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Wilkins and Davidson seeded on eve of county tournament

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
The Times Express
Gateway sophomore Justin Leone takes control of his 132-pound bout against Plum’s Josh Kunisky. Leone scored a 14-2 major decision victory, but the Gators lost to the Mustangs, 52-16, on Jan. 4, 2013. Michael Love | The Times Express

The annual Allegheny County Tournament will be Friday and Saturday at Fox Chapel High School, and two Gateway wrestlers — senior A.J. Wilkins and junior Austin Davidson — are seeded in their respective weight classes.

Wilkins, who placed third at 106 at last year's tournament, is seeded third this year at 120, and two 2012 champions — North Allegheny's Domenic Forys and Pittsburgh Central Catholic's Vincenzo Joseph — are seeded first and second, respectively, at 120.

Forys won last year at 113, while Joseph did the same at 106.

“I don't see a weak bracket throughout the tournament,” Gateway head coach R.J. Santilli said.

“With 40 teams, there are a lot of quality wrestlers. If everything holds to form, A.J. would get Joseph in the semifinals.”

Wilkins, who missed the Southmoreland Holiday Tournament because of illness, weighed in at 120 for the first time this season for Gateway's match with Penn Hills on Jan. 2, and he received a forfeit victory.

He was rested for the Gators' match against Plum on Friday, and Santilli hopes he can compete well at this weekend's tournament.

Wilkins was 6-1 this season before Gateway's Section 1 matchup with Woodland Hills on Wednesday. The match was to be contested past the deadline for this week's edition.

The top 10 wrestlers at each weight class are seeded, and Davidson is seeded ninth at 160.

Last year, Davidson was unseeded at 170, but he battled through to place eighth.

Davidson, the 170 runner-up at Southmoreland, was 10-4 overall heading into the match with Woodland Hills.

“Austin has been wrestling well the past few weeks,” Santilli said. “I like his chances up against anybody right now.”

The top seed at 160 is Jonathan Avon from North Hills. He placed second at 145 last year.

Five champions from 2012 are back to try to win their weight classes. Joining Forys and Joseph in that category is Elizabeth Forward's Luke Etzel, the third seed at 126 who is the defending 126-pound champ.

North Allegheny's Alex DeCiantis won the 170-pound title last year, and he is the top seed this weekend at 182.

Hampton's Noah Shulman is the defending champion at heavyweight.

Wrestling begins at 10 a.m. Friday and continues at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Medals will be awarded to eighth place, and the Parade of Champions will be Saturday at 5:45 p.m. with the championship round at 6.

Things didn't go well for the Gators in their nonsection dual match with Plum, as the Mustangs earned a 52-16 victory.

Sophomore Justin Leone scored Gateway's lone victory in a contested bout with a 14-2 major decision over Plum's Josh Kunisky at 132.

Leone had Gateway's first takedown in the fifth bout of the match, and he recorded five takedowns overall. He improved to 5-6 with the win.

“Justin has worked hard on being more offensive on the mat,” Santilli said.

“He needs to be the person taking the shots and dictating the offense. Justin made (Kunisky) react to him, and that wore (Kunisky) down. He's really been wrestling with confidence.”

Close to 40 former wrestlers and others from the history of Gateway wrestling gathered Friday, and Santilli said he was pleased with the number of alumni who came back.

“We started the event only a couple of years ago, and each year, we get more and more alumni back,” he said. “It's really exciting. We are able to catch up with guys and see guys we haven't talked to in a long time.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at

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