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Possible finals matchups between champs highlight WCCA tournament

| Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, 10:45 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Hempfield's Sam Kriuvus, top, wrestles Franklin Regional's Tyler Smith in the 132-pound championship during the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013 at Canon-McMillan High School. Smith won 7-0.

When Nico Megaludis and Jimmy Gulibon squared off in the 125-pound finals of the Westmoreland County Coaches' Association wrestling tournament in 2011 at Franklin Regional, a large crowd was entertained by an epic battle between returning PIAA champions.

History could repeat itself Saturday in the 2014 WCCA tournament.

Megaludis and Gulibon, Penn State teammates, won't be making a special appearance to repeat that performance, which was won by Megaludis, 4-3, but there is a good chance two finals bouts could feature returning PIAA champions.

Latrobe sophomore Luke Pletcher, the returning 106-pound Class AAA champion, could meet Derry sophomore George Phillippi, the returning 113-pound Class AA champion, in the 120-pound final. Pletcher edged Phillippi, 3-2, in a December dual meet.

The 132-pound final could pit Hempfield junior Sam Krivus, the returning 120-pound Class AAA winner, against Franklin Regional senior Tyler Smith, the returning 132-pound Class AAA champ. Smith and Krivus met in the Powerade Tournament and Smith rolled to a 7-0 victory.

The tournament begins 5:30 p.m. Friday at Franklin Regional. The finals are 7 p.m. Saturday.

Hempfield wrestling coach Vince DeAugustine said Smith had the better match against Krivus.

“Until that point, Sam was having a great tournament,” DeAugustine said. “But against Tyler, he didn't set the pace. For him to get beat 7-0 and get dominated was a shocker.”

Smith's plans were changed early in the season when teammate Michael Kemerer challenged him at 138 pounds. Kemerer won, and Smith decided to drop to 132. Also expected to compete at 132 is Penn-Trafford freshman Cameron Coy, who lost to Krivus, 1-0, at the King of the Mountain Tournament.

Smith wasn't pleased with how Franklin Regional wrestled against Kiski Area on Jan. 3, especially after winning the Powerade Tournament.

“I thought we were ready to roll,” Smith said of the defending WCCA champion Panthers.

Pletcher and Phillippi also met in the Super 32 finals in late October with Pletcher pulling out a late win.

“Wrestling fans should be entertained again,” DeAugustine said. “Those two possible finals, along with Franklin Regional freshman Spencer Lee (113) and a strong 152-pound weight class, I still believe our county is the best for wrestling in the country. There should be a lot of great matches.”

Franklin Regional's Josh Maruca, Smith and Josh Shields; Latrobe's Zack Zavatsky; and Kiski Area's Shane Kuhn will attempt to become three-time champions this weekend, and Pletcher and Kemerer are looking for their second titles.

Hempfield's Ricky Cavallo, a two-time champion, will miss the tournament with an injury.

Lee, the No. 1 ranked freshman in the country at 113, could get a rematch against Latrobe's Ethan McCoy. The two met in the finals at the Powerade Tournament and Lee won 14-4.

Franklin Regional junior Devin Brown, who transferred from Saegertown, is a returning PIAA Class AA champion at 106. Nine other wrestlers entered who were PIAA placewinners.

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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