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Powerade favorite Franklin Regional enjoys strong showing

| Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, 10:15 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Joel Cawoski wrestles Collins Hill's Ryan Millhof in the 126-pound quarterfinal during Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, at Canon-McMillan High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Josh Shields wrestles Mifflin County's Noah Stewart in the 152-pound quarterfinal during Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 at Canon-McMillan High School.

Franklin Regional entered the Powerade Christmas wrestling tournament regarded by many as the team to beat, and the first-day results reinforced that perception.

With a tournament-high eight quarterfinalists, including former champs Josh Shields and Michael Kemerer, the Panthers had seven wrestlers advance to the semifinals and lead the team standings with 143 points after the first day of action Friday at Canon-McMillan.

Franklin Regional is bidding to become the first WPIAL team since Canon-McMillan in 2010 and only the second since 1999 to win the Powerade Tournament, which is regarded as one of the best high school tournaments in the country.

“This is a great tournament, and to get eight in the quarterfinals is awesome,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “It's nice because the guys are interested in the team score and what they can do to help push us above and beyond.”

Brandon Yant became the seventh and most unlikely of the Panthers' semifinalists after knocking off top-seeded Jake Henson of Pope (Ga.), 1-0, at 160 pounds. Yant scored a third-period escape for the only point of the match, and he was the only person to defeat a No. 1 seed.

Devin Brown (106 pounds) and Spencer Lee (113) recorded first-period pins in all three of their matches for Franklin Regional. Tyler Smith (132), Kemerer (138), Josh Maruca (145) and Josh Shields (152) all won by decision to move into the final four at their weight.

Wildcats advance four

If not for Franklin Regional's stellar day, Latrobe would have been the local team garnering attention after sending four wrestlers to the semifinals.

Defending champions Luke Pletcher and Zach Zavatsky moved on at 120 and 182 pounds, respectively.

Ethan McCoy (113) and Dom Scalise (160), two wrestlers who are back with the Wildcats program after previously wrestling at Kiski Prep, also advanced. McCoy knocked off the No. 2 seed in his weight class, Codi Russell of Collins Hill (Ga.), with a 13-6 decision to get the Wildcats' biggest win of the day.

“This was just a really pure day of wrestling for our kids, and we have 11 of 13 kids wrestling into the second day,” Latrobe coach Tad Harbert said. “McCoy made a great move right off the bat to go up 5-0, and that kind of settled the match.”

Latrobe is second in the team standings with 121 points.

Top locals move on

Nearly all of the WPIAL's top wrestlers advanced to the semifinals, including defending champ and top seed Jason Nolf of Kittanning (145).

No. 1 seed Dalton Macri (126) of Canon-McMillan won all three of his matches by technical fall. Hempfield's Sam Krivus (132) also advanced easily as a top seed.

The No. 2 seeds also were relatively safe. Chartiers Valley's Noah Wilps (170) and Central Catholic's Vincenzo Joseph (138) joined Pletcher and Smith as second seeds to move into the semifinals.

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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