Two returning champions defend titles at Allegheny County Wrestling Tournament

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Sunday, January 21, 2018 | 9:08 AM


Defending a title isn't easy, just ask Moon senior Frankie Bonura and Baldwin senior Gehrig Hutchison.

But for Moon senior Nick Acuna and Mt. Lebanon sophomore Luke Stout, winning their second titles was tougher than they expected at the 17th annual Allegheny County Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at Fox Chapel.

Even though their matches were tight, Acuna and Stout found away to become two-time champions.

Acuna defeated North Allegheny sophomore Freddy Junko, 4-0, in the 145-pound final, and Stout squeezed past Central Catholic senior Vincenzo Rauso, 3-1, at 160.

“I wasn't planning on being a two-time champion,” Acuna said. “I was surprised I won last year. This year my goal is to make it to states and do well.”

Acuna had no problem controlling the match. He got an early takedown and didn't allow Junko any room to work.

Stout used a second-period escape and then a quick single-leg to grab a 3-1 lead.

“It was the first time I faced him,” Stout said. “He's short, and I didn't adjust. We'll probably meet again.

“Winning this is big because now I'm two titles away from being a four-time champion. That's my goal.”

Bonura, who won at 106 in 2017, was overpowered by Shaler junior Ryan Sullivan, losing 11-2. Sullivan was a PIAA runner-up in 2017 at 106.

Hutchinson got off to a quick start but fell to Chartiers Valley senior Shamil Zaynullaev, 9-3, at 195.

The other returning champion, Penn Hills junior Justin Perkins, did not enter the tournament.

It was a big day for three freshmen.

Quaker Valley's Conner Redinger (106), Pine-Richland's Cole Spencer (152) and Hampton's Justin Hart (182) had electric performances in the finals.

Redinger dominated North Allegheny freshman Max Stedeford, 9-2. He posted three pins heading into the finals.

Stedeford upset South Park freshman Joe Fischer, the No. 1 seed, in the opening round. Redinger and Fischer wrestle in Class AA.

“I was hoping to face Joey,” Redinger said. “He's my friend. I'm not surprised that I won. I beat the No. 1 kid in the state earlier this season.”

Spencer, who could replace Phil Jurkovec at quarterback in the fall, had four pins and a technical fall during the tournament. He pinned Montour senior Nico Marsico, the top seed, in the finals.

“I wouldn't say I'm going to replace Phil,” Spencer said. “This is definitely a big win for me.”

Hart, whose brother, Jacob, wrestled at Hampton, said winning was the goal.

“I want to win states,” Hart said. “So winning this is a step for me. I knew I could gas him if I pressed him.”

Hampton sophomore Tyler Kocak (120), Quaker Valley John Rocco Kazalas (132), Bethel Park senior Jason Montgomery (170) and Zaynullaev were 2017 finalists who won titles this season.

Also winning were West Mifflin senior heavyweight Gerald Brown, North Hills sophomore Sam Hillegas (126), Thomas Jefferson junior Alex Weber (138) and Upper St. Clair junior Jake Slinger (220).

Hillegas was named the tournament's outstanding wrestlers after recording five pins. There were 384 pins out of 640 matches during the two-day tournament.

Sullivan won the late Ron Garrison Brotherhood of Wrestler Award for sportsmanship, and Kazalas won the award for most pins in the shortest amount of time. He had five falls in 8 minutes, 23 seconds.

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

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