Derry’s DeLuca eyes spot among Trojans’ elite wrestlers
By: Paul Schofield
Tuesday, January 9, 2018 | 11:21 PM
Hanging on the wall in the Derry wrestling room are singlets of five Trojans wrestlers who won state titles.
It's a constant reminder for the wrestlers in the room of the program's deep tradition.
Junior Dom DeLuca hopes his singlet soon will hang alongside those of Micky Phillippi, Jim Gulibon, Troy Dolan, Mike May and Travis Shaffer.
DeLuca (22-2, 90-20) is the Tribune-Review's No. 1-ranked wrestler in WPIAL Class AA at 220 pounds. He also is ranked No. 1 in the state by Pa Power Wrestling and Off the Mat.
Both of his losses came at the prestigious Powerade tournament.
“He's having a great season, and we went to Powerade for a reason, to get him that competition at the level,” Derry coach Mike Weinell said. “If he wants to be No. 1 in the state at the end of the season, he needs to wrestle that caliber of wrestler.
“He did well. He wrestled some tough matches. He learned where he needs to be, and I told him if he wanted to be at that level, that's the physical part you need to be.”
After a fourth-place finish at Powerade, DeLuca bounced back to win his first Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament title Saturday.
He beat Southmoreland junior Ryan Mauro in the finals.
“So far, so good,” DeLuca said. “I would have liked to finish higher at Powerade, but it's a tough tournament, one of the toughest in the country. I'm just trying to get better every day.”
DeLuca, who also played linebacker, tight end and running back for the football team, said he would like to see more football players wrestling.
“It you look at NFL linemen, a lot wrestled,” he said. “It helps them with their footwork. We try to get as many linemen out that we can here.”
DeLuca finished strong his sophomore season with a record of 37-8. He placed third in the WPIAL at 182 pounds, second at the PIAA Southwest Regional and third in the state.
Along the way, he started beating opponents who previously had defeated him, including Fort LeBoeuf's Julian Gorring, 2-0 in an ultimate tiebreaker. Gorring defeated DeLuca in the Pennsylvania Junior Wrestling finals in 2015.
The Trojans junior said he plans on staying at 220 pounds all season. That allows him to eat well and lift weights to get stronger.
DeLuca said he is not worried about any other wrestler in the state, though he mentioned Muncy's Hunter Poust and Brookville's Tyler Cook as two of the best wrestlers in his weight class.
“I'm more focused on myself and getting better,” DeLuca said. “I'm not looking at who is there.
“I'm just trying to get bigger, be more offensive and having fun.”
DeLuca said his strong finish at the at last year's state tournament helped his confidence. He felt he surprised some people with where he placed.
“Not many thought I could place as high as I did,” DeLuca said. “It just gave me confidence to say, ‘Hey, I can wrestle with whoever steps on the mat.' Beating that kid for third place was huge.”
If he needs a little incentive about being a state champion, all he has to do is look at the wrestling room wall for a reminder.