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No. 1 Franklin Regional wrestling team wins Section 1-AAA tournament

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 10:21 p.m.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer (right) works to pin Latrobe's Jake Willochell in the 138-pound match during the Section 1 finals held at Greater Latrobe on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.

Franklin Regional (10-1) easily won the Section 1-AAA team section tournament Wednesday by defeating Hempfield, 64-9, in the semifinals and Latrobe, 46-28, in the finals. The Panthers dominated both matches.

Third place went to Kiski Area, which defeated Hempfield, 55-20. Latrobe reached the finals with a 48-18 pounding of Kiski Area.

“This team is hungry,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “They were disappointed when they lost to Canon-McMillan in the 2013 WPIAL Class AAA finals. After finishing third in the PIAA tournament, they got a taste of what it takes to win. We've set some high goals, both team and individually. We want to be state champions.”

Before the Panthers can book a trip for Hershey, they must maneuver their way through the WPIAL tournament, which begins Monday with preliminary-round matches.

Franklin Regional, which is ranked No. 1 by the Trib Total Media, should get the top seed and have a home match either Tuesday or Wednesday.

Against No. 2 Latrobe, the Panthers won nine of the first 10 bouts and raced to a 46-5 lead. Devin Brown (106 pounds) had a first-period pin, and freshman Spencer Lee (113) defeated Ethan McCoy, 19-4, for a quick 11-0 lead. Lee had to hold on to defeat McCoy in the Westmoreland County Coaches Association finals Jan. 11.

After Luke Pletcher picked up a 25-10 win for Latrobe, the Panthers won the next seven. Tyler Smith (132) won by technical fall. Michael Kemerer (138), Josh Maruca (145), Brandon Yant (160) and Nate Painter (170) each posted falls.

“This is a brutal section,” Latrobe coach Tad Harbert said. “We counted the lights too many times against them.”

Harbert said he was pleased with the way his team performed against Kiski Area. After giving up a pin to Cavaliers heavyweight Shane Kuhn to start the match, Latrobe picked up two forfeits and a pin by McCoy for an 18-6 lead.

After No. 5 Kiski Area cut the lead to 18-12, Latrobe won the next six bouts.

Among those wins was a pin by Zack Zavatsky (182), who became the school's all-time win leader with 145; and major decisions by Jake Willochell (138), Jake Shaffer (152) and Dom Scalise (160). Logan Carns (220) also had a pin for Latrobe.

“Our goal is to meet them again next week,” Harbert said. “Hopefully the WPIAL will give us a good seed.”

Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky was back on the bench for the Cavaliers. Tursky had missed the past month while recovering from an illness.

Tursky's assistant, Chris Heater, who has been running the team in Tursky's absence, said: “After losing to Latrobe, placing third was a must. Not having our 106-pounder hurt. It was a 12-point swing.”

Kiski Area's regular 106-pounder, Matt Siszka, missed the tournament with an injury.

Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said he knew coming out with wins would be tough. He was more concerned with the health of wrestlers Ricky Cavallo and Fred Mantsch. Both had to injury default against Kiski Area.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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