Kittanning's Nolf tops rival Zanetta in close match for third WPIAL title
If nothing else, Kittanning junior Jason Nolf's run-ins with Keystone Oaks senior Nick Zanetta affirm that the Wildcats' standout needs just a few points to win big bouts.
In a rematch of last week's Section 3-AA tournament final, Nolf defeated Zanetta, 3-0, on Saturday night at Chartiers Valley High School in the title round of the WPIAL Class AA individual championships' 132-pound weight class. Nolf improved to 38-0 this season and claimed his third WPIAL title.
“I had to keep my pace up and hand-fight more, create more opportunities for myself,” said Nolf, who won, 1-0, with a third-period escape Feb. 16. “He had more offense, too. He shot a lot more and hand-fought more.”
Despite increased efforts by both wrestlers to score, a 0-0 tie again existed after two periods. Nolf, on bottom to start the third period, escaped after just 19 seconds. He added a takedown late.
“We both wrestled differently and kind of adapted to the things that happened in the last match,” Zanetta said. “I was in on a couple shots. I just need to capitalize and finish. He's tough to finish on shots. Everyone is tough to finish on at this point.”
Asked about Nolf's ability to again escape quickly, Zanetta explained: “Two minutes is a long time, so if you don't think you can (ride him out), it's better to go for a takedown.”
Nolf thwarted Zanetta's better shots with crafty countermeasures. Nothing about those close calls left the Kittanning junior shaken. Not even the match's outcome irked Nolf much — and Nolf often regards anything but a pin as at least mildly disappointing.
“I still try to pin everybody I wrestle,” Nolf said. “I just want to keep winning. I just want to take it match by match.”
A third Nolf-Zanetta title bout in as many weeks is possible, as both advanced to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament, which begins Friday at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.
“I don't care who I wrestle,” Nolf said.
Two teammates will join Nolf in Johnstown.
Senior 152-pounder Taylor Jack reached the WPIAL finals for the first time in his career, but he finished on the wrong side of a 6-3 decision to No. 1 seed and Freedom senior Boe Bonzo.
The result represented slight improvement for Jack, who lost, 14-6, to Bonzo a season ago. But Jack found no consolation in that fact.
“I expected to definitely not be in the same place as last time,” he said. “I can't even remember the last time, except that I got my (behind) beat.
“I probably should've moved my feet more, taken more shots. I know I'm a lot more focused and confident this year. I'm going all out because it's my senior year.”
Senior 195-pounder Zac Croyle rounds out the regional-qualifying trio. After an 8-2 loss in the semifinals, Croyle rebounded to place third, as he defeated Ellwood City's Brad Grinnen in the medal match.
Two Wildcats barely missed qualifying for the regional round. The top seven place-winners in each weight class advanced; Christian Emminger (126 pounds) and Elliot Zydonik (170) each took eighth.