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Freshmen Worthing, Phipps pull off impressive wins

| Friday, March 1, 2013, 10:27 p.m.
Norwin’s Drew Phipps (top) keeps Canon McMillan’s Steve LaFrance from escaping during their 182-pound bout in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA individual wrestling championship March 1, 2013, at Norwin. Phipps won by a 5-1 decision. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)
Penn-Trafford's Casey McGowan scores the winning takedown on North Allegheny's Blynn Shideler in overtime of their 126-pound match in the consolation round of the WPIAL Class AAA individual wrestling championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. McGowan defeated Shideler by a 11-9 decision. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Norwin's Heath Coles escapes from Central Catholic's Kyle Coniker in their 152-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Coles defeated Coniker by a 5-1 decision. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Montour’s Cole Macek (top) says his wrestling has helped him develop a tackling technique.
Kiski Area's Cole Landowski (top) pins Hampton's Kevin Synan at 5:33 in their 145-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA individual wrestling championships Friday, March 1, 2013, at Norwin. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)
Central Catholic's Vincenzo Joseph (top) controls Plum's Tommy Zummo in their 120-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Joseph defeated Zummo by a 16-1 major decision. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Waynesburg's A.C. Headlee (left) battles Connellsville's Daniel Leonard in their 113-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Headlee defeated Leonard by fall at 2:43. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Elizabeth Forward's Lukas Etzel (left) battles Belle Vernon's Brendan Hasson in their 120-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Etzel defeated Hasson by a 4-2 decision. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Salem's Tyler Reinhart (behind) hangs onto Fox Chapel's Tyler Heasley in their 152-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Reinhart defeated Heasley 5-4 in double overtime. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Canon-McMillan's Angelo Broglia lifts Connellsville's Dylan Miller in their 285-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Broglia defeated Miller 2-1 in overtime. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Barry Reeger I Tribune-Review
Connellsville's Ethan Kenney (top) attempts to score on Upper St. Clair's Corey Wilding in their 132-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA individual championships March 1, 2013, at Norwin.
Connellsville's Dylan Miller ties up with Canon-McMillan's Angelo Broglia (right) in their 285-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Broglia defeated Miller 2-1 in overtime. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
North Hills' Gage Curry (top) controls Shaler's Mike Heinl in their 106-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Curry won by a 11-3 major decision. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Kiski Area's Tyler Worthing (top) takes Butler's Ryan Hannon to the mat during their 170-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA individual wrestling championships March 1, 2013, at Norwin. Worthing won by a 5-2 decision. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)
Latrobe's Luke Pletcher (top) pins McGuffey's Gage Nicolella at 4:53 in their 106-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Kiski Area's Tyler Worthing (left) lifts Butler's Ryan Hannon during their 170-pound match in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at Norwin High School on March 1, 2013. Worthing won by a 5-2 decision. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review

It's not uncommon for a freshman wrestler to perform and even win titles in the lightweights at the WPIAL/PIAA Class AAA Southwest Regional tournament.

But for the kids in the upper weight classes, it's not that easy.

Kiski Area's Tyler Worthing (170 pounds) and Norwin's Drew Phipps (182) aren't wrestling their age.

“They look like seniors,” Norwin coach Todd Schuchert said. “Drew's maturity is pretty impressive. They both look polished.”

Phipps (34-5) rolled into the semifinals with a 5-1 victory against Canon-McMillan senior Steve LaFrance, the only Big Mac to fall in the quarterfinals Friday at Norwin. Phipps, seeded third, will face No. 2 Alex DeCiantis of North Allegheny in the semifinals that begin at noon.

“The season has gone alright so far,” Phipps said. “The goal is to qualify for states. I have a couple tough matches on Saturday.

“The only matches I've lost this season were to highly ranked wrestlers. I see myself at the same level as all these kids. I have the same chance of advancing like all of them.”

Phipps and Worthing, who are close friends, were two-time Junior Olympic champions. So wrestling top competition is nothing new for them.

Worthing (31-9) moved on with a 5-2 victory against Butler junior Ryan Hannon. He'll face two-time WPIAL and PIAA champion Cody Wiercioch of Canon-McMillan in the semifinals.

“It's a tough thing to do wrestling at the higher weights,” Worthing said. “But when you have a wrestling partner like Matt McCutcheon, best in the country, it doesn't get any better than that. I'm pretty excited. I have a great opportunity on Saturday.”

Worthing said he's learned a lot from McCutcheon, so he was prepared to face bigger and older guys.

McCutcheon, a returning WPIAL and PIAA champion, was in the same boat as Phipps and Worthing when he was a freshman. He qualified for the states by finishing third.

“The toughest part is being able to hand fight with the bigger guys and staying in good shape while you're hand fighting them,” McCutcheon said. “You have to get used to wrestling at this level.”

Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said Worthing is wrestling tough.

“We've asked him to go up to 195, 182 and now he's at 170,” Tursky said. “He's really picked it up a notch against the older guys.”

There will be two freshmen in the 106-pound semifinals. No. 1 Luke Pletcher of Latrobe and No. 2 Gage Curry of North Hills.

Pletcher (35-2), seeded No. 1 and ranked No. 1 in the state, while face No. 4 Tyler Kenney (25-8) of Connellsville, while No. 2 Curry (33-2) tangles with Canon-McMillan junior Brendan Price (36-6), who is seeded third.

The biggest upset of the night came when Hempfield senior Dom Nania pinned second seed Kellan Stout of Mt. Lebanon at 170. Nania (29-8) caught Stout with what he called his “cement move.”

“He kind of walked into it,” Nania said. “I'm known for my big moves, and that was the game plan when the brackets came out. It was how I wanted the match to go.”

Nania caught Stout in a front headlock and then elevated over on his back.

“It's a big chance move,” Nania said. “I'm looking forward to my next match.”

Nania will face Chartiers Valley junior Tyler Wilps in the semifinals.

A couple other highly seeded wrestlers avoided upsets.

• No. 3 Central Catholic senior Justin Alexander needed overtime to edge Latrobe's Jake Shaffer, 3-1, at 138.

• No. 1 Greensburg Salem senior Tyler Reinhart used an escape in overtime to beat Fox Chapel sophomore Tyler Heasley, 5-4, at 152.

• No. 1 Kiski Area junior Shane Kuhn was called for an illegal slam with five seconds left in his match, a 3-2 win at 285, and was fortunate that Gateway senior Jaymar Parrish was told to finish the match by his coach, assistant Bob Ladick.

Canon-McMillan advanced nine wrestlers to the semifinals, North Allegheny has five and Kisk Area, Central Catholic, North Hills and Franklin Regional four each.

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