High school wrestling notebook: WPIAL wrestlers set records
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The high school wrestling season came to an end Saturday in Hershey, and it turned out to be another fantastic year for WPIAL wrestlers.
There were 11 PIAA champions, including a record eight in Class AAA. In Class AAA, 29 of the 42 wrestlers ended up with medals, and 17 of 34 in Class AA stood on the podium.
Kittanning senior Jason Nolf had the biggest weekend. The Penn State recruit won his third Class AA title (145 pounds), and Canon-McMillan senior Solomon Chishko (145-AAA), Latrobe sophomore Luke Pletcher (120-AAA) and Franklin Regional junior Devin Brown (106-AAA) won their second titles.
Nolf was named the Outstanding Wrestler in Class AA.
“It's pretty cool, I guess,” Nolf said. “It was my goal. I'm pretty excited about going to Penn State and becoming a four-time national champion.”
The other champions were Franklin Regional freshman Spencer Lee (113-AAA), Canon-McMillan senior Dalton Macri (126-AAA), Penn-Trafford freshman Cam Coy (132-AAA), Central Catholic junior Vincenzo Joseph (138-AAA), Latrobe senior Zack Zavatsky (182-AAA), Burrell senior Steven Edwards (152-AA) and Avella senior Jake Temple (220-AA).
Others reaching the finals were Franklin Regional seniors Michael Kemerer (138-AAA) and Josh Shields (152-AAA), Central Catholic senior Kyle Coniker (170-AAA), Mt. Lebanon junior Kellan Stout (182-AAA) and South Fayette junior J.J. Walker (160-AA).
Franklin Regional and Latrobe continued to show why they were the best teams in the state.
The Panthers won their first WPIAL and PIAA team titles and added team titles in the individual tournaments.
Franklin Regional's dynamic six of Brown, Lee, Tyler Smith, Kemerer, Josh Marcua and Shields each earned medals. Lee and Brown won titles, Smith and Shields lost heartbreakers in the finals and Smith and Marcua each finished third.
Brown edged Northampton freshman Dan Moran, 7-6, in the 106-pound final, and Lee dominated General McLane senior Joe Wheeling, 15-5, at 113.
“This was a very good accomplishment,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “I thought the boys wrestled very well. They really pushed themselves and did an excellent job. They did what they were supposed to.
“The two matches we lost in the finals, we wrestled very well. We were very close to having four champions.”
Kemerer finished second in the state tournament for the third consecutive season. This time he was pinned by Joseph in overtime. Kemerer nearly had a takedown, but Joseph countered to score his own takedown.
Shields fell behind Cumberland Valley's T.C. Warner but dominated the second part of the match before losing 4-3.
Latrobe, which finished second to Franklin Regional this season, also returned home with two champions: Pletcher (120) and Zavatsky (182).
After Zavatsky defeated Stout, 3-1, in the finals, he sank to his knees and held his arms out.
“Finally,” Zavatsky said. “There is no better feeling than this right now. This is the most I've wanted anything all my life. Every day, it's been on my mind since I didn't win it last year.
“Every single day I'd write it down in my notes, 2014 state champion. I worked for it and I finally got it.”
Zavatsky and former Latrobe coach Marc Billett shared an emotional embrace after the match. Billett said Zavatsky and Pletcher deserved the state titles. Both finished undefeated.
And despite shoulder injuries, Dom Scalise and Jake Shaffer earned medals. Shaffer was eighth at 152 and Scalise sixth at 160.
“This is a dream. I'm speechless at this point,” Latrobe coach Tad Harbert said. “To have two undefeated state champions, what more could you ask for?”
Coy surprised many, except himself and Penn-Trafford coach Rich Ginther, in winning the 132-pound title.
Coy came on strong at the end of the season. In four matches at Hershey, he allowed just one point, which came in his 2-1 win against Nazareth's Chase Zemenak in the finals.
“He's very tough, and he's been in a lot of big tournaments,” Ginther said. “These surroundings didn't bother him.”
Dunn never done
Bethel Park junior Paul Dunn dropped his first match and then won five consolation-round matches to finish third at the WPIAL tournament.
Dunn upset Easton senior Elijah Brown in the first round of the state tournament and then fell to Warner, the eventual 152-pound champion.
He then won four matches in the consolation round to end up third, defeating Altoona senior David Hollingshead, 5-3.
This and that
The PIAA wrestling committee is considering an expansion to the field, going from 16 wrestlers to 20. The WPIAL likely would get at least one more entry.
The PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional may be moving next season. The tournament, which was held at Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown, could move to IUP. The tournament previously has been held at Pitt-Johnstown and W&J.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.
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