Norwin freshman Alteri upsets No. 2-seeded Gaul to highlight 1st day of WCCA wrestling tournament
By: Paul Schofield
Friday, January 5, 2018 | 11:50 PM
The opening night of the Westmoreland County Coaches Association wrestling tournament always seems have a surprise winner.
And the 65th annual championship had its shocker.
But Norwin freshman John Alteri didn't consider his victory over No. 2 Bryan Gaul of Burrell in the 126-pound quarterfinals Friday at Norwin an upset.
“I've wrestled him multiple times over the years and beaten him at different tournaments, so I was confident that I'd win,” said Alteri, who was seeded seventh.
Alteri jumped out to a big lead in the second period, almost made a costly mistake, but held on for a 7-5 victory over Gaul, a PIAA qualifier last season.
Alteri (11-6) built a 7-0 lead but got sloppy late in the second period and gave up a five-point move and nearly got pinned.
“I didn't have a good grasp on him and should have bailed out earlier,” Alteri said. “I was trying to hang on, and it almost cost me.”
After avoiding the pin, Alteri didn't allow Gaul any more points and moved into the 11 a.m. semifinals against Hempfield's Jared Brean.
Alteri pinned Greensburg Salem's Colt Rubrecht in the opening round.
“He got a little loose with his grasp, and the kid stepped over him,” Norwin coach Brandon Miller said of Alteri. “I'm not surprised with the win. He's been close in a couple matches.”
Alteri was one of three Norwin wrestlers to reach the finals. He joins Kurtis Phipps (106) and Ryan Weinzen (170).
“My mindset is winning the semifinal match and then winning the title,” Alteri said. “I can't worry about that mistake. I have to move on.”
It was conditioning that helped Mt. Pleasant senior Zack Charlesworth earn his first county medal. Any wrestler to reach the semifinals is guaranteed a medal.
Charlesworth was down 3-0 heading into the third period in his match against Belle Vernon's Derek Cesovski, but rallied for a 6-4 victory at 195. He will face No. 1 seed Danny Starr of Kiski Area.
“I could feel (Cesovski) getting tired,” Charlesworth said. “So, I kept after him. Coach (Zack Sheridan) has a great conditioning program, and I'd match it against any team. As soon as I took neutral, I knew he couldn't stop me.”
Charlesworth got a takedown to make it 3-2, allowed an escape and then got a takedown after he received a penalty point for a 5-4 lead.
“It was the best match I've ever seen him wrestle,” Sheridan said.
Mt. Pleasant advanced three wrestlers to the semifinals. Joining Charlesworth are Doug Bittner (113) and Chad Vokes (285).
Kiski Area advanced nine wrestlers to the semifinals and leads Hempfield, 82.5 to 67.5, for the top spot in the team standings.
Hempfield advanced seven wrestlers, including Kyle Burkholder (113), Luke Kemerer (145) and freshmen Ty Linsenbigler (138) and Isaiah Vance (285).
Belle Vernon was third with 53.5 points and advanced six to the semifinals. It could have been eight semifinalists but two Leopard wrestlers could not hold onto third-period leads.
Burrell was fourth followed by Greensburg Salem.
Kemerer, Camacho and Southmoreland's Tyler Griffiths are after their third county titles. Looking for their second titles are Penn-Trafford's Job Chishko, Belle Vernon's Zach Hartman and Darren Miller and Starr of Kiski Area.
The third- and fifth-place matches are scheduled for 4:30 p.m., the Parade of Champions at 6 p.m. and the finals at 6:30.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.