Coach optimistic after Franklin Regional sends 3 wrestlers to states
Saturday, March 11, 2023 | 11:01 AM
Franklin Regional wrestling coach Matt Lebe said he didn’t know how many Panthers would qualify for the PIAA individual tournament this year.
His best guess was between one and five. It all depended on matchups.
Well, Lebe headed to Hershey with three wrestlers — junior Tyler Kapusta (114 pounds), senior Gavyn Beck (160) and junior Juliano Marion (189) — right in the middle of his projections.
Nate Stone (139) and Roman Colangelo (152) just missed qualifying. Stone lost in the blood round at the WPIAL tournament and settled for a fifth-place finish.
“The tournament was really tough this season,” Lebe said. “It all depended on who wrestled the best. Nate was close to qualifying. The other three that qualified worked hard.”
Kapusta reached the finals at 114, but fell to two-time WPIAL champion Luke Willochell of Latrobe, 5-4.
It was the third time the two had met this season, and Willochell has won all three. This one was a lot closer.
“He seemed to have my number,” Willochell said. “He’s a tough wrestler.”
Kapusta’s biggest win came in the semifinals, where he reversed a loss to Seneca Valley’s Connor Smith, taking a 605 victory. Kapusta lost to Smith at the Powerade tournament.
The winning and tying point came on penalty stalling calls when Smith was just holding on.
Beck and Marion finished third.
Beck was beaten by West Allegheny junior and eventual champion Shawn Taylor, 7-3 in the semifinals. He bounced back to blank Baldwin’s Keith Mincin, 3-0, in the blood round and then shut out North Allegheny’s Adam Rohan, 7-0, for third place.
Marion, who placed at states in 2022, fell to Pine-Richland’s Vaughn Spencer, 8-0, in the semifinals, but he came back to edge Kiski Area freshman Cooper Roscosky, 1-0, in the blood round and then won by default against Ringgold’s Jake Conroy, who was slammed and injured in his blood-round match against Canon-McMillan senior Gabriel Stafford.
“I knew Juliano would have a tough match against Spencer,” Lebe said. “I didn’t know how good he was. He was pretty good.”
And while Lebe was watching his wrestlers warm up at the Giant Center on March 8, he was already thinking about the future.
“We have a lot of good wrestlers in the program,” Lebe said. “The junior high team was really good. I can see us close to the top next season and beyond.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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