Kiski Area's Kuhn, McCutcheon advance to PIAA semifinals
HERSHEY — A supersized “hoss,” as described by Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky, might've slowed down junior heavyweight Shane Kuhn Friday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAA individual championships, but the Cavaliers' big man remained the star in this rodeo.
Kuhn, shorter and lighter by several inches and pounds, scored an early takedown and held on for a 3-2 win over Warwick senior Tom Devenney, who ranked, by Kuhn's own admission, among his largest and most athletic opponents.
With the victory, Kuhn improved to 40-0 and advanced to the PIAA semifinals for a second consecutive year. He'll wrestle Nazareth senior Aaron Bradley in the semifinals, which begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey.
“You don't stay underneath of him for very long and you finish your shots quick, because you can't keep the leg up in the air that long, he's so big,” said Kuhn, who scored the takedown 33 seconds into the first period and earned the match-deciding point on an escape midway through the second. “It's small variations (in strategy), but I have to stick to my own stuff. It's a mix between heavyweight and athletic lower weight.”
Kuhn placed fourth in the 285-pound weight class last season as something of an up-and-comer.
This season, there's no anonymity, particularly because he's the only unbeaten wrestler in the weight class.
“It feels good to know that people know who you are now, but it's also expectations to live up to, so there are positives and negatives,” Kuhn said. “I guess I just feel like another guy here. I don't know how other people see me, but for me, I feel like I'm at states just trying to win as many matches as I can.”
His teammate and fellow semifinalist, senior 195-pounder Matt McCutcheon, knows the feeling.
A season ago, McCutcheon entered the state tournament as one of the few title contenders, and he left with the gold.
Now, as a returning champion signed with Penn State, McCutcheon is a must-see grappler.
Council Rock South senior P.J. Steinmetz, another Penn State recruit and a returning third-place finisher at 195, came close to edging McCutcheon in their quarterfinal bout. McCutcheon managed a reversal early in the second period to go ahead 2-0. But Steinmetz closed the gap with the help of controversial third-period penalties on McCutcheon, who was called for stalling with 22 seconds left and for locked hands with just :02 left on the clock.
Overtime ended in dramatic fashion, as McCutcheon scored a takedown with seven seconds left and proceeded to pin Steinmetz.
“I got a little frustrated out there, getting so many calls against me like that,” McCutcheon said. “I had to keep my head a little bit. I'm excited I came out at the end.”
Kiski Area assistant Chris Heater considered the close match a positive for McCutcheon.
“We've been looking for something to spark Matt a little bit, and I think that scenario kind of did it a little bit,” Heater said.
McCutcheon will begin Saturday with a semifinal against Dieruff junior Jovon Reyes.