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Champion Lee leads Franklin Regional wrestlers at Super 32 Challenge

| Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Canon-McMillan's Connor Schram battles Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer during their 126-pound championship match at the PIAA Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships on Saturday, March 9, 2013, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Schram defeated Kemerer by a 5-3 decision. (Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review)

For the past year, all Spencer Lee could think about was his loss to Nick Suriano of New Jersey in the championship round of the 2012 Super 32 Challenge.

So when he got his chance to wrestle against Suriano again in the championships this year, he made the most of the opportunity.

Lee, a Franklin Regional freshman, beat Suriano, 3-1, in the 113-pound championship bout late last month at the 2013 Super 32 Challenge in Greensboro, N.C.

The Super 32 is one of the top preseason wrestling tournaments in the country.

“I wasn't nervous before the match,” Lee said. “I was excited because I've been wanting this match for over a year. When I finally got to the finals and that match, I was so ready for the match. I was so excited to wrestle.”

The tournament annually brings together some of the top wrestlers in the country, and this season was no exception.

“The No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 and No. 7 kids in the country were in that (113-pound) bracket, and there was more than that,” Lee said. “There was about eight or nine top-20 kids in the country in that bracket, and there were 138 total in the bracket. The competition is unreal.”

Four Franklin Regional wrestlers competed at the Super 32. Freshman Gus Solomon and juniors Michael Kemerer and Josh Maruca competed at 113, 132 and 138 pounds, respectively.

“You see how you pair up with some tough kids,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “You have a lot of tough kids in this area, but you're kind of familiar with each other. When you go down there, you wrestle some good guys you're not familiar with. So you find some things you need to work on and some things you do pretty well, too.”

After Lee, Kemerer was Franklin Regional's top finisher at the Super 32. He placed second in the 132-pound bracket, his second straight runner-up finish after winning the title as a freshman.

Kemerer lost, 2-1, in double overtime to Hempfield's Sam Krivus in the 132-pound final.

“It's not the first time we've wrestled, and we're probably going to wrestle a bunch of other times,” Kemerer said. “I'd rather lose now than in March. It definitely motivated me before the season that I've got some work to do before the middle of the season comes around.”

Both Solomon and Maruca finished 4-2 in their respective brackets but didn't place in the top eight.

“It's the beginning of the year, and our goals are always (aimed) toward the end of the year for March,” Mausser said. “This was a good starting point for them to see what they need to work on and get better. All the guys that came back came back with things they wanted to work on, which was nice. It gives them a little bit of that hunger to work for their goals for March and winning the state championships.”

In addition to the Super 32, Kemerer said he competed in preseason tournaments in Orlando, Fla., and Fargo, N.D., as well as several wrestling camps. He also placed second at 132 pounds in the Who's No. 1 meet last weekend at Lehigh University.

Lee, who moved to the area over the summer from Saegertown, competed in the Cadet World Championships in August in Serbia.

While Franklin Regional's wrestlers fared well at the Super 32, so did the WPIAL as a whole. Besides Lee and Krivus, Kittanning's Jason Nolf and Latrobe's Luke Pletcher and Zack Zavatsky also won titles. Kemerer was joined by three other WPIAL wrestlers as runners-up in various weight classes.

“We represented ourselves well out there wrestling against pretty much the rest of the country,” Kemerer said.

Franklin Regional will now begin preparing for the 2013-14 season after finishing second in the WPIAL and third in the PIAA last season. The first official day of practice for winter sports is set for Nov. 18.

“I'm just excited to wrestle my high school season, to be with the team and competing all over the state and even the country a little bit,” Lee said. “I just can't wait.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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