Augustine

By Joe Tuscano/Staff writer/jtuscano@observer-reporter.com

Luca Augustine (back) of Waynesburg holds onto Sammy Starr of Kiski during their 172-pound bout last Saturday.

Luca Augustine wishes he could have wrestled at the Powerade Tournament, just over a month ago, but now realizes that scratching was the best decision he could have made.

“I was heartbroken,” said Augustine, a Waynesburg senior who was recovering from an injury when the tournament was held. “I was the top seed. I really wanted to wrestle but after talking it over with Coach (Joe) Throckmorton, we decided that it would be best for me and the team if I scratched.”

Augustine and his Waynesburg teammates had bigger goals. The Raiders dominated the WPIAL Team Tournament and will be the favorite to win a PIAA team title later this month.

“It was clearly the best decision for me,” said Augustine. “Winning a state title is more important than a Powerade title.”

Augustine (16-0) is actually hoping to win two PIAA titles: team and individual. He took a big step toward an individual title by winning a second WPIAL gold medal last Saturday at Canon-McMillan High School. He captured the 172-pound crown with a 2-1 victory over Kiski Area’s Sammy Starr (34-3).

“It’s great to win another (WPIAL) title, but I’m not done yet,” Augustine said. “I have to get ready for super regions next week. This is my senior year and I’m going all out.”

By placing among the top three in his weight class at the WPIAL tournament, Augustine has qualified for Saturday’s West Super Regional Tournament, which will be held at Altoona High School.

Two super regionals – East and West – are being held in each classification this weekend, a change made possible because of COVID-19 restrictions. The PIAA is allowing only eight individuals in each postseason tournament. The top four finishers in each tournament qualify for the PIAA finals, which will be held next weekend in Hershey.

The West Super Regional will include entries from the WPIAL (which also stands for the Southwest Region), Northwest Region, and South Central Region.

“The West Super Region is much tougher than the East,” Throckmorton said. “It’s not even close when you look at the caliber of wrestling. The East Super Region has some good kids, but not as much depth as the West. If you win the West Super Region, you have a good chance of winning a state title.”

Augustine is seeded No. 2 in Saturday’s tournament, behind Mifflin County’s Trey Kibe (17-0), a two-time PIAA placewinner who won a title at 160 in 2019.

“I have to beat Trey Kibe, maybe twice, to win a state title,” Augustine said.

Waynesburg will be well represented in the West Super Regional, as Augustine is one of seven Raiders entries. The others are: Cole Homet (25-1 at 138), Wyatt Henson (27-0 at 145), Rocco Welsh (22-3 at 152), Joseph Simon (22-4 at 113), Mac Church (22-2 at 120), and Colton Stoneking (27-3 at 132).

Homet is the top seed at 138 pounds after his 4-2 win over Franklin Regional’s Finn Solomon (29-2) in the WPIAL final.

“It’s the same gameplan for this weekend,” said Homet, a two-time PIAA medal-winner. “Go in, have fun, score points and just keep myself composed. I will train hard all week and hopefully the outcome will be the same.”

Henson, a returning PIAA champion, is the top seed at 145. He secured a second WPIAL title with his 8-3 win over Norwin’s John Altieri (27-3) in the 145-pound final.

“My goal is to go there (to Altoona) and do what I did here – dominate,” said Henson, after his title match against Altieri.

Welsh faces the toughest road of any Raiders wrestler. His quarterfinal match at 152 is against Central Dauphin’s Bryce Buckman (22-1), the South Central champion. The winner will face either Erie Prep’s Paniro Johnson (12-0), the Northwest champion, or Connellsville’s Jared Keslar (17-2). Johnson is a three-time PIAA placewinner. Keslar placed third in the WPIAL after a 7-6 loss to Welsh in the semifinals.

Simon, a WPIAL third-place finisher, is matched up with Erie Prep’s Jacob Van Dee (11-0), the No. 2 seed, in the quarterfinals. Van Dee was a PIAA runner-up last year.

Stoneking, a WPIAL third-place finisher, has been cleared to wrestle after sustaining a neck injury in the WPIAL consolation for third place when he was slammed by Latrobe’s Nathan Roth.

“Colton was taken to Children’s Hospital as a precaution,” Throckmorton said. “They took x-rays and did not find any serious injury. He met with his doctor this week and was cleared to wrestle.”

Stoneking opens up against Bellefonte’s Jude Swisher (20-1), a Northwest Region champ who placed fourth in the PIAA last year.

Church (22-2) fell short of a second WPIAL title with his 4-3 loss to North Allegheny’s Dylan Coy (24-2) in the WPIAL 120-pound final. Church placed third in the PIAA last year at 106 pounds.

The only other area wrestlers who qualified for Saturday’s tournament are: Canon-McMillan’s Andrew Binni and Trinity’s Ty Banco. Both placed third in the WPIAL.

Binni (22-4) has the unfortunate task of facing Williamsport’s Cael Nasdeo (17-0), the No. 1 seed at 106 pounds in the first round.

Banco (27-8) is also facing a top-seed, Cumberland Valley’s Jacob Lewis (24-0), in the quarterfinals, at 215 pounds.

The super regional tournament will be wrestled in two sessions. Weight classes 106 through 138 will begin at 8:30 a.m. and run through until the finals at 11:45 a.m. Weight classes 145 through 285 will begin at 2 p.m. and run through until the finals at 6:15 p.m.

Waynesburg, Canon-McMillan, and Trinity are among 21 WPIAL teams that have at least one entry. The Raiders have the most entries with seven. Hempfield ranks No. 2 with four entries.

Manheim Township heads up South Central schools with five entries, while Central Daupin is second with four. Bellefonte, State College, and Williamsport have the most entries from the Northwest Region, with four each.

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