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WPIAL champion Franklin Regional sets sights on 1st PIAA crown

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J.J. Walker

South fAyette, Junior

Claim to fame: Walker (29-1), who helped South Fayette to a second-place finish at the WPIAL Class AA team championships Saturday, finished first in the 160-pound weight class earlier this month at the Bedford Tournament. Walker finished third at the Allegheny County tournament last month.

“I think I'm doing pretty well, and we are doing pretty well as a team,” Walker said.

How were you able to get yourself into wrestling shape after the football season?

Luckily, it was over Christmas break, which gave me time to get to practices as well as lifting and running. I ran on my free time. Running helps a lot.

How much does that loss to Burrell sting since it was a close match?

It stings a lot more than last year's match. This match we should have won. They are a great team. Most matches come down to a win or extra bonus points here or there. It was a really close match, and if a couple things go differently, we are WPIAL champs.

How are you getting yourself prepared for the remainder of the season?

I'm going to make sure I'm healthy and rested. I'm going to get my practices and lifting in. I want to make sure I'm at my peak and ready to go.

— Andrew John

Wrestling rankings

Class AAA

Rec. Pvs.

1. Franklin Regional 19-1 1

2. Latrobe 12-2 2

3. North Allegheny 13-1 3

4. Canon-McMillan 16-2 4

5. Kiski Area 15-3 5

6. Belle Vernon 16-3 6

7. Peters Township 12-3 7

8. Hempfield 9-5 8

9. Greensburg Salem 10-3 9

10. Connellsville 16-7 10

Class AA

1. Burrell 12-3 2

2. South Fayette 20-1 1

3. Jefferson-Morgan 15-3 3

4. Burgettstown 14-3 45. Ellwood City 10-5 NRClass AAA individuals

106: 1. Devin Brown, Franklin Regional (21-0); 2. Gage Curry, North Hills (27-0); 3. Kris Distefanis, Hempfield, (17-7).

113: 1. Spencer Lee, Franklin Regional (33-0); 2. Luke Landefeld, North Allegheny (22-7); 3. Chris Eddins, Greensburg Salem (23-7).

120: 1. Luke Pletcher, Latrobe (27-0); 2. Brendan Hasson, Belle Vernon (30-6); 3. Ricky Cavallo, Hempfield (8-4).

126: 1. Dalton Macri, Canon-McMillan (29-2); 2. A.C. Headlee, Waynesburg (29-3); 3. Dom Forys, North Allegheny (31-3).

132: 1. Tyler Smith, Franklin Regional (23-0); 2. Sam Krivus, Hempfield (21-2); 3. Cameron Coy, Penn-Trafford (22-4).

138: 1. Michael Kemerer, Franklin Regional (29-1); 2. Vincenzo Joseph, Central Catholic (29-3); 3. Joey Alessandro, Hempfield (20-4).

145: 1. Solomon Chishko, Canon-McMillan (15-3); 2. Josh Maruca, Franklin Regional (26-3); 3. Corey Wilding, Upper St. Clair (23-2).

152: 1. Josh Shields, Franklin Regional (26-3); 2. Jake Shaffer, Latrobe (24-7); 3. Derek Verkleeren, Belle Vernon (26-6).

160: 1. Dom Scalise, Latrobe (23-4); 2. Austin Bell, Belle Vernon (32-5); 3. Jonathan Avon, North Hills (26-2).

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 (26-0); 2. Kellan Stout, Mt. Lebanon (24-2); 3. Tommy Provance, Connellsville (13-5).

195: 1. Ty Worthing, Kiski (24-1); 2. Drew Phipps, Norwin (6-0); 3. Cole Macek, Montour (21-0).

220: 1. Fred Mantsch, Hempfield (19-5); 2. Chad Kuhn, Kiski Area (27-4); 3. Layne Skundrich, North Allegheny (17-3).

285: 1. Shane Kuhn, Kiski Area (28-1); 2. Zaynul Zaynullayev, Mt. Lebanon (24-3); 3. Tyler Mears, Latrobe (8-4).

Class AA individuals

106: 1. Dallas Bulsak, South Park (15-4); 2. Hunter Neely, Bentworth (23-3); 3. Cole Lambie, Southmoreland (20-6).

113: 1. Brendon Howard, Jefferson-Morgan (27-4); 2. Austin Griffiths, Southmoreland (19-2); 3. Austin McDermitt, Burgettstown (31-2).

120: 1. George Phillippi, Derry (23-4); 2. Kody Komara, Freedom (23-5); 3. Josh Kuslock, Chartiers-Houston (23-6).

126: 1. Patrick DeWitt, Valley (30-0); 2. John Demaske, Jefferson-Morgan (27-0); 3. Anthony Marra, Burrell (18-10).

132: 1. Mike Carr, South Fayette (28-0); 2. Shane Gentry, South Side Beaver (9-1); 3. Teddy Charletta, Yough (15-5).

138: 1. Jake Wentzel, South Park (22-1); 2. Jason Miller, Jefferson-Morgan (17-1); 3. Shane Ging, South Fayette (25-10).

145: 1. Jason Nolf, Kittanning (29-0); 2. Nick Gavazzi, Charleroi (7-0); 3. Corey Falleroni, Burrell (24-8).

152: 1. Greg Bulsak, South Park (22-1); 2. Steven Edwards, Burrell (27-4); 3. Grant Fetchet, South Fayette (28-2).

160: 1. Jared Walker, South Fayette (29-1); 2. Ryan Zalar, Jefferson-Morgan (23-5); 3. Pete Provenzano, Chartiers-Houston (21-8).

