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Kiski Area dominates Highlands, 62-7

| Thursday, Jan. 16, 2003

ALLEGHENY TWP.: Youth wrestlers from the Highlands and Kiski Area school districts tangled before the big guys took over the mat on Wednesday night.

To Kiski Area's varsity grapplers, the action must have looked a little familiar.

The Cavaliers have made their 10-0 start against some tough competition look like, well, child's play.

Kiski Area bullied Highlands, 62-7, in a Section 4-AAA match at Kiski Area High School on Wednesday night.

Kiski Area also improved to 7-0 in section.

Highlands slipped to 2-5 in section.

Highlands is just the latest in a growing list of victories by impressive margins for Kiski Area.

Kiski Area has ripped through section and highly ranked nonsection opponents alike this season.

The Cavaliers have outscored dual meet foes, 607-72, or by an average of 60.7-7.2. They haven't scored less than 40 points or surrendered more than 15 points in a single match.

Kiski Area downed defending WPIAL Class AAA champion Connellsville, 40-15, in December. Many wrestling followers consider Connellsville to be the second or third best team in AAA this season.

Kiski Area also defeated McGuffey, 52-7, on Tuesday, and McGuffey is widely considered the second or third best team in AAA.

Burrell, one of the top AA teams, also scored 15 points against Kiski Area.

In WPIAL high school wrestling, Kiski Area's season is nothing short of domination.

"This is the finest Kiski Area lineup I've ever faced," said Highlands coach Jeff Pollick, whose team is 0-6 against the Cavaliers since he took over in the 1997-98 season.

That's notable praise, considering Kiski Area has made the WPIAL playoffs in ever one of those seasons.

"As an opposing coach, all you can hope for is that they come down with a temporary flu," Pollick said, jokingly. "The way they're wrestling, that's about the best chance opposing teams have against them."

Kiski Area last lost a section match in the 1992-93 season and a nonsection match in 1999-2000. The Cavaliers have finished with one loss in each of the last two seasons. Last year, they were seeded No. 1 but were upset in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

But this season, so far, so good, as Kiski Area has made even highly ranked opponents look like rebuilding squads.

"In the western part of the state, where the top four or five teams battle it out ever year, we're a force," Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said. "Other coaches are looking at our lineup and trying to figure out how to move kids around to find somebody to beat. But they're just moving into another good, aggressive guy."

Kiski Area won the WPIAL AAA title in 1997. McGuffey claimed the crown in 1998 and 1999, and Connellsville won it in 2000 and 2001.

Many of the Kiski Area Cavaliers have wrestled together since they were in first or second grade. Only a few were youth champions, but all have shown great dedication to getting better, Tursky said.

However, Tursky isn't ready to anoint the 2002-03 team the best in school history. The 1997 team won a WPIAL championship, and recent teams with high hopes have fallen short of that goal.

"I thought the 1997 team would be the best team I would ever coach," Tursky said. "I'll wait (to make a judgement about this year's team). But they've certainly proven they're a dominating team. Now it's a matter of staying healthy and going through the playoffs. If they win a WPIAL championship, I will say they are the equivalent of the 1997 team."

This year's team will have a chance to do what the 1997 team couldn't — compete for a state title. The state tournament was added after the 1997 season.

Tursky said the 1997 team could have finished first or second in the state. He thinks this year's team is good enough to at least be a state finalist.

One thing is for sure, the team members are highly motivated, Tursky said.

"They feed off each other's enthusiasm," he said. "Nobody wants to be the one to lose."

That's obvious by looking at Kiski Area's results.

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