Connellsville grappler Kenney scrapes by in first round of PIAA tourney
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HERSHEY — Connellsville senior Ethan Kenney knows when he doesn't wrestle well.
For some reason — and he doesn't know why — he lets opponents stay in matches.
Kenney (31-6) escaped with a 5-4 win against Garden Spot senior Nick Cook (35-7) in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA Wrestling Championships Thursday at the Giant Center.
Kenney got an escape in the third period to break a 4-all tie. He will face Clearfield senior Christian Stone (34-2) in the 132-pound quarterfinals Friday at 1:30 p.m.
“It wasn't my best match, not even close to it” Kenney said. “I need to open up on my feet, unlike that match.
“I have to listen to my coaches, and when they tell me to open up, do it, and things will be better.”
Kenney led, 4-1, after the first period, but Cook got an escape and takedown to tie the score.
“I got a little lazy on the edge, and it cost me,” Kenney said. “I let that match be closer than it should have been. During the match I realized it wasn't a good day for me. Hopefully I got that out of my system.”
Kenney is a four-time PIAA qualifier and a two-time seventh place finisher. His goal is to finish higher on the podium and become Connellsville's 14th state champion.
Southmoreland sophomore Austin Griffiths (33-4) wrestled a strong match and rolled to a 6-1 win against Wilson senior Jaryd Flank in a 106-pound Class AA match.
Griffiths will face Line Mountain sophomore Cameron Newman (35-7) in the quarterfinals at 9 a.m.
While Griffiths advanced, freshman Jake Beistel (285) dropped two matches and was eliminated for the tournament.
Beistel (34-7) dropped a 9-2 decision to Lakeview junior Sam Breese and then was pinned in overtime by Pen Argyl junior Brady Mutton.
“It was all positive (Thursday),” Southmoreland coach Ryan Shaw said. “Austin wrestled excellent and was in great position. If he continues wrestle like he's done in his past three matches and wrestle well on his feet, he'll be tough to beat.
“Jake wrestled well, too; he just got beat. People have to realize that Jake is only a freshman.”
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