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Wrestlers who limit severity of losses help WPIAL team title hopefuls

Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review - Franklin Regional's Tyler Smith (top) takes Kiski Area's Vaughn Curcio to the mat during their 132 pound bout during a dual meet earlier this month. Smith won by a 23-8 technical fall, but Vaughn saved his team a point in the overall match by not getting pinned (five, compared to six).
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Barry Reeger  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Franklin Regional's Tyler Smith (top) takes Kiski Area's Vaughn Curcio to the mat during their 132 pound bout during a dual meet earlier this month. Smith won by a 23-8 technical fall, but Vaughn saved his team a point in the overall match by not getting pinned (five, compared to six).
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<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Submitted</em></div>

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Jake Robb

Kittanning, Sophomore

Claim to fame: Robb (28-5) recorded his best finish this year at the Eastern Area tournament, taking third in the 195-pound weight class after a 17-0 technical fall over Belle Vernon's Billy Korber. Robb, who was 27-10 last season, finished fourth at the King of the Mountain and Powerade Christmas tournaments.

“This year, I have done really good,” Robb said. “I worked hard this summer and this season. It's all paying off.”

What have you been working on this year to improve?

I have been working on my feet. It's my weakest area, and I'm trying to stay in good shape and continuing to work hard.

As a team, you finished as runner-up in the section. What are you taking from that experience?

I think, this year, we have worked harder than the past. It feels good to have a winning team.

Whom do you look forward to facing?

I'd like to wrestle anybody ranked ahead or near me. I want to wrestle all the toughest opponents I can.

How did you start wrestling?

I started in second or third grade. My dad was a coach, and I tried it out and stuck with it.

What lessons do you learn from wrestling?

I think wrestling teaches you how to work hard and is good motivation. It teaches you not to quit.

— Andrew John

Wrestling rankings

Class AAA

Rec. Pvs.

1. Franklin Regional 15-1 1

2. Latrobe 9-1 2

3. North Allegheny 10-0 3

4. Canon-McMillan 14-0 4

5. Kiski Area 14-2 5

6. Belle Vernon 15-2 7

7. Peters Township 11-2 6

8. Hempfield 8-4 8

9. Greensburg Salem 9-2 910. Mt. Lebanon 10-5 NR

Class AA

1. South Fayette 17-0 1

2. Burrell 9-3 2

3. Jefferson-Morgan 12-2 3

4. Burgettstown 12-1 5

5. Derry 11-2 NR

Class AAA individuals

106: 1. Devin Brown, Franklin Regional (16-0); 2. Gage Curry, North Hills (26-0); 3. Kris Distefanis, Hempfield, (15-6).

113: 1. Spencer Lee, Franklin Regional (28-0); 2. Chris Eddins, Greensburg Salem (23-6); 3. Ethan McCoy, Latrobe (19-6).

120: 1. Luke Pletcher, Latrobe (24-0); 2. Brendan Hasson, Belle Vernon (27-6); 3. Ricky Cavallo, Hempfield (8-3).

126: 1. Dalton Macri, Canon-McMillan (26-2); 2. A.C. Headlee, Waynesburg (29-3); 3. Dom Forys, North Allegheny (21-2).

132: 1. Tyler Smith, Franklin Regional (18-0); 2. Sam Krivus, Hempfield (18-2); 3. Cameron Coy, Penn-Trafford (22-4).

138: 1. Michael Kemerer, Franklin Regional (24-1); 2. Vincenzo Joseph, Central Catholic (28-3); 3. Joey Alessandro, Hempfield (18-4).

145: 1. Solomon Chishko, Canon-McMillan (12-3); 2. Josh Maruca, Franklin Regional (21-3); 3. Jarod Verkleeren, Belle Vernon (12-2).

152: 1. Josh Shields, Franklin Regional (21-4); 2. Jake Shaffer, Latrobe (21-6); 3. Derek Verkleeren, Belle Vernon (25-5).

160: 1. Dom Scalise, Latrobe (20-4); 2. Austin Bell, Belle Vernon (30-5); 3. Devin Austin, Penn-Trafford (20-6).

170: 1. Noah Wilps, Chartiers Valley (18-1); 2. Devin Fallenstein, Ringgold (20-1); 3. Kyle Coniker, Central Catholic (19-3).

182: 1. Zack Zavatsky, Latrobe (22-0); 2. Kellan Stout, Mt. Lebanon (23-2); 3. Tommy Provance, Connellsville, (14-4).

195: 1. Ty Worthing, Kiski (23-1); 2. Drew Phipps, Norwin (6-0); 3. Cole Macek, Montour (20-0).

220: 1. Fred Mantsch, Hempfield (19-5); 2. Lynn Skundrich, North Allegheny (11-2); 3. Chad Kuhn, Kiski Area (25-4).

285: 1. Shane Kuhn, Kiski Area (26-1); 2. Zaynul Zaynullayev, Mt. Lebanon (24-3); 3. Benji Kane, Shaler (10-0).

Class AA individuals

106: 1. Dallas Bulsak, South Park (15-4); 2. Hunter Neely, Bentworth (22-3); 3. Cole Lambie, Southmoreland (19-6).

113: 1. Brendon Howard, Jefferson-Morgan (24-4); 2. Austin Griffiths, Southmoreland (19-2); 3. Austin McDermitt, Burgettstown (28-2).

120: 1. George Phillippi, Derry (22-4); 2. Kody Komara, Freedom (21-5); 3. Josh Kuslock, Chartiers-Houston (22-5).

