Kiski Area braces for loaded Section 1-AAA team tournament
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Often with a grimace, Kiski Area wrestling coach Chris Heater admits this season's Section 1-AAA team tournament is a gauntlet.
Whether his Cavaliers will come out of Wednesday's tournament at Latrobe better off is, at least in Heater's mind, a bit of an uncertainty.
No matter their finish in the four-team event, the Cavaliers will qualify for the WPIAL Class AAA team tournament, which begins Monday. Their place in the section competition will influence their WPIAL seeding. Unfortunately for Kiski Area, the strength of Section 1's top four teams — Kiski Area, Franklin Regional, Latrobe, Hempfield — is unrivaled in Western Pennsylvania, so few bouts will allow the Cavaliers' coaches to breathe easy.
“You are going to come out of this battle-tested, and you are going to come out of this with matches that maybe some other teams from some of the other sections might not see until the quarter- or semifinals,” Heater said. “That's what we get right out of the gate. And it's good to be battle-tested, but you can get beat up in the process, too, and then the next week, you're maybe not in shape to go against somebody you should beat.”
Franklin Regional, which will wrestle Hempfield in one of the two semifinal-round dual meets, enters the Section 1 team tournament as a heavy favorite. The Panthers (8-1, 5-0), whose only loss came against national prep school powerhouse Wyoming Seminary, are ranked No. 9 nationwide by Intermat Wrestling and No. 8 by Flowrestling. They placed first in the team standings at the celebrated Powerade Christmas Tournament in December and cruised to another team championship at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament.
Kiski Area (13-1, 4-1) finished second behind Franklin Regional in Section 1-AAA subdivision A, as the Panthers beat the Cavaliers, 38-24, earlier this month. Latrobe (8-0, 5-0) took first in subdivision B, and Hempfield (4-1, 4-1) placed second.
The section tournament's semifinal matches begin at 6 p.m. The winners will wrestle for the title at 7:30 p.m., while the losers will determine who takes third.
How Latrobe and Kiski Area match up has been a topic of speculation for several weeks among Westmoreland County wrestling fans. Their performances at the WCCA tournament, though based on individual achievements rather than dual meet-style clashes, suggested their match Wednesday might go down to the wire: Kiski Area took second in the tournament with 187 points, and Latrobe placed third with 186.5.
Hempfield grabbed fifth in the WCCA event with 129.5 points.
“It's a different scenario in a tournament, but you do kind of get a gauge and see what their kids like to do,” Heater said. “You get an idea of who you'd like to get against them, which is the same thing they're trying to do against us.”
Collectively, the four teams possess a who's who of PIAA standouts. Franklin Regional features five returning state placewinners, including two champions, as well as freshman phenom 113-pounder Spencer Lee, who is regarded as the best wrestler in the country at his weight class. Latrobe's lineup includes returning state champ Luke Pletcher, now a 120-pounder, and Zack Zavatsky, a 182-pounder who placed third in the PIAA at 160 last season. Hempfield has returning state champ Sam Krivus, who won a title at 120 and now competes at 132. And heavyweight Shane Kuhn, who placed third in the PIAA last season, leads the way for Kiski Area.
After almost a month away from the team, coach Chuck Tursky has returned to lead the Cavaliers. Tursky, who underwent surgery in mid-December, trusted Heater, a longtime assistant, with control of the program while he recovered from his procedure.
“I'm loving life,” Tursky said. “I'm just glad to be back, and I'm feeling better — recovering every day and just enjoying everything I do.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.