Share This Page

Latrobe's Pletcher scores PIAA wrestling gold

| Saturday, March 9, 2013, 10:15 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Luke Pletcher is declared the winner after he defeated Solanco's Connor Sheehan by a 8-2 decision during their 106-pound championship match at the PIAA Class AAA individual wrestling championships Saturday, March 9, 2013, at Giant Center in Hershey.
Latrobe's Luke Pletcher takes down Solanco's Connor Sheehan for a score during their 106-pound championship match at the PIAA Class AAA individual wrestling championships Saturday, March 9, 2013, at Giant Center in Hershey. Pletcher won by a 8-2 decision. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)
Latrobe's Luke Pletcher celebrates with head coach Tad Harbert after he defeated Solanco's Connor Sheehan by a 8-2 decision during their 106-pound championship match at the PIAA Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships on Saturday, March 9, 2013, at the Giant Center in Hershey. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)
Latrobe's Luke Pletcher looks to score on Solanco's Connor Sheehan during their 106-pound championship match at the PIAA Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships on Saturday, March 9, 2013, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Pletcher won by a 8-2 decision. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)

HERSHEY — As Latrobe freshman Luke Pletcher walked off the Giant Center floor Saturday at the PIAA Class AAA wrestling championships, he flipped his headgear to a young fan in the stands.

He wasn't done; he also stopped and signed autographs.

While Pletcher may be only a freshman, he wrestles and handles himself like a veteran.

Pletcher, a five-time Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling champion, won his first PIAA title with an 8-2 victory against Solanco junior Connor Sheehan at 106 pounds. Pletcher hopes it's the first of many PIAA titles.

He wasn't the only Westmoreland County wrestler to capture a gold medal. Hempfield sophomore Sam Krivus won his first title with a 3-1 win against Canon-McMillan junior Dalton Macri at 120, and Franklin Regional junior Tyler Smith rallied to defeat Cumberland Valley sophomore Patrick Duggan, 5-3, to win his first at 132.

Smith's teammate, sophomore Michael Kemerer, finished second for the second consecutive year when he dropped a 5-3 decision to Canon-McMillan senior Connor Schram, who became a two-time state champion. It was Schram's fourth time in the finals. He won the 103 title in 2010.

Pletcher (41-2) became Latrobe's second state champion. The first was Ryan Goodman in 2006.

After Sheehan tied the score, 2-2, with a spladle in the second period, Pletcher got an escape and then a takedown to go up, 5-2. He closed out the scoring with an escape and takedown in the third period.

Pletcher didn't show much reaction after the match.

“I was excited. I just didn't show it,” Pletcher said. “Winning a PIAA title feels a lot better than winning five PJWs.

“When he hit that move, I got scared. He caught me pretty quick, and I wasn't expecting that at all. After that, I knew I felt I had to build the lead.”

Pletcher injured his left knee during the match, but he fought through the pain.

“I smacked my knee pretty hard,” he said.

Krivus (40-3) also didn't celebrate after his match. It was his ninth consecutive win on the mats at Giant Center. Last year, he lost his first match, then won five consecutive to finish third.

“Winning the title hasn't hit me yet,” said Krivus, who became Hempfield's ninth state champion and first since Jake Kemerer in 2009. “I feel awesome. Just knowing all the hard work I put in during the season finally paid off.”

This was the fifth time Krivus and Macri had met during the past two seasons, and Krivus said all have been close. Macri almost had a takedown in the first period, but Krivus scrambled and eventually scored a takedown.

“You never give up anything, and I came out on top,” Krivus said. “It's always tough wrestling him.

“He likes to push the pace and is always driving. I tried to slow down the pace and get him out of his game.”

Smith (45-4) did celebrate his victory. He turned to his coach, Eric Mausser, and pumped his fists and yelled out.

“I'm not the fastest starter, but I believe I work harder than anyone else, so at the end of the match I believe it's my time to shine and not their time,” Smith said. “This is the best feeling ever. I've been training my entire life for this. Next year I want to repeat, but now I'm living in the moment.”

Smith, who joined three-time champion Nico Megaludis as the only state champs in Franklin Regional history, said being in shape was the difference.

After the medal presentation at 126 pounds, Schram turned to Kemerer, shook his hand and uttered words of encouragement.

“He's a great wrestler, and I told him to come back here and win two state titles like I did,” Schram said. “He's a tough kid. He definitely has a shot.”

Hampton senior Jake Hart made sure last week's win against Kiski Area senior Matt McCutcheon wasn't a fluke. Hart rallied to defeat McCutcheon, 6-1, to win the 195-pound title. After the win, Hart did a backflip in the middle of the mat.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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.