North Allegheny holds off Kiski Area, reaches wrestling semis
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Kiski Area and North Allegheny watched each other from afar twice this winter, as both attended the season-opening Eastern Area Invitational at Gateway and the Manheim Holiday Tournament.
The Cavaliers placed first in the team standings at Eastern Area, finishing 15 points ahead of second-place North Allegheny.
The Tigers grabbed the team title in Manheim, as they edged runner-up Kiski Area by 10 points.
All signs pointed to the possibility of a thriller when No. 5 seed Kiski Area and No. 4 North Allegheny met in the WPIAL Class AAA team tournament quarterfinals Wednesday, and the dual meet concluded with enough drama to satisfy both squads.
Able to win five of the final six contested weight classes, host North Allegheny (12-0) rallied to edge Kiski Area, 32-28. The Tigers advance to meet No. 1 seed Franklin Regional on Friday at Norwin.
“Kiski, they're a bunch of competitors who never stop,” North Allegheny coach Jamie Kyriazis said. “I wasn't excited about this matchup from the beginning because of that. It's always tight between us.
“Looking at it on paper, I thought if we would've taken some of those early bouts that could've went either way, we could've blown this thing wide open. But I knew certainly there was the possibility that we'd lose those, and we lost every one.”
A collection of freshmen fueled North Allegheny's comeback.
Kiski Area (15-3) led 19-3 when freshman 106-pounder Zack Stedeford walked onto the mat for a forfeit win that put a dent into North Allegheny's deficit.
Freshman 113-pounder Luke Landefeld brought the Tigers closer with an 18-3 technical fall.
After Kiski Area freshman 120-pounder Joey Blumer extended the Cavaliers' lead with an 8-6 overtime win, freshman 126-pounder Will Baierl kept the Tigers in range with a 4-3 decision.
A second-period pin by freshman 138-pounder Jake Hinkson and a 7-4 decision for freshman 145-pounder A.J. Boeh allowed North Allegheny to pull away enough that the Tigers simply forfeited the final bout.
Sandwiched among all the wins was a second-period pinfall by senior 132-pounder Dom Forys, who became the school's all-time leader in victories and also put North Allegheny ahead 23-22. Forys, who has a record 151 wins, passed 2007 grad Rob Waltko.
“I'm happy to hold the record, and I'm trying to set it as high as I can so no one else can beat it,” Forys said.
Before North Allegheny started its rally, Kiski Area prevailed in a series of key rematches.
A third meeting between Kiski Area's Dakota Lange and North Allegheny's Colton Byerly at 170 pounds helped the Cavaliers establish an early lead. Lange, who beat Byerly twice this season, picked up win No. 3, a 1-0 decision that gave Kiski Area a 7-0 lead through two bouts.
In their third encounter of the season, 195-pounders Tyler Worthing and Zach Smith added a new chapter to a previously tied series. Kiski Area's Worthing won 9-5 to claim his second straight match over Smith, who beat the Cavaliers sophomore 3-1 in overtime when they met in early December.
Kiski Area sophomore 220-pounder Chad Kuhn avenged a six-point loss to junior Layne Skundrich at the Manheim tournament by pulling off a 3-2 decision in which he scored the bout-deciding takedown with :57 left in the third period.
“We were definitely hyped and got a lot of momentum, but unfortunately then we fell short,” Kuhn said. “Most people say we don't match up well against them, and some people didn't even expect it to be that close, but I think we're just good.”
North Allegheny junior 182-pounder Clay Byerly was the lone Tiger to topple a familiar opponent, as he won his third straight over sophomore Alex Delp.
“We needed like everything to work out, and all those close matches needed to be in our favor — and they were starting to work out that way,” Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said. “We beat a couple guys that beat us earlier, but they got us on the flip side.”
Neither team endured much anxiety during their first-round matches.
The Cavaliers rolled to a 44-30 win over No. 12 Trinity. Pins from Joey Blumer (120), Garrett Fitzsimmons (145), Jake Ardellitz (152) and Shane Kuhn (285) as well as a 15-0 technical fall by Delp (182) gave Kiski Area a considerable edge in bonus-point wins. Michael Kolosky (113), Devin Kelley (138) and Robert West (195) secured pins for Trinity (5-4).
North Allegheny, meanwhile, claimed all but three bouts during their 45-15 win over Greensburg Salem (9-3). The Tigers' pins came from Scott Stossel (120), Forys (126) and Zach Smith (195), while Derek Berberick (220) and Grant Slezak (285) secured falls for Greensburg Salem.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
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