Franklin Regional, Hempfield, Derry wrestlers aim for success in WPIAL team tournament

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018 | 9:33 AM


Franklin Regional wrestling coach Matt Lebe called his team together after the Panthers rallied to defeat Moon on Monday in a WPIAL Class AAA team tournament preliminary match.

He congratulated them on their effort and then discussed the plan for how to defeat No. 4 seed Seneca Valley (12-1) at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the first round at Seneca Valley.

The wrestling tournament will be in full swing Wednesday in Class AAA and Class AA.

There will be two rounds at eight sites with the winners advancing to semifinals Saturday at Trinity for Class AAA and Chartiers-Houston for Class AA. The semifinals are at noon followed by the finals at 2.

Franklin Regional (8-3) reached the semifinals in 2017 and ended up fourth. In 2016, the Panthers lost to North Allegheny in the quarterfinals and, in '15 and '14, they were WPIAL and PIAA champions.

Lebe is counting on that experience against Seneca Valley.

“These guys know what it takes and the sacrifices they face,” Lebe said. “Everyone contributed in the win against Moon.”

Franklin Regional trailed 33-5 but rallied for a 43-33 victory.

“It took a team effort to beat Moon, and it will take a better effort against Seneca Valley,” Lebe said. “I feel if we wrestle to our potential we have a chance. That's all I ask.”

If the Panthers defeat Seneca Valley, they will then face the winner of West Allegheny (6-1) and No. 5 Hempfield (16-1) at 7:15.

Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said he would have liked to host matches Wednesday, but he knows his team could face two tough opponents in West Allegheny and then Franklin Regional or Seneca Valley.

“I'm just happy we're back in the tournament,” DeAugustine said.

This is the 23rd time the Spartans have made the team tournament. They won the title in 2007. The Spartans missed the tournament in 2017.

Hempfield reached the Section 1 finals but lost to No. 2 seed Kiski Area.

“It's going to take a solid effort to reach the semifinals,” DeAugustine said. “I was pleased how we competed with Kiski. That was a good battle that should prepare us for the tournament.

“But the key is wrestling well and getting the right matchups. We had to forfeit a match to Kiski because one of our wrestlers left after the first match sick.”

Canon-McMillan (8-0) is seeded No. 1 because it defeated preseason favorite Kiski Area (13-1) in December. The Cavaliers weren't at full strength for that match but received a boost when heavyweight Isaac Reid returned to the lineup two weeks ago.

Waynesburg (12-2), which has lost to Canon-McMillan twice and edged Seneca Valley, was seeded third.

In Class AA, can anyone end Burrell's title streak, which stands at 11?

The No. 1 Bucs (7-5), who drew a bye, will face the winner of the Mt. Pleasant (7-4) and Burgettstown (10-3) match Wednesday at Burrell.

No. 2 seed Freedom (10-4) will face Quaker Valley (8-8). The other match in that pod has Beaver (4-3) facing Beth-Center (6-9).

No. 3 Derry (18-1) will host Keystone Oaks (6-3), with the winner getting the victor of the Elizabeth Forward (6-6) and Valley (4-2) match.

Derry coach Mike Weinell said he wouldn't mind a shot at knocking off Burrell, especially with a healthy squad.

But a couple of key injuries could hurt the Trojans' chances.

“I feel we could go with anybody if we were healthy,” Weinell said. “Still, getting to Saturday is the key.”

McGuffey (12-5), which is seeded No. 4, will host South Side Beaver (5-6), with the winner facing either South Fayette (10-8) or Fort Cherry (9-3).

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

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