Zander Phaturos

Holly Tonini/For the Observer-Reporter

Waynesburg’s Zander Phaturos, top, controls Canon-McMillan’s Conlan O’Donoghue during a match Wednesday night. Phaturos won by major decision at 126 pounds.

He just might be the tipping point for Waynesburg High School’s wrestling team.

Zander Phaturos makes the Raiders lineup – already the strongest in the WPIAL – possibly the strongest in the state. That’s what a gold and silver medal in the Arizona state tournament can do.

Fans who have watched him wrestle in Waynesburg are convinced. Now, the fans inside the WPIAL will get their first look when the talented junior competes in the Powerade Tournament this weekend at the ConventIon Center in Monroeville.

Action gets underway 9 a.m. today. Quarterfinals are at 8 a.m. Saturday followed by the semifinals at noon. The championship round begins at 5:30 p.m.

Phaturos is the sixth seed at 126 pounds. Four of the five wrestlers seeded ahead of him are seniors. Joey Fisher, a senior from South Park, is top seeded.

Phaturos is an Arizona state champion, winning gold as a sophomore. He took second place as a freshman. His father, Lance, was a WPIAL champion for Riverview and the Phaturoses still had family in Western Pennsylvania when they decided to leave Arizona.

“When we were in Arizona, COVID was raging,” said Phaturos. “We have a lot of family back here. So my dad retired and looked for some job opportunities and scored one.”

The fact his father wrestled so well in the WPIAL has opened doors for the son.

“It’s nice because he has so many connections,” said Zander Phaturos. “A lot of people he grew up with, they are real inviting to me. They are real good people.”

Zander Phaturos is finding that same warmth with his new teammates. Phaturos naturally was drawn to Waynesburg’s talented lineup but his presence in the lineup of, say, Seneca Valley would have made a major difference.

“I love everyone on this team,” he said. “It’s a close bond and I think I fit in well here.”

Phaturos said the big stage of Powerade won’t intimidate him.

“I wrestled in front of large crowds, Super 32, Fargo and others,” said Phaturos. “I wrestled in Arizona and we traveled a lot. I’m used to it.”

You won’t find Phaturos out in the hallway, checking results. He barely even knows his opponents.

“I don’t really check out the brackets,” Phaturos said. “I like to focus on what I can do, get to my attacks, my ties.”

Other top seeds for the tournament are Branden Wentzel, a sophomore from Montoursville, at 106 pounds; Sophomore Vincent Kilkeary of Latrobe at 113 pounds; freshman Gibson Mason of Bishop McCort at 120; senior Dylan Chappell of Seneca Valley at 132 pounds; senior Ian Oswalt of Burrell at 138 pounds; senior Wyatt Henson of Waynesburg at 145 pounds; senior Alejandro Herrera-Rondon of Seneca Valley at 152 pounds; senior AJ Corrado of Burrell at 160; senior Luca Augustine of Waynesburg at 172 pounds; junior Mac Stout of Mt. Lebanon at 189; junior Nick Feldman of Malvern Prep at 215 and junior Cole Deery of Malvern Prep at heavyweight.

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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