Developmental season for Penn Hills wrestling ends with near-misses for WPIAL hopefuls

Sunday, March 5, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Penn Hills wrestling spent the season in a developmental phase, trying to build self-confidence on the roster and give kids a chance to qualify for the WPIAL Class 3A championship tournament.

The Indians, though, faced a daunting task by seeing its inexperienced roster having to navigate through a sectional field that included some of the top schools from Westmoreland County. Penn Hills had two wrestlers finish one win away from moving on to the district tournament.

“We were obviously disappointed we didn’t get anyone to WPIALs,” Indians coach Jeremy Packer said. “Daemon (Phipps) and Dom (Frollo) both had tough kids in the consolation quarterfinals.”

Penn Hills saw its wrestling roster swell from five the year before into double figures as the Indians saw a higher turnout of first-time wrestlers. The Indians also saw their girls wrestling team get approved and are hoping to add a few people to the high school team next season.

Since the Indians opted out of a WPIAL dual meet schedule this season and next season, Packer said next year will be similar to this one. Penn Hills is planning to prioritize development over worrying about the team’s wins and losses.

“My hope was wrestling in tournaments would get them ready or the postseason tournament,” Packer said. “But we were hit with the injury bug for a couple weeks and those guys missed some matches at the Allegheny County and Burgettstown Tournaments.”

Frollo (145 pounds) led the team with a 17-9 record. A senior, Frollo, who dealt with injuries during his career, finished with a 34-19 record.

Packer pointed out that Frollo, when healthy, had the skills to score bonus points. He won 22 of his career matches by fall. Frollo won his first-round match at the section tournament 3-2 over McKeesport’s Jayden Coulter.

“He had one of those body types where he was able to score from anywhere,” Packer said. “I never got nervous in scramble situations because he seemed to come on out top in normal situations. He has a funky wrestling style and when you end up on top in a scramble, you can hold the guy down and get a fall.”

Phipps, a 114-pound freshman, also ended up one win short of going to WPIALs and finished the season with a 14-11 record.

“Hopefully, he can take a step forward,” Packer said. “He was only one match away. Hopefully, next year he’s a WPIAL qualifier and it will be a steady progression for him.”

Kelsey Hundle, Julian Lavender, Cam Patterson and Levi Smith also finished with double-digit wins for Penn Hills.


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