Highlands' Kendric Moore battles asthma trouble during 2-1 day at Allegheny Tournament
The scene and sensation at the end of Kendric Moore's final match Friday at the Allegheny County Wrestling Championships struck the Highlands senior 120-pounder as all too familiar.
Moore picked himself up off the mat after an 18-6 loss in the quarterfinals and put his hands to his chest in search of a solution for his breathing trouble.
He knew nothing, not even his inhaler, would completely ease the pain in his lungs.
This was the wretched routine Moore, a seventh-place finisher at 120 pounds in the county as a sophomore, wanted to avoid this season. Asthma forced him to miss almost his entire junior season. And the medical condition reminded him of its unrelenting nature during the county tournament's first day, which Moore managed to get through with a 2-1 record.
Moore will start his Saturday morning in the consolation bracket, where he'll need one more win to guarantee himself a top-eight finish in the 120-pound weight class.
“I'm a lot more rusty than I would have hoped,” said Moore, who is 8-4 this season. “I used to wrestle with a real quick pace; we actually practiced with Valley last year, and I practiced with Patrick Dewitt and Josiah Hughes. I could hold my own against them, and they both went to states that (season).”
First-year Highlands coach Grant Walters advised Moore to adjust his style by easing off the intensity early and pacing himself for a third-period push. Moore, though skeptical and uncomfortable with the idea at first, has slowly embraced it.
“It's going to need tweaking as I go along,” he said. “You get these kids that are good, and in the first period, you can't just sit there. You have to be able to stop their shots. So if they get in there, I'm going to be using a lot of energy. I just have to keep working on it.”
Moore's asthma almost doomed him in the opening round. Leading No. 6 seed Patrick Keyser of Hampton late in the second period, Moore ended up on his back and in a headlock. Keyser cut his deficit to 6-5 before an illegal hold allowed Moore to call for injury time and use his inhaler.
His breathing somewhat stabilized, Moore went out for the third period, escaped, and scored a takedown within seconds. He held on to win 9-5.
His quarterfinal demanded less endurance, as he pinned South Fayette's Kevin Chaussard with :32 left in the first period.
Moore aspires to make it back to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament, which he qualified for as a sophomore. He wants his senior season to end in Hershey. He hopes his parents, who worry about his breathing and don't want him to end up in the hospital for the second time in as many seasons, will give him the chance, even if his asthma acts up from time to time.
“I just want to figure out what do I need to do so that I can go to the third period,” Moore said. “I'm leaving it up to (Walters), and he's analyzing.”
Highlands has just Moore and senior 145-pounder Nolan Wise to worry about Saturday — both are in the consolation bracket.
Plum and Fox Chapel will be much busier.
The Mustangs, who sit in second place in the team standings with 103 points, have five semifinalists and six wrestlers still in contention for third.
Among the Plum semifinalists are brothers Nate and Steve Turchick. The latter, a senior heavyweight, pinned two opponents Friday, while the former, a junior 195-pounder, had one fall.
“We have a competition going right now with whom has more pins,” said Nate Turchick, who has 13 pins. “For a while, I had the lead because he was getting forfeits. But I think he just tied it up with that one (in the quarterfinals).”
Fox Chapel no longer has a wrestler in the running for a championship, but it has 10 team members alive in consolation brackets. Andrew Kopco (113 pounds), Ian Moritz (132), Cory Mahon (152), Tristan Houser (160) and Rich Giovenetti (182) each made the quarterfinals before taking their first loss.
Senior 220-pounder Bill Novakovic remains alive in the consolation bracket for Riverview.