Connellsville’s Jared Keslar captures 4th section wrestling title, Hempfield’s Briar Priest gets 3rd

Saturday, February 26, 2022 | 8:04 PM

Winning section titles aren’t as easy as you think, especially four of them.

Connellsville senior Jared Keslar became the school’s seventh wrestler to achieve that goal, and Hempfield senior Briar Priest earned his third Saturday at the WPIAL Class 3A Section 2 tournament at Hempfield.

Both Pitt recruits feel winning section titles help them prepare for the WPIAL Class 3A and PIAA individual championships the next two weeks.

Keslar won his fourth by defeating Norwin senior Chase Kranitz, 5-2, for the 160-pound title, and Priest blanked Connellsville freshman Lonzy Vielma, 4-0, to win the 138 title.

Keslar had to be patient against Kranitz, who didn’t want to engage early. After Kranitz escaped in the second period for a 1-0 lead, Keslar finally secured a takedown with 11 seconds for a 2-1 lead.

He then got an escape and a second takedown for a 5-1 lead.

“I’m sure Chase will be one of the wrestlers I’ll have to beat next week,” Keslar said. “Winning the section title again in important, especially since I’m the seventh wrestler to win it four times.

“I’ve wrestled tough wrestlers all season. I just have to go out and do what I do.”

Keslar is ranked second in the state.

Priest, a returning PIAA champion, used a first-period takedown and a second-period reversal to beat a tough freshman.

“I feel winning a section title is important,” Priest said. “It’s great to win the section again. Facing Lonzy will help me next week. He’ll still probably be seeded second.”

Priest said he’s ready to defend his PIAA title. He said the season has been different because opponents are wrestling differently.

“I feel good,” Priest said. “Losing to Nate (Roth) in mid-January was a good thing. It taught me to come in with a gameplan. I didn’t the first time we met.”

Thomas Jefferson senior Brian Finnerty and Belle Vernon senior Cole Weightman squared off in the 215-pound final. Both were chasing their third section titles. The weight class in Section 2 had six wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in the state.

Finnerty used a reversal with 25 seconds left to secure a 2-1 victory. It was the first time since coming back from surgery that Weightman wrestled a complete six minutes.

“I’m not that disappointed,” Weightman said. “I made a little mistake, and it cost me. I still have WPIALs and states (PIAA) left.

“I’m coming off surgery and I’m still a little sore, but I’m looking forward to next week. I have another week to train and get in better shape.”

Winning their second section titles were Latrobe junior Vinny Kilkeary, Connellsville senior Chas Ozias, Hempfield junior Lucas Kapusta, Belle Vernon senior Logan Hoffman and Greensburg Salem senior Billy McChesney.

Kilkeary defeated Norwin senior Luke Passarelli, 11-1, in the 120 final; Ozias toppled Hempfield sophomore Eli Carr, 10-5, at 132; Kapusta pinned Norwin sophomore Nathan Campbell at 145; Hoffman pinned Albert Gallatin sophomore James Standish at 172; and McChesney pinned Albert Gallatin senior Shawn Loring at heavyweight.

Others winning were Latrobe freshman Luke Willochell (106) and Jack Pletcher (152), Connellsville freshman Evan Petrovich (113) and senior George Shultz (189) and Thomas Jefferson freshman Maddox Shaw (126).

Willochell pinned Norwin freshman Gannon Conboy; Petrovich won by forfeit at 113; Shaw edged Hempfield junior Ethan Lebin, 1-0, in ultimate tiebreaker; and Pletcher edged Connellsville junior Ethan Ansell.

The top five wrestlers in each weight class advanced to the WPIAL championships March 4 and 5 at Canon-McMillan.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .


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