170: 1. Bill Bowlen, Jefferson-Morgan (30-3); 2. Nick Pattock, Burrell (22-12); 3. Dalton Rosa, Laurel (15-0).

182: 1. Terrell Fields, Valley (25-1); 2. Dalton Wildman, West Greene (18-3); 3. Brendon Glover, West Shamokin (16-2).

195: 1. Jacob Robb, Kittanning (29-5); 2. Marcus Davenport, Valley (24-3); 3. Zach Walker, South Fayette (13-1).

220: 1. Jake Temple, Avella (21-0); 2. Josh Lind, Mt. Pleasant (23-9); 3. Tom Sever, Yough (19-5).

285: 1. Allan Beattie, (25-5); 2. Jake Beistel, Southmoreland (20-2); 3. Ian Wolfe, Jefferson-Morgan (23-6).

Pin Leaders

22: Shane Kuhn, Kiski Area; Robert West, Trinity.

21: Gage Curry, North Hills.

20: Mike Sinclair, Ellwood City.

19: Spencer Lee, Franklin Regional.

18: Terrell Fields, Valley; Shane Ging, South Fayette; Grant Fetchet, South Fayette.

— Paul Schofield

Top high school sports
Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, 9:39 p.m.

After running through the WPIAL with relative ease, the Franklin Regional wrestling team will try to dominate the state this weekend in Hershey.

The Panthers (19-1) haven't lost a match since falling to Wyoming Seminary, a prep school in eastern Pennsylvania, on the opening weekend of the season. Franklin Regional wasn't a full strength for the match.

Franklin Regional did score higher than Wyoming Seminary at the Ironman Tournament on Dec. 13-14.

“We're just focused on our first match,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “We're wrestling well. Hopefully, we can stay healthy and get through it.”

It won't be easy for the Panthers, who are in search of their first state title. District 1 champion Boyertown (22-0) is undefeated, District 3 champion Cumberland Valley and runner-up Central Dauphin have solid teams, and District 11 champion Nazareth and runner-up Parkland are always tough.

Then there is Latrobe (12-2) and North Allegheny (15-1) from the WPIAL, who also have strong squads.

Franklin Regional will open the PIAA tournament at 8 p.m. Thursday against District 3's Wilson.

Latrobe faces District 4 champion Jersey Shore and North Allegheny faces Cumberland Valley, both at 6 p.m.

Franklin Regional finished third in the tournament a year ago, opening with wins against Jersey Shore and Owen J. Roberts. After a loss to Central Dauphin in the semifinals, the Panthers bounced back with wins against Erie McDowell and Easton.

Experience is why Franklin Regional is favored to win the title. The Panthers return numerous starters from the 2013 squad, including Michael Kemerer, Tyler Smith, Josh Maruca, Josh Shields, Brandon Yant and Kyle Berk. Adding to the lineup Devin Brown (106), who wrestled in the Class AA tournament for Saegertown, and freshman standout Spencer Lee (113) makes the Panthers nearly unbeatable.

“Whenever a team is as fortunate as we are, as soon as one person wins and then the next person wins, it's just like a snowball effect,” Shields said. “You feed off of everybody's emotions and enthusiasm. It pumps you up and gets everybody hyped up. You've got to love it.”

Latrobe coach Tad Harbert said there is a reason why Franklin Regional is No. 1 in the state.

“What can you do against them?” Harbert said. “They're top 10 in the country and that's our two losses. The six studs are unbeatable.

“We gave our heart and gave our all against them. Our kids have to be like a bad golfer, short-time memory loss. If you hit a bad shot, move on.”

North Allegheny earned its second consecutive trip to Hershey. The Tigers easily defeated City League champion Allderdice, 72-6, Monday.

Tigers coach Jamie Kyriazis said his team must reset and focus on some new goals.

“We have a lot of young guys who haven't been there,” Kyriazis said. “As a coach, if you can't get to Hershey as an individual because how tough it is, get there as a team and get the experience.”

WPIAL Class AA champion Burrell has different goals. With the tournament loaded with talented teams, especially District 11 power and returning champion Bethlehem Catholic, the Bucs' goal is to finish in the top four.

“I've preached the message to these guys all year: Guys like (seniors) Steve Edwards, Corey Falleroni, Nick Pattock, they can't win us a team medal,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “Can they help? Certainly. But the most they can do is get us six points. It's going to take guys with less credentialed backgrounds giving us 100 percent effort to achieve our team goal, and that's to come home with a medal this weekend.”

Burrell was 1-2 last season, while South Fayette went 0-2.

Burrell's first match is against District 6's Hamburg at 2 p.m., while South Fayette faces District 6 champion Huntingdon at 4 p.m.

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

PIAA Team Tournament

Giant Center, Hershey


Class AAA

Returning champion: Canon-McMillan.

Top teams: D-1 Boyertown; D-3 Cumberland Valley and Central Dauphin; WPIAL Franklin Regional, Latrobe and North Allegheny; D-11 Nazareth.

The winner: Franklin Regional has eight wrestlers ranked in the state, including returning PIAA champions Devin Brown (106) and Tyler Smith (132).

Class AA

Returning champion: Bethlehem Catholic.

Top teams: D-3 Boiling Springs; D-5 Chestnut Ridge; D-6 Huntingdon; WPIAL Burrell and South Fayette; D-9 Brookville; D-10 Reynolds; D-11 Bethlehem Catholic.

The winner: Bethlehem Catholic has 10 wrestlers ranked in the state, led by No. 1 ranked Luke Karam (113) and Zeke Moisey (126).



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