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Norwin's Phipps earns spot in PIAA semifinals

| Friday, March 7, 2014, 6:27 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Norwin's Andrew Phipps scores the winning takedown on Boyertown's Jordan Wertz in their 195-pound bout during the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AAA wrestling championships on Friday, March 7, 2014, at Giant Center in Hershey. Phipps won 3-1.

HERSHEY — For a kid with a spot in the semifinals of the PIAA Class AAA wrestling championships, Norwin sophomore 195-pounder Drew Phipps grappled with an unusual amount of displeasure Friday afternoon at Giant Center.

Phipps (25-1), who went 1-2 in the state tournament a season ago, sits one win away from the PIAA title match. He'll meet Governor Mifflin junior Jan Johnson (42-1) in the semifinals, which begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

When he steps on the mat again, Phipps hopes to have rediscovered his more aggressive, offensive approach to matches.

One day after beating his first-round opponent in overtime, he again came through in a clutch situation as he scored a takedown in the final 30 seconds of his 3-1 win over Boyertown's Jordan Wertz in the quarterfinals.

“I'm not getting very many shots off, and I don't feel like I'm wrestling my style,” Phipps said. “I feel like I'm hesitating too much. Even the shots I am taking, when I'm not getting them, I'm still able to scramble out, so I should be taking a lot more. But it doesn't feel like they're open or something.

“The quality is just a lot better than you're used to when you get up here.”

Phipps is certain to finish in the top six of his weight class. His sights remain set on a gold medal, though.

“It's a big improvement,” he said of his state tournament improvement from a season ago to now.

“But I feel like I'm not wrestling my best, so I need to step it up for the semifinals and finals.”

Norwin's only PIAA finalist came in 1965, when Tim Morgan placed second in the 95-pound weight class.

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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