Name: Wyatt Henson
Henson’s week: Four impressive victories on the wrestling mat made Henson a WPIAL Class AAA champion Saturday at Canon-McMillan High School.
Henson came into the tournament as the second seed behind two-time state champion Sam Hillegas of North Hills
Henson opened with a 23-8 technical fall over Kameron Grassi of Knoch and followed it with another tech fall, 25-10, over Micah Finley of Trinity that put him in the semifinals.
Henson was pressed in the semifinal by Chanz Shearer of Seneca Valley but still came away with an 8-6 decision.
His match against Hillegas, who won gold medals in his freshman and sophomore seasons and took bronze last year, was a thing of beauty.
Henson kept Hillegas off balance with shots into Hillegas’ legs and came away with a gutsy, hard-fought, 4-3 victory.
“My No. 1 offense is (movement),” Henson said. “I work on my conditioning because that’s what is most important to me. As long as I get a win, I’m happy with myself. There is still some stuff I have to work on.”
Henson was the first WPIAL wrestler to beat Hillegas in his varsity career. One loss came against Julian Chlebove of Northampton, 2-1, in last year’s state semifinal at 132 pounds. The other at Powerade in December, 5-3, against Beau Bartlett of Wyoming Seminary.
The loss to Chlebove stung because it cost Hillegas a possible gold medal, an opportunity Henson is looking forward to this weekend.
“Hershey is awesome with its huge crowds,” Henson said. “I’m going out there and have fun.”
Searching for state gold: Henson and his brother, Jackson, wrestled at Waynesburg two years ago but moved to Missouri after their father Sammy lost his job as wrestling coach at West Virginia University.
Henson won a state title while in Missouri before the family moved back to Waynesburg. Sammy is working camps and Jackson is competing in mixed martial arts.
Wyatt Henson finished fifth at 138 pounds at the PIAA tournament as a freshman. He hopes a return trip to Hershey ends in a better result. Those chances increased with his win over Hillegas.
If Henson had lost to Hillegas and the seeding process shook out the same way, Henson would have to wrestle Dashawn Farber of Nazareth in the quarterfinals. Farber was a PIAA runner-up last season.
Instead, Henson’s first two opponents could have records with double digits in losses.
Compiled by staff writer Joe Tuscano.