HERSHEY – He never let them forget about it, even when the schedule chamged.

More than anything, head coach Joe Throckmorton had Waynesburg High School pointed in the right direction.

Right to the team tile in the individual Class AAA tournament.

Unlike some teams – are you listening Seneca Valley? – the team tournament was always high on his bucket lists.

While the Raiders were cleaning up in the Giant Center on Saturday, winning three state individual titles and finishing second in two others weight classes, Throckmorton would always bring the team title up in conversations.

He knew Waynesburg could accomplish something it had never done before in the sport and he wanted to win both titles. The PIAA gives one out at the individual tournament and the team portion of the season. Waynesburg is halfway home, blowing away the field and nearly doubling the score of the second- and third-place teams.

The PIAA Team Tournament – the real one – begins Monday and ends Saturday, March 27 at Cumberland Valley High School.

Don’t bet against Waynesburg.

  • A big thumbs up to the PIAA for its COVID-19 preparations. I left the Giant Center with the cleanest hands in Pennsylvania. There was 6-foot separation in the stands, and among the media, and most wore masks for their own protection. I would put the amount at 90 percent.

Many wrestlers wore masks on the mat and all did off it. There might have been a little more than 1,000 fans.

It was those type of precautions that made wrestling safer than basketball this season.

  • Now to the negative. The officiating was just mediocre and it can’t be that way, not in the state tournament. It has to be either good or great at the state tournament. One match in particular was atrociously refereed. In the 132-pound semifinals, top-seeded Zach Jacaruso did not take a step forward in the final 34 seconds against Vince Kilkeary, a returning state champion from Latrobe. Jacaruso was not called for stalling and won a 3-2 decision.

Jacaruso was called for stalling twice in the match, but the particular referee – who shall go nameless here – let Jacaruso back up for 34 seconds without getting hit for stalling and giving another point to Kilkeary, which would have sent the match to overtime.

Some referees have told me over the years they don’t want to determine the outcome of a match with stalling calls. But that’s exactly what this nameless referee did. He allowed Jacaruso to stall and win the match.

  • The saga of Chris Vargo, a freshman from Bentworth, was pretty typical for a first-time participant in the state tournament. He was uncharacteristically soft for his first match against Gavin Bradley of Athens but changed gears after that and looked like a different wrestler in finishing third at 113 pounds.

Most coaches say there is no better learning process in this tournament than experience. And in Vargo’s case, they are right.

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at jtuscano@observer-reporter.com

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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