Kiski Area duo fall just short of PIAA wrestling gold
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HERSHEY — Because the PIAA Wrestling Championship brackets use pre-drawn pairings rather than subjective seedings, Kiski Area junior Shane Kuhn accepted that his path to the Class AAA heavyweight final put him on a collision course with nationally ranked Nazareth senior Aaron Bradley in the semifinals.
As expected, Bradley, a consensus top-10 heavyweight nationwide, and Kuhn, also a national name, clashed Saturday at Giant Center.
Kuhn fell from the ranks of the PIAA's unbeaten.
Then he bounced back in convincing fashion to take third, a one-place improvement from his finish a season ago in the weight class.
Kuhn (42-1) followed his 3-0 loss to eventual champion Bradley by pinning Methacton junior Tracey Green in the morning session, and then he wrapped up his tournament with a 3-0 victory over James Coughlin senior Brad Emerick in the medal match.
“I had a feeling that my semis match would be more like a finals match,” Kuhn said. “And after that, I knew third was the goal, but it wasn't really what I came here for.”
Senior 195-pounder Matt McCutcheon (37-2), a champion last season at 182, also left Hershey disappointed, as he lost to Hampton senior Jake Hart in a title match for the second time in a week. Hart, who won the WPIAL final in overtime, prevailed, 6-1.
“He's not the kind of kid who's going to complain and whine about it,” Kuhn said of McCutcheon, who apologetically offered no comment. “I feel for him. But I know that's not his only goal. He has goals down the road in college. That's the big picture. This will probably motivate him, if anything.”
McCutcheon, who also medaled as a sophomore, went into the rematch eager for revenge and aware that Hart, an Edinboro recruit and a returning state runner-up at 195, could handle the pressure of the PIAA stage.
Both escaped on each other to tie the match at 1-1. Hart went ahead, 2-1, after the officials penalized McCutcheon for fleeing the mat as he tried to avoid a takedown with 48 seconds left in the third period.
McCutcheon, forced to take more risks, attacked in desperation, but his aggression backfired, and Hart added four points on a takedown and near-fall in the final 12 seconds.
Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky questioned the fleeing call. But he acknowledged the match might've gone Hart's way without the officials' help.
“It was going to be a tough match to just get a takedown,” Tursky said. “And the person who got a takedown was probably going to win that match.”
McCutcheon, who will wrestle at Penn State, leaves Kiski Area with the legacy of securing the Cavaliers' first individual state title.
Kuhn, who has Division I offers for wrestling and football, knows he has the talent and drive to deliver Kiski Area gold next season.
“He's right up there with the best,” Tursky said. “That (semifinal) was probably the match. That could've been a final match, I felt.
“It's pretty amazing (Kuhn placed third) because after you're undefeated all year, and you take that first loss, there are some people that have problems bouncing back.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
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