Freshman among Kittanning's section wrestling champs
If Kittanning freshman Jacob Robb had any doubts about how he'd handle varsity-level playoff pressure late last week, he left Avonworth High School on Saturday night assured of his fortitude.
Robb prevailed in the Section 3-AA individual tournament's most dramatic championship match, defeating Valley's Marcus Davenport, 8-6, in overtime of the 160-pound final.
“I was real nervous for every match,” said Robb, who added the finals brought his anxiety to an apex.
With less than two seconds left in the extra period, Robb scored the deciding takedown. He and Davenport scrambled near the edge of the mat, and Robb rolled just enough to wrap his arms around his opponent.
The waning moments of the third period were almost as lively. Robb, in the top position for the entire two minutes, attacked and adjusted but failed to turn Davenport. But his persistence paid off when the match official penalized Davenport for stalling and awarded Robb the match-tying point.
All six of Davenport's points came from takedowns. Four of Robb's were from escapes.
“I was tired, but I think I was in better shape than him,” said Robb, who edged Davenport, 11-9, during the regular season.
Robb delivered the third of Kittanning's four titles Saturday. Junior Jason Nolf (132 pounds) and senior Zac Croyle (195), both returning champions, again came out on top in their weight classes. And senior Taylor Jack (152) secured a long-awaited gold medal.
Nolf, who improved to 35-0, endured his closest match of the season as he edged Keystone Oaks senior and Pitt recruit Nick Zanetta, 1-0, in the finals. The match was scoreless through two periods, but Zanetta (26-2), a PIAA runner-up a season ago, managed to stay on top and in control for just 18 seconds in the third period before Nolf earned an escape.
Croyle, on the other hand, cruised during his championship bout against South Allegheny's Seth Hitchens. He secured a 19-4 technical fall with 42 seconds left in the third period.
Jack, in a rematch of last season's section final, met Burrell's Corey Falleroni and reversed the result, winning 5-2. In 2012, Falleroni won, 2-1.
“I did what I practiced all week to do against him, and I executed,” Jack said. “(The title) is not what I really want, though.”
The first-place finishes will bolster the seeding of all four Wildcats at the WPIAL Class AA championships, which begin Friday at Chartiers Valley High School.
All 11 Kittanning wrestlers at the section competition advanced to the WPIAL round after placing fifth or better Saturday. The Wildcats had six finalists, which tied Valley and Burrell for the most. Logan Robb (220) and David Grafton (285) placed second, Brendon Malia (106), Christian Emminger (126), Derek Bowser (138) and Elliot Zydonik (170) took fourth, and Nick Croyle (145) came in fifth.
Three West Shamokin wrestlers earned spots at the WPIAL tournament. Brenden Glover (160) took third, Brian Brown (145) placed fourth and Brian Lukehart (113) took fifth.
In the third-place match, Glover avenged a two-point regular-season loss to Burrell's Nick Pattock by winning, 5-4.
After descending the medal stand, Glover continued to analyze his only loss of the day: a 24-12 setback to Valley's Davenport in the semifinals.
“I think giving up single-legs was my biggest mistake,” said Glover, a second-time WPIAL qualifier. “I think I've got a lot work to do this week.”