Connellsville's Kenney collects 2nd WPIAL crown
Before Ethan Kenney took the mat for the 132-pound final Saturday at the WPIAL/PIAA Class AAA wrestling championships at Norwin, he told his coach, Tom Dolde, that he was leaving everything on the mat.
That's exactly what the Connellsville senior did.
Kenney surprised No. 1 seed Tyler Smith of Franklin Regional with a quick five-point move and then held on for a thrilling 14-12 victory to capture his second WPIAL title. His first came at 103 pounds in 2010.
Earlier in the day, Kenney (30-6, 151-32) rolled to an easy 10-5 win over North Hills senior Drew Walker.
“All in all, I had a good weekend,” Kenney said. “The finals match, I stopped wrestling near the third period and let him come back and ended up letting it be closer than it should have been. I guess I wrestled well.
“The big move allowed me to hold on. Too many times in my career I'd hit a big move and let a guy come back. I was close to doing the same thing; this time I was lucky enough to hold him off.”
Kenney is a four-time PIAA qualifier. He finished seventh at 132 in 2012 and seventh at 103 in '10.
Dolde said the goal is to place higher on the podium.
“Ethan's had a good attitude this season,” Dolde said. “He hasn't had trouble making weight. He dropped to 132 pounds in early January.
“He builds leads and then gets defensive. We'll address that at practice.”
Kenney will open the state tournament against Garden Spot senior Nick Cook (35-6), the fourth-place finisher from the Southcentral Regional.
“We won't worry about the brackets and his opponent until Monday,” Dolde said.
Kenney said winning his second WPIAL title means a lot.
“It showed my work and training in the wrestling room has paid off,” Kenney said. “Not to sound cocky, I already have a WPIAL title; I want a state title.”
Kenney's brother Tyler, a sophomore, ended up one victory from wrestling for third place.
Tyler Kenney lost to Norwin sophomore Kevin Miller in the consolation semifinal.
Freshmen William Bell and Tommy Provance, along with sophomore Matt Butler, gained valuable experience. Dolde said they each picked up either two or three wins.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.