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Central Catholic enters Allegheny County tournament with different look

Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review - Central Catholic's Kyle Coniker high-fives a member of his team after beating Bishop McDevitt's Zane Black in the 170-pound quarterfinal during Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, at Canon-McMillan High School.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Steph Chambers  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Central Catholic's Kyle Coniker high-fives a member of his team after beating Bishop McDevitt's Zane Black in the 170-pound quarterfinal during Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, at Canon-McMillan High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review - Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer wrestles Central Catholic's Vincenzo Joseph in the 138-pound championship during the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, at Canon-McMillan. Kemerer won 3-2.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Steph Chambers  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer wrestles Central Catholic's Vincenzo Joseph in the 138-pound championship during the Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, at Canon-McMillan. Kemerer won 3-2.

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Brendan Price

Canon-McMillan, senior

Claim to fame: Price (26-3), who has 101 career wins, claimed the 113-pound title at the Tri-County Tournament on Saturday after 9-6 decision over Jefferson-Morgan's Brendan Howard. Earlier in the season, the Pitt recruit claimed third at the Powerade Christmas Tournament.

Why did you pick Pitt?

I decided on Pitt because I liked the coaches and kids on the team. I know (Canon-McMillan grad) Cody Wiercioch, who is a close friend of mine, that goes there now. It's a good school not just for wrestling but for academics. I'm going to major in physical therapy.

How does it feel to get your 100th career win?

It feels really good. I wanted to get it before our last home match so I can get an award before everyone.

Do you have to cut weight?

I'm naturally around 120. But once I get into the gym and get good food in me, I'm able to get down in weight.

What has been your most memorable moment so far?

It would have to be my win against (Central Dauphin's) Zach Elvin last year in the team state championship. I was the underdog going into the match. We weren't going to win unless I was able to pull off the win.

— Andrew John

Wrestling rankings

Class AAA

Rec. Pvs.

1. Franklin Regional 7-1 1

2. Latrobe 7-0 2

3. North Allegheny 7-0 3

4. Canon-McMillan 10-0 4

5. Kiski Area 11-1 5

6. Connellsville 11-3 6

7. Peters Township 7-1 7

8. Belle Vernon 8-2 8

9. Hempfield 3-1 9

10. Greensburg Salem 3-1 10

Class AA

1. South Fayette 2-0 1

2. Burrell 3-1 2

3. Jefferson-Morgan 9-3 3

4. Bentworth 2-1 4

5. Burgettstown 4-0 5

Class AAA individuals

106: 1. Devin Brown, Franklin Regional (10-0); 2. Alex Lynch, Seneca Valley (12-2); 3. Kris Distefanis, Hempfield, (14-6).

113: 1. Spencer Lee, Franklin Regional (22-0); 2. Gage Curry, North Hills (16-0); 3. Ethan McCoy, Latrobe (18-4).

120: 1. Luke Pletcher, Latrobe (20-0); 2. Scotty Stossel, North Allegheny (12-2); 3. Ricky Cavallo, Hempfield (7-3).

126: 1. Dalton Macri, Canon-McMillan (23-2); 2. A. C. Headlee, Waynesburg (23-3); 3. Dom Forys, North Allegheny (18-2).

132: 1. Tyler Smith, Franklin Regional (15-0); 2. Sam Krivus, Hempfield (16-2); 3. Cameron Coy, Penn-Trafford (21-3).

138: 1. Michael Kemerer, Franklin Regional (19-1); 2. Vincenzo Joseph, Central Catholic (17-3); 3. Joey Alessandro, Hempfield (16-3).

145: 1. Solomon Chishko, Canon-McMillan (10-3); 2. Josh Maruca, Franklin Regional (16-3); 3. Jarod Verkleeren, Belle Vernon (4-1).

152: 1. Josh Shields, Franklin Regional (16-3); 2. Jake Shaffer, Latrobe (18-5); 3. Derek Verkleeren, Belle Vernon (18-4).

160: 1. Brendan Burnham, Pine-Richland (11-0); 2. Dom Scalise, Latrobe (17-4); 3. Devin Austin, Penn-Trafford (19-6).

170: 1. Noah Wilps, Chartiers Valley (12-1); 2. Devin Fallenstein, Ringgold (19-1); 3. Kyle Coniker, Central Catholic (12-3).

182: 1. Zack Zavatsky, Latrobe (19-0); 2. Kellan Stout, Mt. Lebanon (15-2); 3. Elliot King, North Hills (16-1).

195: 1. Ty Worthing, Kiski Area (21-1); 2. Drew Phipps, Norwin (6-0); 3. Zach Smith, NA (16-5).

220: 1. Cole Macek, Montour (11-0); 2. Fred Mantsch, Hempfield (17-4); 3. Chad Kuhn, Kiski Area (23-3).

285: 1. Shane Kuhn, Kiski Area (22-1); 2. Zaynel Zaynullayev, Mt. Lebanon (13-3); 3. Benji Kane, Shaler (10-0).

Class AA individuals

106: 1. Dallas Bulsak, South Park (9-2); 2. Hunter Neely, Bentworth (10-2); 3. Cole Lambie, Southmoreland (16-6).

113: 1. Brendon Howard, Jefferson-Morgan (15-2); 2. Austin Griffiths, Southmoreland (15-2); 3. Jihad Ratliff, Valley (13-4).

