Alle-Kiski Valley wrestling notes: Highlands' Wise hopes for title at county tournament
While most of his opponents had competed in more than a dozen matches by the time the Allegheny County Wrestling Championships arrived last January, Highlands' Nolan Wise entered the tournament as a junior with just five bouts under his belt for the season.
With a hearty schedule of dual meets back in place this winter for Highlands, Wise is no longer lacking in mat time compared to the opponents he'll face at the 2014 county championships, which begin at 10 a.m. Friday and continue Saturday at Fox Chapel.
Wise, who came in unseeded and placed seventh at 138 pounds last season, received the No. 3 spot in the 2014 tournament for his 9-2 record as a 145-pounder.
Teammate Cameron Johns, a junior, is seeded ninth at 106 pounds.
The tournament's championship bouts will begin just after 6 p.m. Saturday.
Another FC finalist?
As hosts of the Allegheny County tournament, Fox Chapel's wrestlers tend to face extra pressure to perform well.
The home crowd has pulled for at least one Fox in the finals during eight of the tournament's 12 years. Heavyweight Tyler Lever, a 2013 grad, took second a season ago.
Several Foxes stand a chance to reach the title bout this weekend, though all are considered underdogs to go that far.
Sophomore Andrew Kopco (11-3) is the No. 6 seed at 113 pounds. Junior Ian Moritz (11-1) is No. 6 at 132. Sophomore Darrius Booker (8-4) is No. 10 at 138. Senior Corey Mahon (12-3) is No. 7 at 152. And junior Rich Giovenetti (8-6) is No. 10 at 182.
Before each reached the finals of his respective weight class at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament last weekend, Kiski Area senior Ryan Hardaway and Burrell senior Steve Edwards hit the 100-win mark for their careers.
Hardaway, a 126-pounder, improved to 100-35 with a win by injury default over Kiski School senior Jack Pantenella in the first round Friday.
Edwards' 3-1 win over Latrobe's Jack Shaffer in the semifinals of the 152 bracket pushed his record to 100-34 on Saturday.
Earlier this season, Valley seniors Pat Dewitt and Terrell Fields joined the 100-win club. And Kittanning senior Jason Nolf and Kiski Area senior Shane Kuhn entered the season with more than 100.
Nolf, who is 23-0 this season, leads the Class of 2014 in wins with a career record of 155-1. He needs 28 more wins to pass the WPIAL's all-time leader, Shady Side Academy graduate and New Kensington native Dane Johnson, who finished with a record of 182-11.
Thinking of Tursky
At least one member of Kiski Area's team had coach Chuck Tursky on his mind as he stood atop the medal stand the WCCA tournament last Saturday.
“I wanted to win one for big coach,” sophomore Tyler Worthing, the tournament's 195-pound champion, said. “He's been out, banged up for the last couple weeks. I'm excited to get him back soon, and I hope I made him proud today.”
Tursky, who continues to recover from major surgery in mid-December, has missed five dual meets and two individual tournaments, including the WCCA event. Longtime assistant Chris Heater, the team's interim coach, hopes Tursky can return by the end of this month.
Burrell junior heavyweight Al Beattie left the WCCA tournament at Franklin Region disappointed because he lost for a fourth time in as many meetings to Kiski Area's Shane Kuhn.
Beattie's time at the tournament was far from fruitless, though.
To reach the title match, Beattie defeated Southmoreland sophomore Jacob Beistel, 2-1, in the rideout phase of overtime.
The Beattie-Beistel clash was a rematch of the 2013 WPIAL Class AA title bout, which Beattie won with a third-period pinfall.
There's a high likelihood that Beattie and Beistel will again enter the WPIAL individual tournament as the top contenders for the heavyweight crown. And thanks to his experience with Kuhn, the Burrell junior recognizes how a losing streak to one opponent can weigh on a wrestler.