Area wrestlers overcome WPIAL losses with win in PIAA first round
HERSHEY — The mark of a champion is how he responds after a tough loss.
Franklin Regional sophomores Michael Kemerer (126 pounds) and Josh Shields (145), Greensburg Salem senior Tyler Reinhart (152) and Kiski Area senior Matt McCutcheon (182) all dropped last-second decisions in the WPIAL wrestling championships Saturday.
They all couldn't wait to get back on the mat Thursday at the PIAA Class AAA Championships at Giant Center.
All four responded with victories.
They weren't the only WPIAL wrestlers to win as 28 of the 42 entered in the tournament advanced to the quarterfinals at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Kemerer (36-5), who lost a controversial 3-2 decision to Canon-McMillan's Connor Schram last week, dominated East Stroudsburg South junior Jacob Ems, winning 5-1. Kemerer, who will face Owen J. Roberts junior Frank Colby, took Ems down twice and wouldn't allow him to escape.
“I put the match behind me a half hour after I lost,” Kemerer said. “I was really upset at first. My coaches and dad told me it's not the last week of the season and I still have a chance to make up for it. I just hoped to bounce back and forget it.”
Kemerer said he isn't looking ahead to a rematch with Schram because there are so many good wrestlers in the state. Kemerer finished second at 106 in 2012.
Shields (41-5), who lost a 3-2 decision to Canon-McMillan's Solomon Chishko, record a second-period pin of Erie McDowell senior Cody Nolan. He'll face Manheim Township senior Adam Smith in the quarters.
“We talked to them and reminded them that their ultimate goal is a state championship,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “We told them you can avenge that WPIAL loss in the state finals; that would make up for it.
“They've responded well at practice, and both of those matches gave them confidence that they would win those types of matches.”
Reinhart (38-6) used a second-period reversal to defeat Central Mountain junior Chad Reese, 2-0. Reinhart dropped a heartbreaking, 4-3 decision to Norwin's Heath Coles at 152.
“I did what I had to,” Reinhart said about his win. “The goal is win and move on.”
Greensburg Salem coach Randy Parsley said he was confident Reinhart would win.
McCutcheon (35-1), who was upset by Hampton's Jake Hart 3-1 in overtime, won an 8-2 decision against Bald Eagle Area senior Aaron Varner. He'll face Council Rock South senior P.J. Steinmetz (40-1) in the quarters.
Despite the win, McCutcheon wasn't pleased.
“I'm building a fire right now. ... I need to push the pace more on my feet like the coaches have been telling me,” McCutcheon said. “I'm kind of sitting back right now, and I need to attack more.”
McCutcheon said Varner was a strong kid, and he took awhile to get control of the match.
“I had to wear him down,” McCutcheon said. “He slowly started to wear down and started to get out of position.”
Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said McCutcheon is refocused.
“Matt is very self-motivated,” Tursky said. “Win, lose or draw, he's going to go out there and earn the win from him.”
Others advancing included: Kiski Area's Shane Kuhn (285), Latrobe's Luke Pletcher (106) and Zack Zavatsky (160), Hempfield Area's Sam Krivus (120), Greensburg Salem's Zach Voytek (160), Coles (152), Connellsville's Ethan Kinney (132) and Franklin Regional's Josh Maruca (138) and Tyler Smith (132).