A-K Valley Class 3A wrestling preview: Led by Lehigh recruit, Kiski Area reloads

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Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | 5:50 PM


The Kiski Area wrestling team had some youth in its lineup last year, but it still was able to win the Section 1-3A title.

The Cavaliers did lose a couple of key wrestlers to graduation in state medalists Sammy Starr and Braden Roscosky but have plenty of returners that are more seasoned and ready to defend the section championship as well as be a factor at WPIALs and beyond.

“Last year we had a lot of inexperience and learning how to wrestle at this level,” Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said. “Anytime you have new guys, there’s a level change from junior high to varsity and then to college. Anybody will tell you with the speed, strength and skill of the matches, it takes a little time to get adjusted to that.”

Kiski Area was one of five teams to opt out of last year’s WPIAL team tournament due to the pandemic.

The Cavaliers lost two more wrestlers from last year’s lineup with Jackson Sandor (106 pounds) transferring to Kiski Prep and Antonio Giordano, a three-year starter, deciding not to wrestle his senior year. They added Logan Bechtold, a transfer from Burrell, and Donavin Harbison, who is out for the team after not wrestling last year.

The returners are led by 160-pound senior Enzo Morlacci.

Morlacci, a Lehigh commit, went 23-3 last year and is 69-24 for his career. He finished fourth at WPIALs last year, narrowly missing a chance to move on to the Class 3A super regional.

He’ll look to get to states in his final season.

“Enzo knows where he’s going to college and the weight he’s starting out at is closer to what he’s wrestling this year than any other year he’s been with us,” Heater said. “He’s been coming into the season heavier than what he’s going to wrestle at in the past, so he was cutting weight hard. I feel like this year he’ll be more at peace and be able to cut it loose and wrestle and have fun. That’s a good way for him to go through his senior year.”

Ryan Klingensmith, a junior, returns at 126 after going 25-5 last year, and senior Carter Dilts is back at 215. Stone Joseph returns at heavyweight after an injury plagued junior season. Jack Crider, a junior, went 10-11 at 285 in Joseph’s absence. Braden Miller (145) and Evan Artman (170) also return.

Freshman Mark Gray (152) was a junior high state champ as a seventh grader but hasn’t wrestled much since due to injury.

The Cavaliers have a female wrestler, Bella DeVito, who will likely make some appearances in the lineup during section matches. DeVito placed fourth last year at the PIAA girls wrestling championships.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how she does this year,” Heater said. “There’s more girls events now. Like when we wrestle the WCCA tournament, there’s an open girls tournament at the Winter Mayhem at IUP, so we’re going to enter her there.

North Allegheny also has a girls open and Powerade will have an open girls tournament, so there will be opportunities for her. It takes a lot of courage for girls to enter a sport that has been dominated by guys, and I give her a lot of credit because she works hard every day. She’s very coachable, and it’s great having her in our room.”

Fox Chapel

The Foxes return a trio of wrestlers who finished fourth at sectionals last year in seniors Ray Worsen (126), Henry Byrne (113) and sophomore Owen Ellermeyer (106). Ellermeyer and Worsen tied with a team-high 14 wins. Ellermeyer finished 14-7, Worsen was 14-10, and sophomore Alexander Kauffman (132) was 13-6.

Aside from Byrne and Worsen, there are four other seniors on the roster in Brendan Kost, Jake Patterson, James Trageser and Jordan White. The Foxes have 15 freshmen listed on their roster.

Highlands

Jrake Burford is entering his final season with the Golden Rams coming off a 21-6 campaign in which he placed second at 138 in Section 1 and advanced to the WPIAL tournament. Burford is 76-25 for his career.

Bryan Randolph returns after a 13-8 season in which he mainly wrestled at 132, and fellow senior Brock White was 15-5 last year. Other returners include juniors Tyler Bender and Ashton Hatajik and sophomores Angelo Markey, Riley Middleby and Keaton Wike.

Plum

The Mustangs return Antonino Walker, who had a standout freshman season last year, and senior Vince Citrano, who is 73-17 for his career.

Walker won Section 1-3A at 106 and made the WPIAL final, where he lost to Seneca Valley’s Tyler Chappell, 5-2. He advanced to the Class 3A super regional at Altoona, where he lost in the quarterfinals and finished the season with a 22-4 record.

Citrano was the Section 1-3A runner-up last year at 126 and lost in the WPIAL quarterfinals, finishing the season at 16-7. He’ll be aiming to eclipse 100 wins for his career and earn a fourth consecutive WPIAL tournament appearance.

Junior Andrew Classen and sophomores Jack Tongel, Sam Snyder and Carson Yocca return to the lineup. Frankie Macioce is back after missing last season due to injury, and junior Dakoda Pisano is a transfer from Fox Chapel.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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