Wyatt Henson (copy)

Eleanor Bailey/The Almanac

Wyatt Henson of Waynesburg, top, will be trying to repeat as a PIAA champion Saturday.

Waynesburg set a school record with five medal winners at last year’s PIAA Class 3A Wrestling Tournament.

That record will be broken Saturday at the Giant Center in Hershey as the Raiders have six entries in the one-day tournament, which has been limited to eight participants in each weight class because of COVID-19 concerns.

All eight participants will receive a medal and earn placewinner status as consolations for third-place, fifth-place, and seventh-place will be held, along with the championship matches.

The tournament will be wrestled in four sessions to limit the number of participants on the floor. Weight classes from 106 to 138 will be held in sessions 1 and 3, and weight classes 145 to 285 will be in sessions 2 and 4. Session 1 will begin at 8:30 a.m., session 2 at 12:30 p.m., session 3 at 4 p.m., and session 4 at 7 p.m.

With six participants, Waynesburg will be one of the teams vying for the team title.

“Bethlehem Catholic has seven qualifiers and we have six,” said Waynesburg coach Joe Throckmorton, referring to the defending team champion. “I think it’s going to come down to us for the team title. Our goal is to win both team titles, at the individual tournament and the team tournament in a couple weeks.

The only other schools with four or more entries are: Nazareth (5), Northampton (4), and Hempfield (4).

“We will need all six kids to contribute and pick up bonus points whenever possible,” Throckmorton said.

Four weight classes feature wrestlers from both Waynesburg and Bethlehem Catholic. The most significant is at 152 pounds.

Raiders sophomore Rocco Welsh (24-4) placed second in the West Super Regional after defaulting to Seneca Valley senior Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (36-0), a two-time PIAA champion.

“Rocco tweaked his knee pretty bad in his semifinal match with (Erie Cathedral Prep’s) Paniro Johnson,” said Throckmorton. “They had wrestled three times this year already and could meet again at Hershey, so we didn’t want to take a chance.”

Welsh placed second at Hershey last year at 126. His opponent in the quarterfinals is Strath Haven’s Chase Barlow (21-2), the East Super Region third-place finisher.

Bethlehem Catholic’s entry at 152 is Evan Gleason (13-0), a senior who placed fifth at 138 last year. He will face Connellsville’s Jared Keslar (19-4) in the quarterfinals. If Welsh and Gleason win, they will meet in the semifinals.

Both teams have a returning placewinner at 120 pounds. Waynesburg sophomore Mac Church (25-2) was third at 106 and Bethlethem Catholic junior Dante Friniz (13-0) was fifth at 113. Both won Super Region titles, so they wouldn’t meet until the finals.

“I just have to do what I did last week,” said Church. “I have to keep training the way I have been and I will be fine.”

The other two weight classes that feature an entry from both schools are 132 and 138.

Waynesburg junior Cole Homet (27-2) is a two-time PIAA placewinner: seventh as a 120-pound freshman and fifth at 132 last year. Bethlehem Catholic sophomore Andrew Harmon (12-1) was second in their super region.

At 132, Bethlehem Catholic has a two-time state placewinner in senior Matt Mayer (11-1), who finished fourth twice at 106 and 113 in his first two years. Mayer placed second in the East Super Region. Waynesburg counters with junior Colton Stoneking (29-5), who is making his PIAA debut after placing fourth in the West Super Region.

Waynesburg’s other two entries are PIAA veterans, seniors Wyatt Henson (145), a returning state champion, and Luca Augustine (172).

Henson (29-1) placed fifth as a 120-pound freshman and first last year at 138. He also won a Missouri state title at 138 as a sophomore. He finished second at the West Super Regional after slamming Norwin senior John Alieri (30-3) in the title match.

“This will be my final appearance at Hershey and I want to make the most of it,” Henson said.

Augustine (18-1) placed sixth in the state at 160 last year and was second last weekend in the West Super Region after a 3-1 loss to Miffin County senior Trey Kibe (20-0), a returning PIAA champion.

“I just need to clean up my finishes,” Augustine said. “The shots are there. I just wasn’t able to finish them. I hope I get another chance to wrestle (Kibe) at Hershey.”

Bethlehem Catholic’s other three entries are: Tyler Kasak (12-0) at 126; Cael McIntyre (10-4) at 113; and Landon Muth (10-4) at 160.

Henson, Kibe, and Herrera-Rondon are among seven wrestlers who have won a PIAA title. The others are Latrobe’s Vinny Kilkeary (23-2), Franklin Regional’s Carter Dibert (33-0), Hempfield’s Ethan Berginc (31-5) and Selinsgrove’s Nate Schon (36-1).

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