette's Mike Fetchet in the 170-pound final.
Macek, who would have been Montour's first champ, lost to Central Catholic's Zach DeLuca.
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