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Kittanning's Robb, Nolf advance to WPIAL Class AA wrestling semifinals

| Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, 11:51 p.m.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Kittanning's Nate Vukovich, right, wrestles Derek Baker in the 152-pound first round during the WPIAL Individual Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at Chartiers Valley High School.
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Kittanning’s Brendon Malia wrestles Derry Area’s Cole Wano in the 113-pound first round during the WPIAL Individual Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at Chartiers Valley High School.

Kittanning sophomore Jacob Robb spent less than one period's worth of time wrestling in the WPIAL Class AA individual championships Friday night at Chartiers Valley.

The way Robb sees it, the less time he spends on the mat, the less risk he faces of a bulkier opponent lucking his way into a pin.

Undersized compared to his opponents in the 220-pound weight class, Robb (35-5), a No. 2 seed, is on track to a WPIAL title nonetheless. The sophomore, weighing just less than 200 pounds, secured two first-period pins to earn a spot in the semifinals, which begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. He'll wrestle Yough junior Tom Sever (30-5) for a spot in the title bout.

“My goal was just to go out and get done as fast as I can,” said Robb, who wrestled four times at 220 during the regular season.

“I feel like I could get caught at any moment. This is the heaviest I've ever wrestled, and I don't really know what to expect.”

His signature win of the season came against Burrell heavyweight Al Beattie, a defending WPIAL champ who lost to Robb, 13-1, in the WPIAL Section 3-AA team tournament.

That win cemented the suspicions within Robb and his coaches about his ability to thrive against larger foes.

From that humbling performance emerged a smarter, stronger wrestler — one who has already punched his ticket to the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional tournament in Johnstown.

And one thing Robb happily boasts about his new weight class arrangement: Between the WPIAL tournament and the regional round, he can diet as well or as poorly as he desires. Hershey's Birthday Cake ice cream is a guilty pleasure he's particularly eager to enjoy.

“I can eat as much as I want,” he said.

Senior 145-pounder Jason Nolf is Kittanning's only other semifinalist.

Nolf, a Penn State recruit, can become the 23rd wrestler in WPIAL history to win four championships with two more victories.

He is one of eight returning champions poised to place atop the podium again. South Fayette junior 160-pounder J.J. Walker can claim his third title. Burgettstown junior 113-pounder Austin McDermitt, Derry sophomore 120-pounder George Phillippi, Valley senior 126-pounder Patrick Dewitt, South Park sophomore 152-pounder Greg Bulsak, Avella senior 220-pounder Jake Temple and Burrell junior 285-pounder Al Beattie are still in the hunt for title No. 2.

Carr (35-0), Nolf (35-0), Dewitt (35-0), Temple (34-0) and Jefferson-Morgan senior 126-pounder John Demaske (35-0) are the only unbeaten wrestlers left in WPIAL Class AA.

West Shamokin's best hope for a semifinalist fell a round short. Sophomore 106-pounder Bill Hockenberry, who became the first section champion in school history a week ago, lost by pin to Southmoreland sophomore Cole Lambie in the quarterfinals.

Hockenberry will start in the consolation bracket and still can advance to the Southwest Regional round with a top-seven finish.

Consolation matches start at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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