126: 1. Patrick DeWitt, Valley (27-0); 2. Stone Kepple, Derry (21-5); 3. Mike Novak, Mt. Pleasant (10-5).

132: 1. John Demaske. Jefferson-Morgan (26-0); 2. Mike Carr, South Fayette (25-0); 3. Shane Gentry, South Side Beaver (9-1).

138: 1. Jake Wentzel, South Park (22-1); 2. Jason Miller, Jefferson-Morgan (17-1); 3. Shane Ging, South Fayette (23-9).

145: 1. Jason Nolf, Kittanning (28-0); 2. Nick Gavazzi, Charleroi (7-0); 3. Corey Falleroni, Burrell (15-4).

152: 1. Steven Edwards, Burrell (15-3); 2. Grant Fetchet, South Fayette (25-2); 3. Greg Bulsak, South Park (22-1).

160: 1. Jared Walker, South Fayette (26-1); 2. Ryan Zalar, Jefferson-Morgan (21-4); 3. Pete Provenzano, Chartiers-Houston (19-8).

170: 1. Bill Bowlen, Jefferson-Morgan (27-3); 2. Nick Pattock, Burrell (12-7); 3. Nico Brown, Beth-Center (17-8).

182: 1. Terrell Fields, Valley (22-1); 2. Dalton Wildman, West Greene (15-3); 3. Rausaun Culberson, South Fayette (16-9).

195: 1. Marcus Davenport, Valley (22-3); 2. Zach Walker, South Fayette (12-1); 3. Jacob Robb, Kittanning (28-5).

220: 1. Jake Temple, Avella (18-0); 2. Josh Lind, Mt. Pleasant (22-9); 3. Tom Sever, Yough (17-4).

285: 1. Allan Beattie, Burrell (14-4); 2. Jake Beistel, Southmoreland (19-2); 3. Ian Wolfe, Jefferson-Morgan (21-6).

Pin Leaders

21: Shane Kuhn, Kiski Area.

20: Gage Curry, North Hills.

19: Robert West, Trinity.

18: Mike Sinclair, Ellwood City; Terrell Fields, Valley.

17: Jason Nolf, Kittanning; Shane Ging, South Fayette; Colin McCracken, Waynesburg.

— Paul Schofield

Top high school sports
Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, 10:39 p.m.

When longtime Kiski Area wrestling coach Chuck Tursky revisits memories of the 2003 team that won the WPIAL Class AAA title and reached the PIAA finals, he recalls the pinning and scoring prowess of the Cavaliers' stars — individual WPIAL placewinners such as 215-pounder Scott McKillop, heavyweight Branden Rupert, 171-pounder Mike Corcetti and 145-pounder Steve Stedrak.

But Tursky also thinks of the unheralded Cavaliers who, though not particularly reliable for pins or wins, excelled at minimizing the severity of their losses.

For programs with WPIAL and PIAA dual meet title aspirations, wrestlers who slow down bouts and stifle their opponents' abilities to pin or even score takedowns are almost as essential as grapplers who dominate.

Burrell, Kiski Area, Kittanning and Valley each have WPIAL team tournament first-round matches Wednesday — Kiski Area (14-2) is the No. 5 seed in Class AAA, while Burrell (8-3), Kittanning (7-7) and Valley (9-10) are No. 1, No. 6, and No. 14, respectively, in Class AA. All four teams want pins from their proven stars, and they'll ask grapplers in unfavorable matchups to minimize bonus-point chances for opponents.

“When you're being dominated, sometimes you have to resort to still battling but not going to your back,” Tursky said. “It's part of the game.”

Referees determine whether a wrestler is stalling. The National Federation of State High School Association's rulebook states that “each wrestler is required to make an honest attempt to stay within the 10-foot circle and wrestle aggressively, regardless of the position or the time or the score of the match.”

Strategically, even after wrestlers are warned for stalling, they're generally better off giving up penalty points that lead to major decisions or technical falls (worth four and five team points, respectively) than surrendering pins (worth six team points).

“If you are outmatched and you save your team a point, I'm not going to turn a blind eye to that — I'm going to praise you for not getting pinned,” Tursky said.

Junior 132-pounder Vaughn Curcio and freshman 160-pounder Vinny Romano are two Cavaliers who've successfully limited the cost of their losses this season.

Curcio, who is 16-11, has not allowed a pin, and he has secured six. Romano, who is 15-12, has not allowed a pin or a technical fall, and he has 10 pins. Kiski Area has 134 pins and has allowed just 24.

Valley coach Steve Ansani believes the ability to avoid pins stems from the combination of a little technical know-how and a lot of stubbornness.

“There are kids who are just tough enough to not get pinned; they refuse to get pinned,” Ansani said. “To me, getting pinned is the worst thing that can happen. It means total domination. I don't really tell my kids to stall. I tell them to stay off their back.”

Valley freshman 138-pounder Chris O'Sullivan is working through his inexperience without costing his team dearly on the scoreboard. O'Sullivan, who is 8-14, has allowed one pin and zero technical falls, and he has six pins.

Quite often, wrestlers find the will to resist pins or fight off opponents' shots when they hear the roar of their teammates from the bench area. A peer-pressure dynamic has been key for Burrell, the seven-time defending WPIAL Class AA team champion.

“We always say, ‘Don't let go of the rope,' ” Bucs coach Josh Shields said. “We treat this like a family, and you wouldn't want to let your brothers down. … They have to do the most they possibly can for this team. We tell them they have to make every point a fight.”

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