Derry wrestling looks to make program history in WPIAL semifinals

Friday, February 2, 2018 | 7:03 PM

The Derry wrestling team could make history with a victory against Freedom in the WPIAL Class AA semifinals at noon Saturday at Chartiers-Houston.

A win would put the Trojans (20-1) in the 2 p.m. finals and, more importantly, earn them their first trip to Hershey for the PIAA team tournament, which begins Thursday.

A loss in the semifinals would send the Trojans into the WPIAL third-place match, where the winner would then make a long trip to District 10 on Monday needing a win to advance to Hershey. Derry finished third in 2017 and lost to Harbor Creek in the preliminary round.

Derry coach Mike Weinell said his team wants to avoid Monday's long trip.

“Our focus is on Freedom,” Weinell said Friday while preparing his team for the semifinal-round battle. “After seeing how close the Freedom victory was against Beth-Center (35-33) on Wednesday, our wrestlers gained some confidence. They think they can win.”

No. 3 seed Derry defeated Keystone Oaks and Elizabeth Forward on Wednesday to advance to the semifinals. No. 2 Freedom (12-4) defeated Quaker Valley and then Beth-Center.

“It's going to come down to matchups,” Weinell said. “Our better kids will face their better kids. That means we my need others to step up.

“Our core group has to come through. We have to prevent bonus points and get some. It's going to be a close match.”

Weinell will be counting on seniors Shawn Broadway (126 pounds) and Dom Jellison (145) as well as juniors Kace Sabedra (106), Jason Baker (132), Onreey Stewart (138), Trey Weinell (152), Hunter Hebenthal (160) and Dom DeLuca (220) and freshman Ty Cymmerson (120) to lead the way.

Freedom's top wrestlers are freshman Kenny Duschek (120), junior Z.J. Ward (126), junior Jake Pail (138), senior Chase Komara (152), senior Mike Muron (160) and junior Bryson Miller (195).

“The goal is to beat Freedom and go to Hershey,” Weinell said. “That would be great for the program to take the entire team to the Giant Center. We won't care who we draw there.”

Weinell acknowledged losing junior Colton Nemcheck to surgery and heavyweight Max Malis to injury hurts the team's depth.

Whoever wins the semifinal match will face the winner of No. 1 Burrell (8-5) and No. 4 McGuffey (14-5). The Bucs have won 11 consecutive titles.

“That's the program we'd like to become,” Weinell said of the Bucs. “They have depth in their program and kids willing to stick it out until their time. They always have a decent wrestler at each weight.

“We're only losing three seniors this season, and we have a couple junior high wrestlers coming up that will be able to compete. We're excited about the rest of this season and next. If we defeat Freedom, then we'll worry about Burrell. Right now it's Freedom who we need to beat.”

The Class AAA semifinals and finals will be down the road at Trinity High School in Washington. No. 1 Canon-McMillan (9-0) will face No. 4 Seneca Valley (14-1), and No. 2 Kiski Area (16-1) battles No. 3 Waynesburg (14-2).

Seneca Valley, which lost to Hempfield on Wednesday, replaced the Spartans after administrators discovered they misapplied an eligibility rule and one of the Hempfield wrestlers was academically ineligible, according to PIAA rules.

Hempfield forfeited that bout, giving Seneca Valley a 37-25 victory.

Disappointed Hempfield wrestling coach Vince DeAugustine said it was difficult telling his wrestlers that they weren't advancing to the semifinals because of the mistake.

“Toughest day in my coaching career,” he said. “Obviously, the team was upset about the decision.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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