Pitt-bound wrestler Zanetta gets final shot at nemesis Nolf
HERSHEY — Keystone Oaks senior Nick Zanetta knows the tale of his high school career is among the stranger ones in WPIAL history.
Zanetta hopes it ends with a positive plot twist.
Eager to avoid a legacy defined by second-place finishes, Zanetta will wrestle Kittanning junior Jason Nolf for the 132-pound title in the PIAA Class AA finals beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday at Giant Center. Zanetta lost to Nolf in the Section 3, WPIAL and Southwest Regionals this season — each margin of defeat was three points or fewer. He gets one more chance to change the outcome before he heads off to Pitt to wrestle for the Panthers.
“Second place, I'm sick of it,” he said. “Every match, I'm getting closer. I can taste it.”
Their latest rematch hinged on Zanetta, who edged Hanover junior Ian Brown, 5-1, in the tiebreaker period of overtime.
Zanetta and Brown failed to score during regulation. Meanwhile, on the next mat over, Nolf's match ended early, as he pinned Pius X sophomore Michael Comunale with 52 seconds left in the second period.
Nolf and his coach, Brandon Newill, watched as Zanetta, in the first half of the tiebreaker period, scored a reversal and then three back points with 8.0 seconds left.
“It's whatever,” Nolf, a state champion in 2011 and a third-place finisher last season, said of the rematch. “I didn't know who'd win it (between Zanetta and Brown). But I figured (before the tournament) it'd be one of them.”
Zanetta endured a string of silver-medal performances a season ago, when Derry standout Jimmy Gulibon beat him in the WPIAL, regional and PIAA finals. He accepted that such a scenario might happen again this year in a weight class that included Nolf, a wrestler who now owns a 131-1 career record.
“Whoever wants it (the title) more is going to get it,” Zanetta said. “We've both been there before, so I don't think we're going to hold anything back or stall.”
Zanetta-Nolf is one of two all-WPIAL matchups in the state finals.
In a rematch of the WPIAL championship, Derry freshman George Phillippi and South Fayette senior Seth Carr will wrestle for the PIAA crown at 113.
Phillippi, who beat Carr, 1-0, in the WPIAL finals, edged Boiling Springs sophomore Korbin Myers, 2-1, in the tiebreaker portion of overtime.
“I can't believe (that) just happened,” Phillippi said. “This means everything to me. I wanted to be in the state finals since I was six. I dreamt about it. It's finally coming true.”
Carr, the Southwest Regional champ, scored the deciding takedown with 34 seconds left in overtime of his 10-8 semifinal victory over Claysburg-Kimmel senior Josh Brown.
“I got a little angrier and started shooting more,” said Carr, who trailed, 6-3, midway through the second period.
Other finalists from the WPIAL are Burrell senior Dakota DesLauriers (182 pounds), who beat Saegertown sophomore Dylan Reynolds, 9-1, to earn his second straight title bout bid; and Chartiers-Houston senior Garrett Vulcano (195), who topped senior Adam Geigner of District 3's Trinity, 5-2.