Latrobe freshman wrestler hoping to make his mark at PIAA tournament
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Every year it seems a wrestler from the WPIAL flies under the radar most of the season and then puts together a solid weekend and qualifies for the PIAA Class AAA Championship at Hershey.
That guy this season was Latrobe freshman Jake Shaffer, who benefitted when the No. 3 seed at 138 pounds, Hempfield's Sean LaVella, was pulled from the tournament for breaking team rules.
LaVella, a senior, had beaten the freshman three times this season.
The sixth-seeded Shaffer (35-9) seized the opportunity. He defeated Central Catholic senior Justin Alexander, 1-0, in the third-place match. Alexander, who became the third seed, needed overtime to defeat Shaffer, 3-1, in the quarterfinals.
“This is awesome,” Shaffer said after his win. “I'm so happy. I knew I had a chance to win when LaVella was pulled out.”
When Shaffer got a second shot at Alexander, he said he knew he could win.
“I gained a lot of confidence in that first meeting,” Shaffer said. “I knew I could hold him down, and I did.”
Freshman Luke Pletcher (106) and junior Zach Zavatsky (160), who both won WPIAL championships, also will compete at the state tournament for Latrobe.
Being overshadowed by Pletcher, the state's No. 1-ranked wrestler in Class AAA, and Zavatsky didn't bother Shaffer. Watching his teammates work showed him what he had to do.
“Jake was often overlooked,” Latrobe coach Tad Harbert said. “I definitely thought he had a chance. The hug he gave me after he qualified is something I'll remember. It was special. When LaVella was pulled it opened things up a little. I could tell from Jake's attitude Saturday that he was ready. He wrestled with a lot of confidence.”
Shaffer said he was in and out of the rankings all season.
“I slumped a little around the Westmoreland County tournament,” Shaffer said. “Then I went on a winning streak. Luke and Zack have made their mark, now it's time I make mine.”
Shaffer opens his first PIAA tournament against one of the top wrestlers in the state: Central Dauphin senior Tyson Dippery (44-2).
Pletcher (37-2) will face Erie McDowell freshman Charlie Lenox (32-14), while Zavatsky faces Conestoga senior Logan Kerin (22-3).
Also in Class AAA, Canon-McMillan senior Cody Wiercioch (170) is going after his third PIAA title, while Kiski Area senior Matt McCutcheon will try to win his second after losing his first bout of the season last week in the WPIAL finals to Hampton's Jake Hart.
Wiercioch (40-1) will face Big Spring junior Cody Seibert (21-5), while 195-pounder McCutcheon (34-1) goes against Bald Eagle Area senior Aaron Varner (28-4).
Also going after his second PIAA title is Canon-McMillan senior Connor Schram (126), who placed second in 2011 and 2012, and won the 103-pound title in 2010.
Franklin Regional sophomore Michael Kemerer (126) and Hart (195) also were PIAA runners-up last year.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- High winds knock out power, injure man at Cranberry construction site
- Brackenridge high-rise infested with bed bugs
- Clues to Chief Justice John Roberts’ thinking on new ObamaCare case
- U.S. Steel to relocate corporate headquarters on former Civic Arena site
- Allegheny County will stop asking about employees’ criminal history, executive says
- Allegheny judge Woodruff, ex-Steelers corner, to run for Pa. Supreme Court
- Attorney: Ferguson grand jury has reached decision
- Allegheny County buck could prove to be state’s largest ever taken
- New Kensington-Arnold employee suspended over alleged inappropriate contact with student
- Pennsylvania human services agency gets new name
- Coal Center’s High Point restaurant for sale as owners ease into retirement