Franklin Regional’s Dibert, Kiski Area’s Miller claim PIAA Class AAA gold

Saturday, March 9, 2019 | 10:20 PM

HERSHEY — Franklin Regional sophomore Carter Dibert didn’t waste any time in the 106-pound final at the PIAA Class AAA wrestling championships Saturday at Giant Center.

He let Seneca Valley sophomore Dylan Chappell know he meant business.

Dibert (41-2) got a five-point move in the first 25 seconds of the match and cruised to a 7-2 victory. After finishing off the win, he leaped to his feet and clenched his fists.

The victory reversed a 5-1 sudden-victory loss to Chappell (41-5) on March 3 in the WPIAL finals.

“Last week, I think I was a little more cautious,” Dibert said. “I was a little more feeling him out. This week, I just wanted to get to my stuff, really just get to a lead and build on it.”

And he did that with the quick takedown.

“If it’s there, I was going to go for it,” Dibert said. “I think it was a slide-by. I saw it was there. I hit it, and it worked.”

Dibert defeated Chappell’s teammate and two-time state champion, Alejandro Herrera-Rondon, twice in 2018, so he has won big matches before. He just didn’t have a good state tournament in 2018.

“I really don’t even know how to explain it,” Dibert said. “It just feels so good. Last year I came here (and) I didn’t get what I wanted.

“I didn’t place. But this year, I came back. I trained so hard throughout the year, and it just paid off.”

Now he’s going to celebrate by going home and eating a big bowl of Fruity Pebbles.

Dibert wasn’t the only Franklin Regional wrestler to make the finals. Freshman Finn Solomon (41-8) gave Herrera-Rondon a good battle before losing 10-5 at 113, and senior Colton Camacho (40-4) dropped a heartbreaking 6-5 decision to rival Darren Miller (46-2) of Kiski Area.

“He got that takedown late in the first period, and I couldn’t escape,” said Camacho who finished second for the second consecutive season. “It’s disappointing to finish second again.”

Miller said: “It’s like a dream come true. I was able to live my dream. This was just a miracle to me.

“Not being able to come last year pushed me to the next level. I realized I had to get in the room. I was training every day. I knew at that moment I wanted to be on top the following year.”

Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe said he was proud of all of his wrestlers.

“They all battled,” Lebe said. “That was a great win for Carter, and Finn really fought Alejandro. I feel badly for Colton because how hard he’s worked.”

Herrera-Rondon (48-1) said Solomon fought him well.

“Finn is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever wrestled,” Herrera-Rondon said. “He’s a scrambly kid. I just wrestled tough.

“Last year’s title was really sweet because I wasn’t one of the top dogs. This year is just as sweet, just not as dramatic.”

Herrera-Rondon defeated Norwin junior Kurtis Phipps, 1-0, to win the 2018 title at 106.

Phipps (37-3) dropped his second consecutive final match, losing to Nazareth junior Sean Pierson, 8-5.

While Phipps declined comment, Norwin coach Vince DeAugustine said he couldn’t have been prouder of his wrestler because of the distractions he went through prior to the match.

After beating Council Rock South senior Shane Hanson-Ashworth, 5-3, in the semifinals, Phipps spent most of the day at the hospital getting five stitches and having his injured left foot examined.

“He really fought through some pain,” DeAugustine said. “I’m surprised he wrestled as well as he did with the stitches and the torn tendon in his left foot. He gutted it out and did well.”

Pierson (40-3) was able to get the first takedown in the match when it looked like Phipps was going to get it on the edge.

“That was a step back, and he caught Kurtis,” DeAugustine said. “That kid is good.”

The other county wrestler in the finals was Kiski Area senior Cam Connor (49-3), who dropped a 10-2 decision to Owen J. Roberts senior Daniel Mancini at 152.

The WPIAL’s fourth champion was Canon-McMillan junior Gerrit Nijenhuis (44-3), who stunned two-time champion Edmond Ruth (37-1) of Susquehanna Township, 8-3, at 170 pounds.

Mt. Lebanon junior Luke Stout (42-2) reached the finals but dropped a 7-1 decision to Erie Cathedral Prep senior Carter Starocci (41-0) at 182, and Upper St. Clair senior Jake Slinger (39-1) lost to Erie Cathedral Prep senior heavyweight Kawaun DeBoe (39-0), 3-0.

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

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