Section 1-AAA wrestling tourney has some of WPIAL's best
When No. 2 Kiski Area defeated No. 4 Franklin Regional on Jan. 2, it was the first of a possible four meetings.
Kiski Area (13-0) defeated short-handed Franklin Regional (9-1), 36-23, rallying for the victory and the claiming the Class AAA, Section 1A title.
The teams can meet again in the Section 1-AAA team tournament finals Wednesday at Kiski Area as long as they win their opening-round matches — Kiski Area faces Section 1B runner-up No. 6 Greensburg Salem (12-2), while No. 6 Latrobe (7-2), the Section 1B champion, battles Franklin Regional. The opening matches begin at 6 p.m.
The postseason begins Wednesday with section tournaments in Class AAA and Class AA. The WPIAL team tournament is scheduled to begin Monday.
“All the Jan. 2 match decided was who was going to host this event,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “We're looking forward to another shot at them. We also could meet them in the WPIAL tournament and the PIAA tournament.”
Kiski Area has won the four previous matches, and Franklin Regional would like to reverse that trend. The Panthers were without Michael Kemerer, Trevor Medlang, John Wohlin and Luke Fleck in the first meeting. Kemerer and Fleck are expected to wrestle. Kemerer's backup, however, Dom Giannangeli performed well in the first meeting.
Even though he lost in the dual, his performance at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament helped Franklin Regional win its first team title. The Panthers dominated the county tournament.
Kemerer (126 pounds), Tyler Smith (132), Josh Maruca (145) and Josh Shields (152), all PIAA qualifiers last year, are the Panthers top wrestlers, while Kiski counters with PIAA champion Matt McCutcheon (23-0) at 195, PIAA placewinner Shane Kuhn (24-0) at 285 and Cole Landowski at 145.
“We got a couple key victories,” Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said after the first match. “Kyle (Skelly) hung in his match and pulled out a 3-2 win, and Dakota (Lange) won an overtime match. We'll wrestle whoever shows up.”
Latrobe coach Tad Harbert and Greensburg Salem coach Randy Parsley are eager to see how their teams perform against two of the top teams in the state.
“We have five or six talented teams in the section,” Harbert said. “It's going to be a grind.”
Latrobe has two of the top wrestlers in the state — freshman Luke Pletcher (106) and junior Zack Zavatsky (160). Tyler Reinhart (152), Zach Voytek (160) and Anthony Cable (220) pace Greensburg Salem.
Hempfield is at Gateway in the Section 1 fifth-place match.
The other Class AAA sites are at Connellsville (Section 2), North Allegheny (Section 3) and Canon-McMillan (Section 4).
In Class AA, No. 3 Yough (14-1) looks to win its first Section 2 tournament, but must defeat Bentworth and then the winner of the Mt. Pleasant-Jefferson-Morgan match.
“I'm confident in the team,” Yough coach Jeremy Zufall said. “There aren't many teams that can match up with us besides South Fayette and Burrell.”
The other Class AA sites are South Fayette (Section 1) and South Allegheny (Section 3).
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.