Young lineup to play key role for Kiski Area wrestling
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In his more than 30 years of coaching high school wrestling, Kiski Area's Chuck Tursky has learned to expect the unexpected when dealing with a particularly young lineup.
Sometimes it's the freshmen's performances that are surprising.
Other times it's the questions the freshmen ask.
“You'll hear some question at the end of the year that you thought they knew the answer to,” Tursky said. “Something like, ‘Who's in our section?' ”
This winter will be one of those expect-the-unexpected seasons for Tursky and Kiski Area, which graduated five starters and will lean on a collection of youngsters to fill the holes. The Cavaliers, who went 16-3 and reached the Class AAA team tournament semifinals, hope the WPIAL's other perennial powers graduated no less talent, but they know a few programs, particularly Section 1-AAA subsection A rival Franklin Regional, appear better prepared for a title run at this time.
“We're a bunch of scrappy kids, so the future is very bright,” Tursky said. “This year here, we have to go out and wrestle big. We'll have to wrestle like we're older than we are.”
The departure of 145-pounder Cole Landowski, 152-pounder Kyle Skelly and 195-pounder Matt McCutcheon left Kiski Area with a notable absence of reliable bonus-point earners. The trio finished their senior seasons with a combined record of 97-15 and 49 pins cumulatively — McCutcheon, now wrestling at Penn State, was 37-2 with 24 pins.
Fortunately for the Cavaliers, a new senior trio seems ready to step up.
At the forefront is senior heavyweight Shane Kuhn, who won a WPIAL title and took third in the PIAA last season. He finished with 28 pins and a record of 42-1.
“It was kind of disappointing coming so close and coming up short,” said Kuhn, who took fourth in the PIAA as a sophomore. “It definitely motivates me. … I'm quicker on my feet. I'm not just going to try to muscle everyone this year.”
Ryan Hardaway and Jake Ardellitz complete Kiski Area's promising senior trio.
Hardaway went 26-7 with nine pins and seven technical falls as a 120-pounder last season. Stuck in a loaded WPIAL weight class that featured the state's first-, second- and third-place finisher, he fell short of a berth in the PIAA tournament.
Ardellitz, competing at 132 pounds, went 25-13 with nine pins last year. Like Hardaway, Ardellitz belonged to a star-studded WPIAL weight class and failed to reach the PIAA tournament.
Both Hardaway and Ardellitz welcome their increased responsibilities with Kiski Area and want to finish their careers in Hershey.
“I don't feel pressure as much as excitement,” Hardaway said. “I like the idea of the spotlight and wrestling in that big moment.”
Among Kiski Area's freshmen and sophomores, no wrestler is more poised to charge up WPIAL rankings than Tyler Worthing.
Worthing, a sophomore, went 31-11 with 17 pins at 170 pounds in his debut season. He needed just one more win at the WPIAL tournament to reach the third-place match.
Other underclassmen expected to bolster the starting lineup include freshmen Matt Siszka (106 pounds), Brad Nagy (113), Joey Blumer (120) and Vinny Romano (160), as well as sophomores Jake York (113), Alex Delp (170) and Chad Kuhn (220).
Plum's lineup contains arguably more promise than any in coach Mike Supak's previous six seasons in charge. The Mustangs graduated just two starters and return five WPIAL Class AAA individual qualifiers: seniors Eric Green and Stephen Turchick, juniors Nathan Turchick and Zach Martin, and sophomore Tommy Zummo.
“This is definitely the deepest team I've had,” said Supak, whose Mustangs went 2-3 in Section 3-AAA's subsection B.
A freshmen-laden starting lineup last season led to a season of struggle for Fox Chapel, which finished with a losing record (7-9) in dual meets for the first time in a dozen years, coach Ron Frank said. But all those freshmen returned a year wiser, and Frank expects the Foxes to rebound with authority.
Fox Chapel's promising sophomore class includes Tristin Houser (17-13 at 160 last season), Derrin Dietz (16-16 at 126), Andrew Kopco (11-14 at 106), Austin Pisano (11-15 at 120) and Darrius Booker (8-13 at 126).
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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