Six pack of Plum wrestlers gearing up for WPIALs
The WPIAL/Southwest Class AAA championships is an annual tradition for Plum varsity wrestlers, and this year is no exception, as six Mustangs grapplers will be in action this weekend at Norwin High School.
The top five finishers at each weight class from the four AAA sections qualified for WPIALs, and Plum was well represented in the placement bouts at Saturday's Section 3 tournament at Fox Chapel High School.
“It was a young group coming in here, so it was a good experience for them to mix it up in a tournament of this intensity,” Plum head coach Mike Supak said.
“The idea was to compete hard, get the wins and move on to the next round. Six of 11 who competed is a nice number. We obviously wanted more, but the guys wrestled well. The guys are just concentrating now on getting ready for the next step.”
The AAA championships begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Norwin and continue Friday at 5:30 p.m. and then Saturday at 10 a.m.
The top three finishers from the WPIAL tournament will move on to the PIAA championships in Hershey from March 7 to 9.
At WPIALs, there will be four pigtail matches in each weight class, and the wrestlers who lose pigtail matches will not continue in the tournament.
It was that one-and-done format that caught senior Jake DiGuilio last year.
DiGuilio is hoping for a better WPIAL experience this season. He placed third at 220 on Saturday.
“I know I will have a better first match this year at WPIALs and not a pigtail match,” DiGuilio said. “I have a lot more confidence going to WPIALs this year. I'm not coming off a fifth-place finish at sections like I did last year. I know I can compete with the top kids at WPIALs.”
DiGuilio defeated Mars senior Johan VanWyke, 11-1, in the finals and improved to 25-9.
“He kept giving me his arm, which I like to hit my dump off of,” DiGuilio said.
“It sets it up every time. He kept rushing in and tried to bull rush me, and it worked for me. You could tell it was really bringing him down.”
Also taking third at the Section 3 tournament was junior Eric Green at 138 and sophomore Nate Turchick at 182.
Green makes a return trip to WPIALs.
He won two close consolation bouts at sections — an overtime victory in the consolation semifinals and a 3-2 win over Hampton senior Chris Olszewski in the third-place match.
Green now is 25-10 on the season.
“I had a feeling the match (with Olszewski) would be close, because I wrestled him earlier in the season and that match was also close,” Green said.
“I knew that if I wrestled my match and controlled it as much as I could, I would win. It feels good to take six guys to WPIALs, because I think we're getting better as a team and closer like a family.”
Turchick will wrestle at WPIALs for the first time as he rebounded from a loss in his first bout at sections to win three in the consolation bracket.
He improved to 22-10 overall and capped off his tournament with a quick 1:36 pin of Fox Chapel junior Rich Giovanetti in the third-place match.
“I wrestled (Giovanetti) twice earlier this season and both were quick pins. I won one and he won one,” Turchick said.
“I thought about just going at it quick. I was going to WPIALs either way. I wanted to be aggressive and go all out. The day started out pretty rough with the loss, but I had a talk with my coach after that and was able to pick things up.”
Freshman 120-pounder Tommy Zummo placed fourth in his first section tournament. He went 2-2 on Saturday and dropped a tough 6-5 decision to Butler senior Blake Caudill in the third-place match.
Zummo enters his first WPIAL tournament with a 26-12 record. Caudill was the second seed, and he now is 32-5.
Sophomore 152-pounder Zach Martin also is preparing for his first WPIAL tournament after taking fourth at the sections.
Like Zummo, Martin suffered a close one-point loss in his third-place match, and he now is 25-13 on the season.
Martin clinched a spot at WPIALs when he edged Fox Chapel's Tyler Heasley, 4-3, in the consolation semifinals.
Junior heavyweight Stephen Turchick just missed a trip to WPIALs last year, as he suffered a close loss in the fifth-place heavyweight match at the Section 1 tournament at Gateway.
He had his shot at redemption Saturday, and he took advantage of that with a fourth-place finish.
Turchick lost in the third-place match, but he clinched a spot at WPIALs and won his 20th match of the season with a 4-3 decision win over Butler senior Damian Wheeler in the consolation semifinals.
Junior 170-pounder Andy McRandal had his sights set on the WPIAL tournament, but a shoulder injury derailed his plans in the consolation bracket.
McRandal was forced to default to North Hills junior Elliot King during their consolation quarterfinals match, and he wasn't able to return for the fifth-place match and had to default to Knoch junior Ben Nowicki.
McRandal, who came into the tournament with a 21-8 record, had beaten Nowicki, the fourth seed, by a 12-4 score in the quarterfinals.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at email@example.com.