Kittanning's Nolf wins 3rd WPIAL wrestling title
Opponents in a tournament final for the second time in a week, Kittanning junior Jason Nolf and Keystone Oaks senior Nick Zanetta adjusted their strategies based on what they learned during their first encounter.
While tactics changed, the outcome didn't.
Nolf, the No. 1 seed in the 132-pound weight class, broke a scoreless tie early in the third period during his 3-0 win over Zanetta in the WPIAL Class AA individual championships. Nolf claimed his third straight WPIAL title and improved to 125-1 in his career.
“I had to keep my pace up and hand-fight more, create more opportunities for myself,” said Nolf, who escaped with 1:41 left in the third period and scored a takedown with 17 seconds left in the bout. “He had more offense, too. He shot a lot more and hand-fought more.”
The two met last weekend in the finals of the Section 3-AA tournament, with Nolf earning a 1-0 decision in the title bout.
“I was in on a couple of shots (against Nolf),” Zanetta said of the WPIAL final. “I just need to capitalize and finish. He's tough to finish on shots.”
Burrell senior 182-pounder Dakota DesLauriers also claimed a third WPIAL title, as he edged Valley's Terrell Fields, 5-1, in a rematch of last season's final. All scoring occurred in the third period.
“Every time we wrestle, it gets closer,” said DesLauriers, who beat Fields in last week's section tournament as well as in last season's section, WPIAL and Southwest Regional tournament.
While Nolf and DesLauriers celebrated their third titles, a slew of other wrestlers became second-time champions.
South Side Beaver senior Nathan Reckner reigned at 120 pounds for a second straight season, as he prevailed, 7-0, in the finals.
Charleroi junior Nick Gavazzi defended his 138-pound title and improved to 32-0 with a pin.
South Fayette sophomore Jared Walker added a 160-pound championship to his 152-pound crown with a 3-0 win.
And Jefferson-Morgan senior Dustin Conti used the tiebreaker portion of overtime to finally top South Fayette's Mike Fetchet, 7-6, to remain unbeaten (34-0) and secure a second straight title at 170.
“I think that was one of my down matches,” Conti said. “Plus he's a tough kid. … It's just tough to keep it up the whole postseason.”
After many unsuccessful run-ins with Southmoreland's Austin Griffiths during this season and last, Burgettstown 106-pounder Austin McDermitt finally earned a “W.”
McDermitt, a No. 2 seed who lost to Griffiths, 11-2 and 5-2, earlier in the winter, nearly secured a pin during the second period of his 9-1 major decision in the finals.
Griffiths, a sophomore, finished as a runner-up for the second straight season, while McDermitt, also a sophomore, became the first Burgettstown champion since 2009.
Derry freshman 113-pounder George Phillippi and South Park freshman 126-pounder Greg Bulsak concluded their WPIAL tournament debuts in golden fashion. Phillippi edged South Fayette senior Seth Carr, 1-0, with a third-period escape, while Bulsak topped Bentworth senior Vince Vahaly, 4-0.
And Burrell sophomore heavyweight Al Beattie, who wrestled at Kiski School as a freshman, earned a title in his WPIAL debut.
Senior Phil Marra was Burrell's third champion with his win at 145 pounds. Freedom senior Boe Bonzo (152), Chartiers-Houston senior Garrett Vulcano (195) and Avella junior Jacob Temple (220) all won their first titles as No. 1 seeds.
The top seven finishers in each weight class advance to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament, which begins Friday at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown. South Fayette led all teams with eight regional qualifiers, and Mt. Pleasant and Chartiers-Houston followed with seven each.