After a down year, Kiski Area wrestling looking to prove it belongs among Class AAA elite

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020 | 7:35 PM


The Kiski Area wrestling team might have fallen short in many areas last season, and the Cavaliers might have lost a ton of talent, but don’t expect them to be anything short of motivated entering a season like no other.

They might be battling a pandemic while battling their opponents, and despite losing to Hempfield in the section and team tournament last year, the Cavaliers are out to prove they still belong the top teams in WPIAL Class AAA.

“We always seem to find a way to get the best people on the mat, and things tend to come together for us,” Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said. “I’m not sure if covid is going to let us be ourselves this year or not.”

Kiski Area won’t be short on talent as Heater has a few returners who were on the brink of greatness last season. Seniors Sammy Starr and Brayden Roscosky had more than 30 wins, placed in the top three at the WPIAL tournament and qualified for the PIAA tournament.

Starr and Roscosky are the only two seniors on the team. After bonding last season and through the offseason as practice partners, they are ready to take on leadership roles and pass on the expectations of the Kiski Area program.

“We’re the lone seniors this year, so it is motivation to step up and lead a younger team,” Starr said. “It’s a little bit sad at times to see guys like (Nick) Delp, (Jack) Blumer, and even two years ago Darren (Miller) go, but it’s also exciting to be like, ‘Now, I am now those guys, and I have this responsibility to pass that on.’ ”

Along with Starr and Roscosky, the Cavaliers also have heavyweight Stone Joseph and junior Enzo Morlacci returning this season. Both dealt with injuries and sicknesses last year and got a limited number of matches.

Joseph only wrestled until the end of December before suffering a season-ending injury at the Powerade tournament. He still had a 16-4 record and tallied eight pins. Through the first two years of his varsity career, he’s been on a mission to prove that he belongs.

“I just want to prove myself a little bit more,” Joseph said. “I started out pretty good last year before I blew my elbow out, so I kind of want to make a statement this year since I wasn’t able to last year.”

Morlacci is in somewhat of the same boat. He was in and out of the lineup last year with health issues and then had an interesting offseason as well. He originally committed to Wyoming Seminary, a private high school in northeastern Pennsylvania, but the pandemic brought him back to Kiski Area. He also committed to Lehigh University.

“I haven’t been happier to be back here, like, ever,” Morlacci said. “Honestly, covid for me, it was a great eye-opener, because for me, all I need is myself, a few practice partners. Personally, I’m feeling good.”

The Cavaliers will still have holes to fill, though, with wrestlers like Jack Dilts and Antonio Giordano not coming out this season. But there are a few other wrestlers on the roster who could make big strides.

Sophomore Ryan Klingensmith and juniors Ethan Connor and Carter Dilts are two wrestlers who could make an impact after seeing varsity time last season. This year is going to be all about everyone contributing to the cause.

“It’s going to be how quickly they transition from what they learned as a freshman and sophomores into what they are and hopefully can be this year,” Heater said. “With a couple of kids coming off the junior high team, sometimes they come in, and they get a spark underneath them, and they become a pretty good wrestler pretty quick, and we have a different kid we weren’t sure we were going to have.”

Fox Chapel (9-9, 2-3)

The Foxes graduated a special group of seniors but return a few wrestlers who could make an impact.

Juniors Ray Worsen (120) and Jordan White (285) both had winning records and fifth-place finishes in their section tournament last year. Coach Michael Frank said he is looking for both to take an extra step.

Frank said seniors Thirapat Kanokangkoon (113) and Jose Morales (126) could also take on leadership roles.

Highlands (13-5, 4-1)

After winter sports were approved to proceed earlier this week, the Golden Rams are moving up to Class AAA just a year after having one of their best seasons in recent history.

Coach Grant Walters returns plenty of talent. After going 30-8 last season, junior Jrake Burford (132) returns alongside seniors Jeremiah Nelson (285) and Jeremiah Saunders (220) as well as junior Brock White (160).

The Randolph brothers, Bryan (120) and Aaron, a freshman, should also play a vital role in Highlands’ success.

Plum (2-5, 1-4)

The Mustangs had four wrestlers with a winning record last season and two who finished at .500 or just below it. Four of those wrestlers will return this season.

Junior Vincent Citrano (113) will lead the pack after going 27-4 with eight pins and 11 technical falls. After a sophomore year where he went 16-14 with 11 pins, Paul McClintock (120) could also be another bright spot for the Mustangs.

Sophomore Andrew Claassen and junior Dominic Sheffo showed promise last season as well. Claassen (145) went 16-17 with 10 pins. Sheffo (113) wrestled behind Citrano last season but still earned a record of 8-8.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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