Wilps finishes season strong at PIAA tournament
All that separated Chartiers Valley junior Noah Wilps and championship match at the PIAA Class AAA wrestling tournament was four seconds.
Wilps held a 4-3 lead over Penncrest's Joe Gartland in the 170-pound semifinals with only seconds left in the match. But a quick take down by Gartland in the closing moments of the match led to a 8-4 win over Wilps.
While the 170-pounder said it was disheartening looking back, he cannot complain about the finish to his season.
“To get to the semifinals and lose right at the end was disappointing,” Wilps said. “But I am happy I got to be on the podium. Most wrestlers weren't.”
Wilps picked up wins over Bellefonte's Nicholas Shawley, 3-2, and Kyle Narber, 5-4, en route to the semifinals. The junior suffered two losses in the consolation bracket finish in sixth place.
The finish at states was just an exclamation point on a season that included a second-place finish at WPIALs, third-place finish at the Allegheny County tournament and a seventh place finish at the Powerade tournament.
Wilps finished with a 32-11 mark.
While Wilps fell short of his ultimate goal of winning a state title, Chartiers Valley coach Bill Evans said there is no reason to be disappointed in his performance. Wilps' older brother Matt did not reach the PIAA tournament as a junior and other brother Tyler fell in the seventh place consolation match as a junior – both are now finding great success at Pitt.
“Matt didn't make it as a junior and he is No. 3 in the country right now,” Evans said. “It doesn't mean everything. His brothers never won a state title and have done fantastic in college.”
Evans went on to say while it may not seem like it now, the setbacks at states could just add fuel to a fire for Wilps to have a successful senior season.
“The biggest thing that happens at the state tournament is kids grow up,” Evans said. “When they come back they don't give up the easy stuff and battle a little harder.”
Wilps said he has his No. 1 goal will be returning to states next year but the biggest thing he may do next season is provide Chartiers Valley with leadership.
While he may not be the loudest of leaders, Evans said Wilps leads by example in every aspect of the sport and his hard work is being noticed by the underclassmen on the team.
“He has been a leader since he was a freshman,” Evans said. “Whether we are hitting the stairs or in the weight room or drilling, he out works everybody. He is going to come in next season and show guys what to do.”
Wilps won't be off the mat too long. The 170-pounder will take a few weeks off before he starts training in freestyle as he tries to reach the Junior Nationals in Fargo this summer. The lessons he learned from this season may help punch his ticket to North Dakota.
“States really solidified the idea I have to keep putting pressure on my opponents,” Wilps said. “In the semifinal, I stayed away and he won.
“I want to get extremely offensive. I feel like when I am, I can beat anyone.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-583-6847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.