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Latrobe breezes into semifinals

| Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 11:00 p.m.
Evan Sanders | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Jake Shaffer (right) works Peters Township's Salvatore Merante to the mat during the 152-pound match during the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, at Latrobe. Shaffer won by technical fall, 22-6.

Latrobe rolled into the WPIAL Class AAA team wrestling tournament semifinals with two easy victories Wednesday in the opening two rounds.

The Wildcats, seeded •No. 2 in the tournament and by Trib Total Media, defeated Connellsville, 47-18, in a first-round match. They decked Peters Township, 45-18, in the quarterfinals.

Peters Township advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating North Hills, 39-23.

Latrobe (14-1) will face No. 3 seed Canon-McMillan, the returning four-time WPIAL champion and two-time PIAA champion, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Norwin.

Connellsville, the only team to make the team tournament since it started in 1979, saw a 26-year streak end.

It's the first time since 1987 that the Falcons failed to advance past the first round.

Despite the victories, Latrobe coach Tad Harbert was not pleased with his team's performance against Connellsville.

“I let them know it, and after the match they had a team meeting,” Harbert said. “They knew I was ticked off. We wrestled a lot better against Peters Township.

“I wanted to see improvement from the first time we wrestled Connellsville. We let a couple matches slip away. It was a weird day because we didn't have school.”

Latrobe benefited from two forfeits and got pins from Carson Palmer (106 pounds), Joel Cawoski (126), Dom Scalise (160) and Tyler Mears (285) to put away the Falcons.

Connellsville received a pin by Matt Butler (195) and a 2-1 upset win by Tyler Kenney over Ethan McCoy at 113.

It was a different story in the nightcap. With Latrobe clinging to a 13-9 lead through the first six matches, the Wildcats poured it on in the upper weights.

A technical fall win by Jake Shaffer (152) and pins by Scalise, Zavatsky, Justin Short (195) and Logan Carns (220) turned the close match into a rout.

“It's tough to find weaknesses in their lineup,” Peters Township coach Jason Carpetta said. “We lost a couple overtime matches, but that's a very good team. They have a couple real studs in their lineup and the match got away from us with those pins.”

Peters Township had trimmed Latrobe's lead to 10-6 and was up in the 138-pound match.

But Latrobe's Jake Willochell rallied for an 8-6 victory over Italo Merante in overtime to stop the momentum.

“That was a big win for us,” Harbert said. “We knew Peters was tough in the lower and middle weights. We felt if we could keep it close, we could pour it on up top.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield-Trib.

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