CANONSBURG – Chris Vargo walked off the mat with a scowl on his face that could bring rain.

He tore his headgear off and let it hang loosely along his side.

There wasn’t even a hint of smile from this freshman from Bentworth.

And he was a 4-1 winner over Damon Michaels in the 113-pound final of the WPIAL Class AA Championships, handing the Elizabeth Forward freshman his first loss of the season.

Good thing the match wasn’t closer or who knows what Vargo might have done.

“I didn’t really wrestle well,” said Vargo. “I couldn’t finish any of my shots. Towards the end, I focused on stalling and not on scoring any points.”

In the 85-year history of this tournament, there have been only 31 four-time champions but Vargo has put himself in the conversation after the win over Michaels (24-1).

Vargo raised his season and career record to 11-0. The lack of mat time was a concern for the Bentworth coaches.

The top three wrestlers in each weight class advanced to the regional tournament Saturday at Indiana University.

Burgettstown had two runners-up and three wrestlers who finished in third place. Beth-Center had four third-place finishers. Burrell led all schools with four champions.

Shane Kemper of Burgettstown surprised a lot of people by moving up a weight class for the postseason. But the choice to settle in at 189 paid big dividends as Kemper, a senior, moved on to next week’s regional tournament with a second-place finish.

“I feel I have better movement,” said Kemper. “Like a lot of thee 189-pounders, (Trevor) Schultheis couldn’t move real good. That’s why I came up.”

This was Kemper’s third trip to the finals. The tradeoff this time was giving up some weight for more quickness. It mattered as Patrick Cutchember of Quaker Valley shut out Kemper, 6-0 in the finals.

“He’s a real positional type of wrestler,” said Kemper, “but so am I. He just came out on top.”

In the 126-pound finals, Joey Fischer (15-0) of South Park, a state runner-up last season, stopped Joey Sentipal of Burgettstown, 12-3. Sentipal made it to the finals with a thrilling 8-6 decision over Shawn Szymanski of Burrell in the semifinals.

Ethan Barr made it to the 172-pound finals, where Rune Lawrence, a freshman from Frazier, ended the McGuffey sebior’s run with a pin in 1:36. That made Barr a three-time WPIAL runner-up.

“The goal wasn’t to go out and get pinned,” said Barr. “I don’t like to think that that’s a possibility. This is just a bump in the road.”

Barr made it to the finals with a 6-3 decision over Noah Gnibus of Mt. Pleasant.

Joe Baronick showed some ability to rebound, pinning Vitali Daniels of Bentworth in 3:43 in the consolation semifinals. But Baronick fell to Nick Murphy of Elizabeth Forward, 9-0, for third place.

Winners were Cooper Hornack (106) and Niko Ferra (120) of Burrell; Vargo (113) ; Joey Fischer (126) of South Park; Jamison Poklembo (132); Ian Oswalt (138) of Burrell; Ken Duschek (145) of Blackhawk; Grant MacKay (152) of Laurel; AJ Corrado (160) of Burrell; Rune Lawrence (172) of Frazier; Patrick Cutchember (189) of Quaker Valley; Dayton Pitzer (215) of Mt. Pleasant; and Mitch Miles (Hvy) of Laurel.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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