Kiski Area's Kuhn draws unbeaten 3-time champ in PIAA Class AAA semifinals
HERSHEY — The name “Thomas Haines” has been in the back of Kiski Area senior heavyweight Shane Kuhn's mind all wrestling season.
On Saturday morning, Haines will stand right in front of Kuhn, which is what Kuhn has wanted all season.
He just wishes a PIAA title, rather than a spot in the finals, was at stake.
The victim of bad bracket luck for a second straight season, Kuhn (38-1) will square off with Haines (40-0), a Solanco senior who's a three-time state champion and a favorite to win No. 4, in the semifinals, which begin at 9 a.m. at the Giant Center.
“Everyone is good at states, and no one gets an easy match,” said Kuhn, who expressed his desire to test himself against Haines often this season. “Mine always just seem to be the most difficult, but that's all right.”
Kuhn, a two-time PIAA placewinner, is in the semifinals for a third consecutive season. Last season, he lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Aaron Bradley of Nazareth, who entered the 2013 tournament as the weight class' frontrunner.
PIAA pairings are determined by pre-drawn, randomly-chosen brackets. No seeding process means title contenders sometimes end up on the same side of the bracket, a reality Kuhn, owner of fourth- and third-place finishes in Hershey, knows all too well.
“I thought, ‘You've got to wrestle them all anyway,' ” Kuhn said of his initial reaction to the PIAA bracket for the 285-pound weight class. “I saw that the top three kids in the state are all on the same side of the bracket, and it'll make it all worth it if you win. Whoever wins this side of the bracket has a good shot of winning the whole thing. It makes you feel better if you beat all the best guys.”
Kuhn topped Methacton senior Tracey Green, 1-0, in the quarterfinals Friday. With his squat stature, Green, who placed sixth at heavyweight last season, presented a challenge for the long, lean and explosive Kuhn.
“I expected a close match,” Kuhn said. “I didn't know he'd be that hard to score on, but I found out pretty early. He's shorter and real built; a strong, athletic kid. And he's hard to wrestle for sure.
“It just shows why you don't want to give up any points in a match, because 1-0 wins. I never want that kind of match; I want to score as many points as possible. But I don't panic in that situation.”
While Kuhn continued his string of semifinal appearances, Kiski Area sophomore 220-pounder Tyler Worthing came up short in his effort to reach the final four for the first time.
Worthing lost 18-1 to returning PIAA finalist Jordan Wood of Boyertown in the quarterfinals.
More frustration followed, as Worthing lost his first consolation bout 3-1 to Parkland's Omar Haddad.
The second loss ended Worthing's goal of getting on the podium in his first PIAA tournament trip.