Making moves on the mats
Each of the six county high school wrestling teams endured unusual campaigns last season. Now, they're underway on the mats, happy to have fans back in the bleachers and get back to the regular format.
North Catholic rejoins the fold and will wrestle as a team in WPIAL Class 2A. The team welcomes a full schedule, which is a far cry from what it had the last time around.
The team only grappled with Gateway and Central Catholic before participating in its sub-section tournament last year.
“A lot of the coaching process is seeing (your team) compete,” North coach Darin Lyles said. “But last year, we wrestled two duals. ... They really only competed three times.”
The team recently held its first home dual meet in over six years and returns five lettermen in Matthew Denninger (126 pounds), Rigel Weakland (145), Patrick Synan (172), Daniel Long (215), and Justin Smith (285).
106-N/A, 113-N/A, 120-Scott Huffmyer (freshman), 126-Matthew Denninger (junior), 132-Brendan Culley (sophomore), 138-Marco Perri (sophomore), 145-Rigel Weakland (junior), 152-Justin Veres (freshman), 160-Rocky Liguori (sophomore), 172-Patrick Synan (senior), 189-Dennis Harrington (sophomore), 215-Daniel Long (junior), 285-Justin Smith (junior)
Last year's WPIAL runner-up, Seneca Valley is in relatively uncharted waters, dealing with injuries in a few weight classes and trying to fill the shoes of some key graduation losses.“We're trying to get everybody sorted out and at the right weights so we can be as competitive as we can,” said Kevin Wildrick, who's in his 11th year with the Raiders. “We have a lot of work to do to reach the level that we were at the last four years.”Alejandro Herrera-Rondon, a USA Today boys wrestling all-star in his time at SV, has continued on to Oklahoma. Dylan Chappell and Antonio Amelio are now at Bucknell.“We're going to be a little light, probably not compete on the team side of things too well, but we'll have some individuals with a good shot to place, for sure,” Wildrick said.A few of those wrestlers include Connor Smith (106), winner of the subsection at 113 pounds last year, and Tyler Chappell (120), who won the section, WPIAL, and super regionals on his way to finishing third in the state at 106 pounds a season ago. Liam Volk-Klos (189) enters the schedule with a 72-47 career record and aspirations to study at an Ivy league school. He also notched perfect scores on each the SAT and ACT this fall.106-Connor Smith (soph), 113-Brody Pirt (freshman), 120-Tyler Chappell (junior), 126-Natalie Tofanelli (soph), 132-Tegan Leighty (junior), 138-N/A, 145-Jacob Eubanks (junior), 152-Wayne Pirt (junior), 160-N/A, 172-Marshall Adamson (senior), 189-Aidan Hayes (senior), 215-N/A, 285-Roman Royal (soph)
Mars came second to the Raiders in the sub-section last year. Guided by coach Bob Jox, the Planets are trying to piece together a lineup affected by early-season injuries suffered by junior Jonathan Grieco (145) and senior Eli Wright (160).“We've got some freshmen that we're really going to depend on that can wrestle and that have come up through our program,” Jox said. “They're about to get thrown into the fire, maybe a little faster than they would have normally.”Liam Hein (120), Nicholas Butler (126), Mason Childress (152) are all rookies expected to make an impact alongside senior Christian Scheller (172), a champion at in his weight class at the Chartiers-Houston Invitational, and sophomore heavyweight Riley Lefcakis.“He's coming on,” Jox said of Scheller. “He has a chance to go to Hershey and be a high placer at the state tournament.”106-N/A, 113-Miles Frazier (freshman), 120-Liam Hein (freshman), 126-Nicholas Butler (freshman), 132-Rocco Darocy (junior), 138-Griffin Frazier (junior), 145-Jaden Fotta (senior), 152-Mason Childress (freshman), 160-Cooper Courson (soph), 172-Christian Scheller (senior), 189-Ethan Wolf (freshman), 215-N/A, 285-Riley Lefcakis (soph)
As compared to last year, the Rockets are ahead of the curve. The team wasn't able to get going until January a season ago.Seniors Tony Pilosi (41-10) at 189 pounds and Justin Pearce (43-35) figure to lead the Rockets. Pilosi was a regional qualifier a year ago and, along with Pearce, Slippery Rock coach Denton Zeronas believes the duo has potential to make a state run this time out.Zeronas is also excited to see what sophomores Ryan Double (126) and Josh Tomaosovic (138) are able to contribute.106-Lexi Doerflinger (junior), 113-Danny Dinh (freshman), 120-N/A, 126-Ryan Double (sophomore), 132-Zane Lynch (senior), 138-Joshua Tomaosovic (sophomore), 145-Zane McClelland (sophomore), 152-Jaidan Stone (senior), 160-Robert Foster (junior), 172-Justin Pearce (senior), 189-Tony Pilosi (senior), 215-Braiden Reich (junior), 285-Landen Shaffer
The Golden Tornado's season was cut short last season when they had to pull out of the playoffs due to COVID issues.“It was, probably winning-percentage-wise, one of our best teams at 14-2 at that point,” said Scott Stoner, now in his 29th year.Stoner is excited to get rolling with this year's group, which won the Chartiers-Houston Invitational.“This year's team is very much the same (as last year),” Stoner said. “It's got a lot of really top-quality kids and some very stellar seniors. And it's got some underclassmen who are really making some noise.”Senior Cooper Baxter, with an 89-24 career record at 189 pounds, would have been a state qualifier last year, if not for the different format. Jake Pomykata (285) was a match away from states a season ago.Sophomore Ana Malovich comes off of a 15-5 season as a freshman. She took third in the Chartiers-Houston Invitational.106-Ana Malovich (soph), 113-Kelley Schaukowitsch (soph), 120-Gavin Rush (freshman), 126-Kase Chopp (freshman), 132-Garrett Walsh (junior), 138-Domenic Vivirito (senior), 145-Levi Donnel (junior), 152-Cade Savochka (senior), 160-Matt Zinkhann (junior), 172-Mickey Kreinbucher (junior), 189-Cooper Baxter (senior), 215-Landon Christie (junior), 285-Jake Pomykata (senior)
The Knights were shut down for a few weeks early in the season last year, forcing them to miss a good portion of their opening schedule. The team will have a more regular pace this year.Freshman Miranda LaJevic (106) is one of the best athletes in the group, Knoch coach Bob aldron said.“She's kind of paving the way,” Waldron said. “She's the first (girl) to kind of grow out of the (youth) division.”Junior Matthew Frank is moving down to the 113-pound weight class and placed in the Hickory Invitational Tournament. Senior Christopher Michaux also placed at that particular event.Senior Nicholas Golab stands in at the 126-pound weight class.“He's probably one of the top few wrestlers on the team,” Waldron said.106-Miranda LaJevic (freshman), 113-Matthew Frank (junior), 120-N/A, 126-Paul Kuczynski (soph), 132-Nicholas Golab (senior), 138-Christopher Michaux (senior), 145-Anthony Nicolazzo (soph), 152-Aaron Butler (senior), 160-Gavin McGowan (senior), 172-Caden Toy (junior), 189-Wyatt Foster (freshman), 215-Nathaniel Becker (senior), 285-N/A