After strong start, Kiski Area sends all 5 qualifiers to PIAA wrestling quarterfinals

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Thursday, March 8, 2018 | 9:12 PM


HERSHEY — Nick Delp didn't want to ruin Kiski Area's dinner plans.

After watching three of his teammates win their first-round matchups back-to-back-to-back on the opening day of the PIAA Class AAA individual championships Thursday night at Giant Center, the Cavaliers' sophomore 160-pounder knew he had to keep the ball rolling with a victory of his own or face the consequences of dropping to the consolation bracket.

Not to worry. Delp did his part to get the team to dinner at Dafnos — an area Italian restaurant and frequent Kiski Area dining spot at the state team and individual tournaments — with a 2-0 victory in his first-round match against Spring Grove's Anthony Hinson.

“I just didn't want to be the only guy to lose and make everybody have to wait here until 8:15,” said Delp, whose victory followed those by senior Noah Levett (138 pounds), junior Cam Connor (145) and Jack Blumer (152). “All we wanted to do after this was eat. I just wanted to win real bad for those guys.”

Senior heavyweight Isaac Reid increased Kiski Area's quarterfinal reservation to five with his victory, as all of the Cavaliers' PIAA qualifiers stayed unbeaten through the first round of the three-day, double-elimination tournament.

“Our team's doing very well,” Reid said. “My teammates, I couldn't be more proud of them, especially Jack — Jack's on fire. I'm just thankful that I'm part of such a great program. I give a lot of credit to the coaches. We wouldn't be in the situation without their help, their knowledge and their enthusiasm for the sport.”

While Reid anchors Kiski's lineup, the middleweights — known as “Death Row” or “Murderers' Row,” depending on whom you ask — spearheaded the Cavaliers to their second consecutive WPIAL team title and PIAA runner-up finish.

The fearsome foursome of Levett, Connor, Blumer and Delp are proving they can thrive in the individual postseason, as well. Levett, Connor and Blumer won WPIAL titles last week along with Reid and came out strong again Thursday.

“We always look forward to coming one after the other,” Connor said. “It's always fun watching Noah, and Jack and Nick are also really fun to watch. We feed off each other.”

Levett, a two-time state medalist, began Kiski Area's run with a major decision over Delaware Valley's Mike McKinney, attacking relentlessly during the first two periods.

Connor, making his second consecutive appearance at the individual championships, posted an 8-1 decision over Garden Spot's Connor Finkey, continuing his recent run of strong defensive work. Blumer and Delp, in their PIAA individual debuts, won hard-fought decisions at 152 and 160.

“That first match is always killer. That's what I hear,” said Blumer, who beat Muhlenberg's Stefahn Mayo, 3-2. “I went out there (and) I was really nervous (for) my first experience here. I didn't know what to expect. The kid was tough. I couldn't finish any shots. It was close at the end.”

Delp said he was nervous for his match but fed off the crowd.

“All the energy here is pretty crazy, even for the first couple rounds,” Delp said. “It's probably a little more than (I expected). It's pretty awesome, though.”

Reid ended Kiski Area's perfect night with a 1-minute pin of Garnet Valley's Tommy Mahoney.

The Cavaliers ranked first in the overall team standings heading into the second day of the tournament Friday, which resumes with quarterfinals and second-round consolations at 2:15 p.m.

And the five quarterfinalists have their eyes on some hardware; Matt McCutcheon (2012) is Kiski Area's lone PIAA champion.

“It's nothing that's not possible,” Levett said. “If we can all bring home some medals, that would be awesome.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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