5 things to watch at the WPIAL Class AAA wrestling championships

Thursday, February 27, 2020 | 5:56 PM

The Class AAA WPIAL individual championships/PIAA Southwest Regional will begin Friday at Canon-McMillan.

Action begins at 5 p.m. and resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday. The semifinals are 11:30 a.m. Saturday and finals are slated for 5 p.m.

The top five wrestlers from each of the four WPIAL sections will battle for the right to advance to Hershey.

The top four finishers in each of 14 weight classes move on to the PIAA championship on March 5-7 at Giant Center.

Here are five things to watch for this weekend.

1. Can Phipps and Hillegas join elite group?

Senior Thayne Lawrence of Class AA Frazier became the 29th wrestler to become a four-time WPIAL champion on Feb. 15. Norwin senior Kurtis Phipps and North Hills senior Sam Hillegas could be the 30th and 31st wrestlers to join the group. It won’t be easy. There are obstacles for both. Phipps (126 pounds) must get through Franklin Regional sophomore Finn Solomon and Waynesburg freshman Rocco Welsh, and Hillegas (138) has Waynesburg junior Wyatt Henson in his weight class.

2. Going for three

Kiski Area senior Jack Blumer looks to become the next three-time champion in WPIAL history. He could join a trio of Class AA wrestlers who accomplished the feat two weeks ago: Burrell junior Ian Oswalt, Derry junior Ty Cymmerman and Freedom junior Trent Schultheis. There are 81 three-time champions.

3. Other returning champions

There are eight returning WPIAL Class AAA champions in the field. Along with Phipps, Hillegas and Blumer are sophomore Tyler Chappell (106), junior Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (132) and junior Antonio Amelio (145) of Seneca Valley, Canon-McMillan senior Gerrit Nijenhuis (170) and Mt. Lebanon senior Luke Stout (195).

4. Spartan duo looking for gold

Hempfield juniors Tyler Linsenbigler (145) and Isaiah Vance, a heavyweight, will be looking to bring home gold for the first time. Both are two-time PIAA qualifiers. Linsenbigler finished third in 2018 and second in ‘19 at 138 pounds in the WPIAL. Vance is a two-time WPIAL third-place finisher. Both finished fourth in the state last year.

5. Young guns

There are numerous freshmen to keep an eye on this weekend.

At 106, there are West Allegheny’s Ty Watters (14-0), Waynesburg’s Mac Church (38-5) and Latrobe’s Vincent Kilkeary (23-6).

At 113, there is West Allegheny’s Nico Taddy (31-5). At 120, watch Latrobe’s Nathan Roth (31-3) and Connellsville’s Jace Ross (20-9).

At 126, there are Welsh (34-6) and Chartiers Valley’s Dylan Evans (30-6). North Allegheny’s Grant MacKay (35-8) is at 152.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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