WAYNESBURG – Waynesburg defended its top seed with victories over Latrobe and Pine-Richland on Wednesday in the WPIAL Class AAA Team Tournament at Waynesburg Central High School.
The Raiders (10-0) defeated the Wildcats, 49-15, in the quarterfinals, and topped the Rams, 56-18, in the first round. Waynesburg wrestles Hempfield on Saturday in the semifinals at Norwin High School. The first bout is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. The top four teams qualify for the state team tournament.
“They are all wrestling good and wrestling together,” Waynesburg coach Joe Throckmorton said. “The top four teams in the WPIAL are probably all in the top six or eight in the state and someone won’t qualify for the state team tournament. Hopefully, we will be up for the challenge against Hempfield. We have never had a team qualify for team states, so we hope to be the first to do it.”
The Raiders’ Noah Tustin (195), Colton Stoneking (138), Eli Makel (160) and Luca Augustine (170) won by fall in their match against Latrobe (6-3). Rocco Welsh (126) and Wyatt Henson (145) won by technical fall for the home team.
“There was no question that Waynesburg is a better team than us,” Latrobe coach Michael Ciotti said. “It was nice to find some positives out there today. We just got outgunned tonight.”
Waynesburg’s Cole Homet suffered a 9-2 setback to the Wildcats’ Gabe Willochell, who won a championship in the Powerade Tournament this past December. Homet is also highly regarded as he placed last year at states and is a two-time Powerade placewinner.
Teammates Hunter Shriver and Nate Stephenson dropped decisions at 120 and 152, but Throckmorton was proud of his grapplers that didn’t get up bonus points, which could be key when it comes to winning a district team title.
“We just told them how to score extra team points, and that’s going to be critical,” Throckmorton said. “We saw how critical it was against Canon-McMillan.”
The Raiders’ Darnell Johnson edged Corey Boerio, 5-2, at 182, and teammate Nate Jones decisioned Lucio Angelicchio, 10-3, at 113. Waynesburg’s Ryan Howard won by forfeit at 285.
Waynesburg’s Mac Church and Latrobe’s Vincent Kilkeary had a battle at 106 in a match that could occur again in the individual tournaments, as Chuch pulled out a 6-5 decision.
Church scored the opening takedown in the first period and held a 2-0 lead going into the second. He escaped for a 3-0 advantage, but Kilkeary scored a takedown of his own to cut the deficit to 3-2. Church increased his lead to 5-2 with a reversal before allowing an escape for a 5-3 advantage heading into the third. Kilkeary tied the bout at 5, but Church was able to escape and hang on for the one-point decision.
“Even though this is a team event, you have to always be prepared for good individuals on the other teams,” Throckmorton said.
“We definitely felt like we outwrestled the kid there at 106,” Ciotti said. “We look forward to that matchup again. Those two know each pretty well and practice together a lot in the summer, so we are excited for that.”
Jones (113), Stoneking (138), Makel (160), Augustine (170) and Johnson (182) won by fall against Pine-Richland (10-3), and Shriver (120) and Tustin (195) won by forfeit. Welsh (126) won another bout by technical fall, and Church scored a 7-1 decision over Anthony Ferraro at 106 and Howard earned a 7-3 decision. Henson edged Nathan Lukez, 7-5, at 145.
“Not that Wyatt overestimated his opponent, but every match in the WPIAL can be tough,” Throckmorton said. “I don’t know if he was feeling the best in the world either, but at the same time, he sucked it up, got the takedowns when he needed them, and that’s all that matters.”