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Unbeaten Norwin sophomore Phipps one of 26 area wrestlers set for Southwest regional

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 12:39 a.m.
Gary Bills | For the Norwin Star
Norwin sophomore Drew Phipps (right) wrestles Penn-Trafford's Matt McGillick during the 195-pound final at the WPIAL Section 1-AAA tournament on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, at Gateway High School.

Norwin sophomore Drew Phipps appears to be making the most of his abbreviated wrestling season, taking an unbeaten record into the PIAA Class AAA Southwest Region tournament Thursday through Saturday at Canon-McMillan.

Phipps, who missed a large portion of the year because of an ankle injury, is 20-0 at 195 pounds after claiming his second consecutive WPIAL Section 1-AAA championship Saturday at Gateway.

He is seeded No. 2 for the regional event and will open against the winner of a preliminary-round match between James Zeremenko (9-10) of Canon-McMillan and Jake Kraus (13-14) of Hampton.

“Overall, I felt good,” Phipps said of Saturday's matches. “I definitely could have stepped it up a little in the finals, but a win's a win.”

He won the title to earn a first-round bye Thursday by defeating Vaughn Flodine of Penn Hills, Travis Schmeling of Latrobe and Penn-Trafford freshman Matt McGillick by a 10-4 decision in the final.

Norwin coach Todd Schuchert was impressed with Phipps' effort after the injury, saying, “Drew has a chance to win the whole (WPIAL) tournament,” which serves as the Class AAA Southwest regional.

Twenty-six wrestlers from Daily News-area schools have qualified for regional tournaments, including 19 in Class AAA, led by Thomas Jefferson with seven.

Norwin, with Phipps among the field, and West Mifflin will send four each to the Class AAA competition. McKeesport qualified three and Elizabeth Forward one.

The Class AA regional Friday and Saturday at Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown will include four wrestlers from South Allegheny and three from Yough.

A pair of 220-pound juniors — Seth Hitchens (33-7) of South Allegheny and Tom Sever (31-7) of Yough — offer the most impressive record among local Class AA qualifiers.

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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