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Newcomers find Class AA wrestling regionals daunting, but they're still alive for states

Eric Schmadel | For the Tribune-Review - Kittanning senior Jason Nolf works to turn South Fayette junior Brett Beltz during their 145-pound PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Wrestling Tournament quarterfinal bout on February 28, 2014, at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Eric Schmadel  |  For the Tribune-Review</em></div>Kittanning senior Jason Nolf works to turn South Fayette junior Brett Beltz during their 145-pound PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Wrestling Tournament quarterfinal bout on February 28, 2014, at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown.
Eric Schmadel | For the Tribune-Review - Blairsville junior Scott Thompson looks to pin West Shamokin junior Brendon Glover during their 182-pound PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Wrestling Tournament quarterfinal bout on February 28, 2014, at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Eric Schmadel  |  For the Tribune-Review</em></div>Blairsville junior Scott Thompson looks to pin West Shamokin junior Brendon Glover during their 182-pound PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Wrestling Tournament quarterfinal bout on February 28, 2014, at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown.

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Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, 11:36 p.m.
 

Kittanning sophomore 220-pounder Jacob Robb noticed just the largeness and loudness of Cambria County War Memorial when he stood in the middle of the Johnstown arena Friday during the opening night of the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional Championships.

What struck West Shamokin junior 182-pounder Brendon Glover was the chilliness of the War Memorial, a hockey rink.

Impressions for first-time participants in the regional tournament vary, but Robb and Glover agreed the event tested their mettle. Both, however, made it through the first day of competition.

Robb advanced to the semifinals, and Glover kept himself in the consolation bracket after losing a quarterfinal, so each will wrestle Saturday. Action begins at 11 a.m.

Kittanning senior 145-pounder Jason Nolf, meanwhile, is expected to deliver one of Saturday's highlights as he can become the fifth wrestler in the tournament's 28-year history to claim four Class AA regional titles.

The top five finishers in each weight class advance to the PIAA Championships in Hershey. Robb and Nolf need to win just one more match each to ensure themselves spots in the state tournament, while Glover has to win two more.

“I think it's lined up perfectly for me to go. I just need to execute,” said Glover, whose only loss Friday came against No. 1 seed Scott Thompson of Blairsville. “The first-round match (a 7-3 win for Glover), I was really nervous and couldn't stop pacing. … There was a good bit of people here today, and it's cold in here. You definitely have to warm up a little bit.”

Robb, whose only loss in the WPIAL Tournament came against undefeated Avella senior Jake Temple, will meet another unbeaten in the regional semifinals as he squares off with West Branch junior Reynold Maines (34-0).

That reality might test Robb's ability to relax in a venue that he found daunting, even after visiting it during a previous trip to watch his older brother, Nate, a 2013 Kittanning grad, compete in regionals.

“The gym, it's really big,” Robb said. “There are a lot of people here, so it's kind of hard to get used to it. And there's a lot of noise, so it's hard to hear your coach. It's weird wrestling in a different environment.”

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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