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Panthers use bonus points in key bouts to seal win over rival Kiski Area

| Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 10:48 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Devin Brown (left) reacts after pinning Kiski Area's Matt Siszka at 3 minutes, 44 seconds of their 106-pound bout during a match Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, at Franklin Regional.

You would think the Franklin Regional wrestling team would be happy with an easy win over WPIAL Class AAA, Section 1-A rival Kiski Area.

They weren't.

No. 1 Franklin Regional defeated No. 5 Kiski Area, 38-24, Friday in a match that the Panthers clinched with four bouts left.

Franklin Regional (6-1, 3-0) and Kiski Area (10-1, 2-1) each won seven bouts, but those the Panthers won came with bonus points.

The Panthers got pins by Devin Brown (106), Spencer Lee (113) and Michael Kemerer (138) and a win by injury default for John Maruca (145), all resulting in six team points; technical fall wins by Tyler Smith (132) and Josh Shields (152) worth five team points each; and a major decision by Brandon Yant (160) for four points.

Kiski Area got a pin by heavyweight Chad Kuhn in the first bout of the night and six regular decisions, worth three points each.

“It was nice to get the win, but we're not happy with that,” Smith said. “To be honest with you, I thought we'd win by 20 or 30 points.

“I thought we were going to hit our stride after winning Powerade. We didn't wrestle well, and we have to get back to work. We're not happy with our performance.”

But when you have four or five wrestlers ranked No. 1 in the state, opponents need to be just as talented.

After Smith posted a 23-8 technical fall win over Vaughn Curcio at 132, he got up and pointed to the Franklin Regional student section.

“I told them if they showed up for this big match, I'd do something to acknowledge them,” said Smith, who got frustrated at times with Curcio. “When you wrestle Kiski, you know some of their wrestlers are going to stall. I had to change my attack.”

Panthers coach Eric Mausser said he wasn't as disappointed.

“We know we're going to win a lot of matches because of the bonus points we get,” Mausser said. “We got more bonus points, but we'll have to win some of those close matches down the line. It wasn't our greatest match, but Kiski is tough.”

Kiski grabbed a 6-0 lead on a pin by Shane Kuhn (285). But Franklin Regional countered with pins by Brown (106) and Lee (113) for a 12-6 lead.

The Cavaliers tied the score 12-12 with wins by Joey Blumer (120) and Ryan Hardaway (126). Blumer edged Gus Solomon, 5-3, in overtime, and Hardaway held off Kyle Berk, 9-8.

Franklin Regional then won the next five bouts to clinch the win.

“It is a snowball effect when they get started,” Mausser said about his lower and middle weights. “It helps build our momentum up in those situations.”

“We knew we had our hands full,” said Kiski Area coach Chris Heater, who is acting as head coach while Chuck Tursky recovers from surgery. “A lot of teams are going to have a tough time stopping them from getting bonus points.

“They have a talented team and we're extremely young. I thought our guys well, but I think we still have more to give. We're built on scrapping and wrestling tough.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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