Cinderella Hempfield heads into WPIAL team wrestling semifinals with confidence

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Friday, February 3, 2023 | 5:55 PM


When the Canon-McMillan public address announcer was announcing WPIAL Class 3A team championship scores from other sites Wednesday, fans took notice of two finals.

Hempfield 33, Trinity 33, Hempfield wins by criteria. And Hempfield 32, Butler 31.”

The scores drew some oohs and aahs.

Hempfield wrestling coach Vince DeAugustine said he wasn’t shocked with the results because he saw the improvement his team has made during the season.

“They were the two most exciting matches I’ve been a part of,” DeAugustine said. “All 13 wrestlers did their jobs in both matches by saving points or earning points. It was quite an effort.”

Hempfield used a key 7-1 victory by junior Eli Carr against Trinity’s Blake Reihner, who was ranked No. 1, in the first match. It was the first time Carr beat Reihner.

The Spartans lost by 12 points to Butler on Dec. 7 at the Kiski Duals, but DeAugustine was able to make a few adjustments and different wrestlers came up big.

Now the Spartans get a chance to reverse another loss. The Spartans face No. 2 Canon-McMillan (12-2) in the semifinals at 10 a.m. Saturday at Peters Township. The Big Macs defeated the Spartans, 40-24, on Dec. 22 in a nonsection match.

No. 1 Waynesburg (12-2) faces No. 4 Connellsville (14-4) in the other semifinal. Connellsville defeated Waynesburg, 36-33, on Dec. 22. Waynesburg defeated Connellsville, 35-18, in the 2022 finals.

“The way we wrestled against Connellsville, the team gained confidence,” DeAugustine said. “Wrestling is an individual sport, and my concern is seeing improvement. The guys are buying into what we’re teaching them.

“We have to find a way to turn around 16 points. Both teams are different. It should be a good match.”

This is the 10th time the Spartans have reached the semifinals. Hempfield was a WPIAL champion in 2007.

Canon-McMillan has won nine WPIAL titles.

“We’re ready to compete,” DeAugustine said. “Win or lose, I just want them to go out and have fun competing. It’s just another opportunity to compete against some great programs.”

Canon-McMillan coach Brian Krenzelak said he wasn’t totally surprised that Hempfield won.

“We wrestled them in December, and they are well coached,” Krenzelak said. “We’re going to face a tough challenge.”

Canon-McMillan had an easy time Wednesday defeating Penn-Trafford and Norwin.

Waynesburg advanced by defeating Fox Chapel and Plum, while Connellsville handled challenges from Franklin Regional and West Allegheny.

The top three teams advance to the PIAA tournament team beginning Feb. 9 at Hershey. The third-place team, however, must defeat City League champion Taylor Allderdice on Monday to advance.

In Class 2A semifinals at Chartiers-Houston, No. 2 Quaker Valley and No. 3 Burrell collide in the semifinals at noon. The teams met in the 2022 finals with Quaker Valley defeating Burrell, 30-28, ending the Bucs’ 15-year reign as champions.

The other semifinal has No. 1 Burgettstown facing No. 5 Frazier, which is making its first trip to the semifinals.

The four semifinalists in Class 2A have qualified for the PIAA team tournament. The top two teams advance to Hershey on Feb. 9, while the third- and fourth-place teams need a win in a preliminary round match Monday to advance.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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