Franklin Regional trio dominates at PIAA Class AAA wrestling tournament

Thursday, March 7, 2019 | 9:48 PM

HERSHEY — It was quite a first day for Class AAA wrestlers from Westmoreland County at the PIAA championships on Thursday.

It also was a disappointing day for a few others at Giant Center.

Franklin Regional had three wrestlers win in the opening round, including freshman Finn Solomon, who defeated Liberty senior Tal-Reese Flemming, 4-2, with two third-period reversals. Flemming was seeded No. 2 and ranked third in the state at 113 pounds by

Hempfield sophomore Ty Linsenbigler didn’t care his first-round opponent, McDowell senior Jeffrey Boyd, was a returning state champion. Linsenbigler was confident he would win, and he did, 3-1, at 138 pounds.

He was one of three Hempfield wrestlers to reach Friday’s quarterfinals. The others were senior Kyle Burkholder (113) and sophomore heavyweight Isaiah Vance.

Norwin had two wrestlers — Kurtis Phipps (120) and Ryan Weinzen (220) — survive close calls. Latrobe junior Gabe Willochell (132) squeezed out a 6-2 victory, and Belle Vernon senior Scott Joll (180) rallied for a win.

It was also a good day for Kiski Area, which had four wrestlers — senior Darren Miller (126), senior Cam Connor (152), junior Jack Blumer (160) and junior Nick Delp (170) — advance.

It wasn’t a good day for Penn-Trafford senior Nick Coy, who saw his dream of winning a PIAA title slip away. He dropped a 5-1 decision to Spring Ford sophomore Jack McGill.

Coy wasn’t the only seeded wrestler and returning state placewinner to fall during a crazy Day 1.

At least 13 higher-seeded wrestlers lost.

Solomon (38-7) won two matches.

“I knew once we made it through the first period scoreless, I could beat him,” Solomon said. “I knew I could hold him down.”

Being a tough rider is something Solomon learned from his brother, Gus.

“(Flemming) was a tough wrestler. I knew that coming in after he finished third last year,” Solomon said. “But I was prepared for him. I knew what he liked to do. I got the warm-up match, which helped. I’m not worried about that. I just want to go and beat my next opponent.”

Solomon will face East Stroudsburg South’s Patrick Gould in the quarterfinals.

Franklin Regional teammates sophomore Carter Dibert (106) and senior Colton Camacho (126) had equally impressive performances. Dibert (38-2) rolled to a 13-3 win against Cathedral Prep freshman Jacob Van Dee, and Camacho (38-3) ripped Bethlehem Liberty senior Mike Torres, 16-1.

Dibert said he was a little jittery to begin his match. But he quickly found his groove and took control.

“I was a little sloppy to start, but once I calmed down, I got to my shots and do what I do,” Dibert said. “It was a neat thing that all three of us dominated. All the guys work hard in the room, and it showed up here.”

Dibert gets the top seed at 106, Cedar Cliff sophomore Aiden Lewis, in the quarterfinals, which begin at 2 p.m.

Camacho wasted no time whipping his opponent. He will face Carlisle junior Rafael Portilla (25-6).

“I felt really good,” Camacho said. “Finn and I wrestled kids from the same school, and when he won, I got pretty pumped.”

Linsenbigler was reminded by classmates all week that he was facing a state champion. All that did was motivate him.

“I knew if I wrestled my match, I’d beat him,” Linsenbigler said while icing his right ankle. “I was excited for it. I just stuck to what I know and mental toughness. I wasn’t as nervous this year. That was the key.

“Last year when I walked in here, I was frightened off the big stage and I didn’t wrestle my best.”

He will face top-seeded Souderton senior Tyler Williams (27-2) in the quarters.

Burkholder (31-7) had a first-period pin of Coatesville sophomore Nathan Lucier. He will face Cumberland Valley junior Ben Monn (36-7), the third seed.

Vance (33-4) took down the fourth seed, Garnet Valley sophomore Coltin Deery, 9-6. Earlier, he defeated Oxford senior Sam Blevins, 3-1. Vance gets Stroudsburg senior Sami Khamis (36-6) next.

Phipps defeated William Tennent junior T.J. England, 4-2, and Weinzen nipped Hollidaysburg senior Gus Dellinger, 3-2.

Phipps will face Stroudsburg senior Cameron Enriquez (35-6), a wrestler he defeated, 6-5, in the Powerade finals.

Norwin coach Vince DeAugustine said Phipps must wrestle better. He said a couple caution calls got him off his game.

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

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