Marc Billett/For the Observer-Reporter

Luca Augustine of Waynesburg shows the emotion of winning the 172-pound title in the PIAA Class AAA wrestling tournament last month.

Grit and determination are two words you can use to describe Luca Augustine’s wrestling.

The senior from Waynesburg High School is an incredibly smart wrestler as shown by his rematch with Trey Kibe of Mifflin County in the 172-pound finals of the PIAA Class AAA Individual Championships last month at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Augustine, who will pursue a medical degree at Pitt, is uniquely qualified to diagnose his problems on the mat and correct them.

That’s why he became one of Waynesburg’s three state champions and was the hammer in the lineup that helped the Raiders win the PIAA Class AAA Team Tournament title.

It’s also why Augustine is the Outstanding Wrestler on the Observer-Reporter All-District Wrestling Team.

Augustine had two close competitors in Wyatt Henson, who wrapped up his second straight state individual title and nearly had a perfect season; and Mac Church, who won the 120-pound individual title in Hershey.

Henson and Church were part of the first team. Others included Cole Homet (138), Rocco Welsh (152) and Colten Stoneking (132) of Waynesburg; Cole Weightman (215) of Belle Vernon; Andrew Binni (106) of Canon-McMillan; Chris Vargo (113) of Bentworth; Ethan Barr (172) of McGuffey; Joey Sentipal (126) and Shane Kemper (189) of Burgettstown; and Kyle McCollum (132) of Beth-Center.

The second team consisted of Parker Sentipal (106) and Gavin Suica (120) of Burgettstown; Tyler Berish (145) of Beth-Center; Ky Szewczyk (106), Joe Simon (113), Nate Stephenson (160) and Ryan Howard (Hvy) of Waynesburg; Blake Reihner (120), Ty Banco (215) and Tyler Brophy (Hvy) of Trinity; Jacob Houpt (120), Matthew Furman (172) and Tyler Rohaley (215) of Canon-McMillan.

Joey Vigliotti of Burgettstown is the Coach of the Year in Class AA and Joe Throckmorton of Waynesburg earned the honor in Class AAA.

As usual, inclusion in the all-district team was determined by the accomplishments of each wrestler within his respective weight class.

Augustine had every reason to doubt himself in the state finals against Kibe, a 5-3 winner over Augustine in the 172 finals of the West Class AAA Super Region.

“After winning the state title, it felt like a lot of weight was lifted off my shoulders,” said Augustine. “I was supposed to wrestle him in the (early season) PA Power tournament but he dropped out of there. He beat me the first time, which was disappointing. That match, I wasn’t very aggressive. I was forcing it. His defensive positioning is elite. My offense isn’t the greatest.”

So Augustine planned a different style against the returning state champion.

“Kibe’s best position is on top and we knew he couldn’t ride me out. That’s why we thought if we got in the deep water, it would be in my favor,” said Augustine. “I never really gave it much thought. I didn’t know what to do after I won. That’s why I just ran around in circles.”

Augustine, who finished his high school career with a 122-24 career record, said this was a good team to be a part of and that everyone was a friend and had strong workout partners in the practice room. After all, when you have five state finalists on the team, you are bound to run into one or two of them in the room.

“He’s improved so much. I’m proud of him like crazy,” said Waynesburg Joe Throckorton. “He’s as smart as can be; he wants to be a doctor. He’s improved so much. He’s so deserving of this.

“I told all my backups that we have really good seniors. And you don’t always get the chance to wrestle them. If we are going to be WPIAL champions again, the guys in the lineup next year aren’t going to have guys like Wyatt and Luca as workout partners.”

It was Augustine who couldn’t find a spot in the lineup early in his career. Jackson Henson and Caleb Morris blocked his way at 132 and 138 pounds. When Morris dropped at the end of the season, a spot opened up and Augustine got his first taste of the postseason as a freshman.

Once settled, Augustine didn’t let anyone block his way again. He went 42-9 and was a state qualifier as a sophomore, and 43-10 and a sixth-place finisher at 160 pounds in Hershey as a junior.

This year, a much larger Augustine, thanks to a commitment to the weight room, dominated the 172-pound weight class with 22-1 record. Waynesburg was favored to win both team titles and the only thing that stopped the Raiders from a perfect season was a second-place finish in the Powerade Tournament at the Monroeville Convention Center only because Augustine was held out because of a precaution for an injury.

At the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic, Augustine, Alejandro Herrara-Rondon of Seneca Valley and Henson rallied the Pennsylvania team, winning the final three bouts and snapping a seven-match losing streak.

It was a great way to end the season and to give wrestling fans a peak of what may come in college.

Both of Augustine are in medical school and are just steps away from being a doctor. Augustine will be following in those footsteps.

“That’s the goal,” said Augustine. “Starting out, I was having trouble deciding what to do. I wanted to help people.”

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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