Kittanning wrestling team wins dual tournament title
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Throughout this winter, Kittanning wrestling coach Brandon Newill has tried to squeeze more success out of his Wildcats, who entered the season as contenders for a WPIAL title.
The Wildcats have struggled at times to live up to Newill's high standards. But on Saturday in Johnstown, Kittanning delivered a performance that left its coach pleased.
With five victories, Kittanning (10-3) claimed the championship in the 10-team Richland Coaches' Duals tournament. Participating for a third consecutive year, the Wildcats won the event, albeit over a smaller field, after going 5-3 the last two seasons — the tournament, previously considered the largest duals competition in the state, had 28 teams as a two-day affair in 2012 and 35 in 2011.
“There were still a lot of good teams there,” Newill said. “I think we wrestled really well as far as, when we needed guys to step up, they stepped up.
“It was nice for them to win together as a team. That brings them closer.”
Placed in a five-team pool, Kittanning topped Cambria Heights, 34-24; Somerset, 38-31; United, 39-27; and Greater Johnstown, 57-6.
That set up a meeting with the other pool winner, District 6 Class-AA program Moshannon Valley, in the finals.
The championship bout opened with the 106-pound weight class, which Kittanning chose to forfeit.
A strategic decision, the Wildcats sent freshman 106-pounder Brendon Malia — who weighs closer to 95 pounds — out for the 113-pound bout against Joey Vanish. Newill considered it a more favorable matchup.
Newill's move paid off. Malia won, 6-3, to cap a day in which he finished with a 5-0 record.
Other keys to the match came from juniors Elliot Zydonik and David Grafton.
Zydonik, wrestling at 160 pounds, took on Cody Hamilton, a 152-pounder who Moshannon Valley had moved up. The opposition's decision backfired, as Zydonik secured six team points for Kittanning with a first-period pin.
Grafton, a heavyweight, stepped on the mat with Kittanning trailing, 31-30, in the final bout. He and Jack Bunnell remained tied at 1-1 through two periods. Then, according to Newill, with about 30 seconds left in the final frame, Grafton scored on a takedown, almost immediately allowed a reversal, and then earned an escape to secure a 4-3 decision.
“It was the most action I've seen in a heavyweight match in a long time,” Newill said.
Aside from Malia, three other Kittanning wrestlers left with 5-0 records: senior 152-pounder Taylor Jack, whose wins included two pins and a tech fall; freshman 170-pounder Jacob Robb, who had two pins and a major decision; and junior 132-pounder Jason Nolf, who accumulated three pins, including two in 138-pound bouts.
Also, senior 195-pounder Zac Croyle went 4-1. His only loss, 8-6, came in overtime to Moshannon Valley's James Stodart, a 2012 PIAA tournament qualifier.
Kittanning will begin the team postseason at 6 p.m. Wednesday, when, as the second-place finisher in subsection B, it'll take on subsection A winner South Allegheny during the first round of the Section 3-AA tournament, held at South Allegheny. With a win, the Wildcats will meet either Burrell or Avonworth in the championship later that night.
Regardless of Wednesday's result, Kittanning advances to the WPIAL team tournament.
“Now the focus shifts,” Newill said. “High school sports are fickle, because you can be a championship team one week and go 0-2 the next.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Franklin Regional wrestling rallies to top Belle Vernon, defends team title
- McGuffey tops Kittanning to reach WPIAL wrestling semifinals
- Plum senior wrestler bouncing back from early season losses
- Plum wrestlers gain momentum at West Mifflin Tournament
- High school wrestling notebook: Allegheny County event awaits big field
- Plum wrestler Turchick bounces back from early-season losses
- High school roundup: Butler edges Seneca Valley in final bout
- Connellsville, Southmoreland, Mt. Pleasant ready for WPIAL wrestling playoffs
- Hip to flip: WPIAL wrestlers find tumbling skills translate well on mat
- Connellsville falls short in WPIAL Class AAA wrestling quarterfinals
- Burrell makes statement in victory