Penn-Trafford teammates advance at PIAA Class AAA tournament
HERSHEY — Penn-Trafford senior Cam Coy wasn't pleased with the way he wrestled at the WPIAL Class AAA championships last weekend.
So the two-time PIAA champion changed his approach for the PIAA tournament, which began Thursday at Giant Center.
“I've changed my attitude,” Coy said. “I'm not really focusing on winning. I'm just trying to be the best. The rest will take care of itself.”
Coy (35-0) pinned his first-round opponent, Easton senior Hayden Keleher, in 2 minutes, 19 seconds at 152 pounds. He will face General McLane senior Owen Watkins (32-5) in the quarterfinals, which begin at 2:15 p.m. Friday.
Coy said the bout lasted a little longer because he wanted the pin.
“We want to beat Hempfield in the team standings. That's why I went for the pin,” Coy told Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine in the hallway at the arena. “I'm just trying to have fun and smile a lot.”
Also advancing to the quarterfinals was his teammate, Matt McGillick, who opened with an impressive 15-4 major decision win against Spring Ford sophomore Chase Smith at 182. McGillick (27-9) will face Chambersburg senior Drew Peck (32-4) in the quarterfinal.
McGillick, who lost in the first round last year, said being calm and more confident played a big role in his win.
“I got that first takedown and I kept rolling,” he said. “Knowing what to expect really helped. Hopefully, I wrestle my style in the quarters. That kid placed here last year, and I lost in the blood round.”
The other two Penn-Trafford wrestlers at the tournament dropped into the consolation round. Junior Job Chishko (132) won his preliminary-round match and then lost to Council Rock South senior Zack Trampe, 9-2.
Sophomore Nick Coy dropped a heart-breaker in the preliminary round and then was eliminated in the consolation round.
Franklin Regional senior Spencer Lee (33-0) opened his quest of being a four-time undefeated PIAA champion with a 57-second pin of Easton freshman Jonathan Miers at 126 pounds. Lee will face Harry S. Truman sophomore Gunnar Fuss in the quarterfinals.
Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe said Lee is focused on his task and won't be talking to reporters until Saturday.
Hempfield seniors Vincent Distefanis (120) and Jared Verkleeren (145) opened the tournament with wins. Distefanis (32-3) defeated West Chester Henderson senior Jacob Reid, 9-3. He'll face Liberty senior Luke Werner (34-5).
“I know it will be a battle,” Distefanis said. “He's a pretty tough wrestler, and I'm looking forward to the match.”
Verkleeren (27-1) breezed to a 15-2 victory. He'll face Bald Eagle Area freshman Gage McClenahan (31-5).
“I know he's a former PJW champion,” Verkleeren said. “I'll just try to focus on what I do well and be physical with him.”
Hempfield's Kyle Burkholder (113) and Luke Kemerer (138) dropped into the consolation round with losses. Burkholder was eliminated, and Kemerer is still alive for a medal.
Belle Vernon (Brock Godzin, Zach Hartman and Billy Korber) and Kiski Area (Noah Levett, Joey Blumer and Isaac Reid) advanced three wrestlers in the winners' bracket. Also advancing in the winners' bracket were Norwin freshman Kurtis Phipps (106) and Greensburg Salem senior Alec Shaw (170).
The WPIAL advanced 27 wrestlers in the winner's bracket, including North Allegheny senior Jake Woodley (195), a returning PIAA champion, Bethel Park senior Nino Bonaccorsi (182), Albert Gallatin junior Tim Wallace (170) and Laurel Highlands junior Ian Edenfield (220).
A surprise loser in the opening round was North Allegheny senior Eric Hong, who was beaten by Owen J. Roberts senior Ryan Resnick, 7-3, at 160. It was his first loss of the season.