Trib Cup: Peters Township wrestlers look to continue unbeaten run
The Peters Township wrestling team has a blue collar, hard-working mentality that has shown through its early season performances.
The Indians are 4-0 overall and 2-0 in Class AAA, Section 2-B as it heads into this weekend's Virginia Duals at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, Va. Peters Township won the Chartiers-Houston Tournament in early December and had a strong showing at the prestigious Powerade Tournament in late December.
Coach Jason Carpetta has grown accustomed to the early success and has attributed much of it to his wrestlers' ability to understand roles, follow leads and gain experience from an early age.
“We have a good group of kids here that has good leaders in its seniors and talented underclassmen that are ready to pitch in,” Carpetta said. “I think we've shown good representation in each grade because we've always wanted to take the rout of showing the freshmen early on what it's like to wrestle at the varsity level.”
The Indians are highlighted as this week's Trib Total Media/WPXI High School Sports Award feature team, and they are a primary reason why Peters Township is in third place in the Class AAAA standings.
The core of the Indians lineup comes at 126 pounds, 132 pounds and 138 pounds. Junior Phillip Marry (126) placed second in the section last year and fifth in the WPIAL and he anchors the trio of Tyler Buckiso (132) and Italo Merante (138).
The three underclassmen lead the way in the lighter classes with freshman Danny Florentino (106), sophomore A.J. Buckiso (113) and Michael Evanovich (120) showing signs of what the future of the Indians will hold.
Senior Sammy Florentino (145), junior Sal Merante (152), sophomore Michael McAleavey (160) and Matt Obershelp (170) form a solid middleweight group that has shown Carpetta a gritty side. In the heaviest weight classes, juniors Mitch Fitzgerald (182), Michael Ament (195), sophomore Alec Beleak (220) and Lukas Cervanak (285) have picked up several key wins in pressing situations during the season.
“This is a very gutsy team,” Carpetta said. “The sky truly can be the limit with them.
“I liked them from Day 1. I liked how hard they work and how well they mesh.”
Carpetta said he's not surprised by the team's unbeaten start. He said they generally start strong, but this season finishing may be a bit more difficult thanks to the restructured schedule due to recent weather issues.
“We've just basically been wrestling good as a group,” he said. “There's always someone to step up when someone has a down night.
“They're pretty smart. They know who has to win and who has the ability to minimize the damage.”
Minimizing damage will be key in the coming days. Besides competing in the Virginia Duals this weekend, the Indians will return to Pittsburgh Monday just in time to wrestle on back-to-back-to-back nights in three crucial matches that could determine their fate in the section.
It starts Monday and Tuesday when they are home against West Mifflin (0-2, 0-2) and Bethel Park (1-1, 1-1). Wednesday, the Indians will wrestle at Upper St. Clair (2-1, 2-1).
“I'm looking for the seniors to show leadership and really carry us through this upcoming stretch,” Carpetta said. “We're not going to let up and we're going to treat each match the same.
“It's going to come down to who wants it more, and that's what's going to count after this stretch.”
Tuesday's match against Bethel Park will carry a special feel. The match will be Peters Township's second annual “Match for a Marine” event to honor Doug Vitale. Vitale is a former Kiski Area wrestler who was injured in Afghanistan.
Brian Graham is a freelance writer.