120: 1. George Phillippi, Derry (20-4); 2. Austin McDermitt, Burgettstown (11-1); 3. Jake Rothka, Bentworth (12-6).

126: 1. Patrick DeWitt, Valley (16-0); 2. Anthony Marra, Burrell (12-6); 3. Stone Kepple, Derry (17-5).

132: 1. John Demaske, Jefferson-Morgan (17-0); 2. Mike Carr, South Fayette (11-0); 3. Shane Gentry, South Side Beaver (9-1).

138: 1. Jake Wentzel, South Park (16-0); 2. Jason Miller, Jefferson-Morgan (14-1); 3. Shane Ging, South Fayette (12-5).

145: 1. Jason Nolf, Kittanning (18-0); 2. Nick Gavazzi, Charleroi (6-0); 3. Corey Falleroni, Burrell (13-4).

152: 1. Steven Edwards, Burrell (13-3); 2. Greg Bulsak, South Park (14-1); 3. Nolan Wise, Highlands (9-2).

160: 1. Grant Fetchet, South Fayette (12-0); 2. Ryan Zalar, Jefferson-Morgan (14-1); 3. Pete Provenzano, Chartiers-Houston (11-4).

170: 1. Jared Walker, South Fayette (12-0); 2. Bill Bowlen, Jefferson-Morgan (18-3); 3. Nico Brown, Beth-Center (11-3).

182: 1. Fred McKissick, Carlynton (6-0); 2. Terrell Fields, Valley (11-1); 3. Dalton Wildman, West Greene (11-3).

195: 1. Marcus Davenport, Valley (14-3); 2. Zach Walker, South Fayette (11-1); 3. Jacob Robb, Kittanning (23-5).

220: 1. Jake Temple, Avella (8-0); 2. Josh Lind, Mt. Pleasant (15-8); 3. Tom Sever, Yough (13-4).

285: 1. Allan Beattie, Burrell (13-4); 2. Jake Beistel, Southmoreland (17-2); 3. Ian Wolfe, Jefferson-Morgan (18-4).

Pin leaders

17: Shane Kuhn, Kiski Area

15: Jason Nolf, Kittanning

14: A.C. Headlee, Waynesburg; Zach Mattucci, Greensburg Salem

13: Ryan Hardaway, Kiski Area; George Phillippi, Derry; Spencer Lee, Franklin Regional; Gage Curry, North Hills; Jake Ardellitz, Kiski Area; Mike Sinclair, Ellwood City

— Paul Schofield

Top high school sports
Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, 10:06 p.m.

One of the largest high school wrestling events in Pennsylvania could have a different look near the top this year.

Central Catholic coach Sunny Abe is hoping that won't be the case at the Allegheny County tournament, set for Friday and Saturday at Fox Chapel.

Much like last year, when Central Catholic finished third behind champion North Allegheny and runner-up Hampton, the tournament will consist of roughly 40 teams competing in around 600 bouts.

Unlike last year, Central Catholic will be without one of its two winners and two of its three second-place finishers.

Back are senior Kyle Coniker, last year's 152-pound winner, and senior Vincenzo Joseph, who lost to North Allegheny's Dom Forys in the 120-pound final. The Vikings will be without runner-ups Justin Alexander and Chris Nuss, who graduated.

The loss that really hurts, though, is that of senior Zach DeLuca, last year's 220-pound winner, who starred as a defensive end on the football field.

“Basically, he decided he's got to pursue his football career in college, so he called me and said he's not interested in competing in wrestling this year,” Abe said. “There's a possibility he may still come back.”

It's clear by Central Catholic's season so far, including losses to Fox Chapel, North Hills and Hampton in Class AAA Section 3-B dual meets, that it doesn't have the same veteran presence as last year.

“Everybody experiences that. Every year we lose somebody, but they get replaced by younger guys,” Abe said. “We are very fortunate to have the kids step up every year. Of course we miss those guys, but what are you gonna do? You've got to move forward.”

Coniker and Joseph are the only Central Catholic wrestlers who are seeded in the tournament.

Coniker is second in the 170-pound group behind Noah Wilps of Chartiers Valley, and Joseph is second in the 138-pound ladder behind South Park's Jake Wentzel.

Both seniors hope to prove themselves in new weight classes.

For the Vikings to stay among the elite teams in the county, they are going to need contributions from someone other than their two stars.

Along with junior Tony Palumbo (145 pounds), Abe is hoping that senior heavyweight Adisa Branch will be one of those guys.

Last year, Branch was knocked out in the first round of the tournament, but his coach expects a different result this time.

“I just don't think it's going to be any issue as far as pressure or anything like that,” Abe said. “He's just going to go out there and do his thing.”

Forys, the top seed at 126 pounds, is looking for his fourth Allegheny County title, while North Hills' Gage Curry (106 pounds), a sophomore, and senior Jonathan Avon (160), seeded third, also are returning champions.

North Hills' Michael Bonsmann (220 pounds) joins Curry as a top seed, and Greg Bulsak (152) joins Wentzel (138) for South Park. Mt. Lebanon has three No. 1 seeds — Kellan Stout (182), Bakhtiyar Zaynullaev (195) and Zeynul Zaynullayev (285).

Other top seeds include McKeesport's Kevin Statler (113), Shaler's Mike Heinl (120), South Fayette's Mike Carr (132), Plum's Eric Green (145) and Pine-Richland's Brendan Burnham (160).

Wrestling begins at 10 a.m. Friday. The finals are at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

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