Franklin Regional wrestlers in position for big season

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Sunday, November 28, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Franklin Regional wrestling coach Matt Lebe stopped short of predicting a WPIAL title for his team, but the veteran mentor expects his team to be one of the best in Class 3A.

The Panthers opted not to compete in the WPIAL team tournament is 2021 because of covid concerns. Franklin Regional was Section 1-B champion.

The Panthers did have some individuals who shined. Then-junior Finn Solomon won the 138-pound PIAA title and senior Carter Dibert was the WPIAL 126-pound champion and PIAA runner-up. Dibert is now wrestling at Arizona State.

Lebe expects Solomon, a North Carolina State commit, to be in the running for another state title. He was a PIAA runner-up to Seneca Valley’s Alejandro Herrera-Rondon in 2019.

Franklin Regional returns 12 starters from last year’s squad that finished 17-3 and was the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association team champion.

Solomon (35-2, 102-17) heads the returnees. Others expected to have big seasons include sophomores Ty Kapusta (106 pounds), Dom Colaizzi (120) and Juliano Marion (189), juniors Justin Bass (126), Nate Stone (138), Gavyn Beck (160), Travis Hall (170) and Anthony Alesi (220) and seniors Christo Marion (220) and Ben Pekarcik (132).

A trio of freshmen could break into the starting lineup. They are Nico Sarnic (113), Dylan DeRiggi (120) and Roman Colangelo (152).

“I believe we’ll be one of the top 10 teams in the WPIAL,” Lebe said. “I have a hard-working group who are working every day to get better. We have high expectations.

“We lost some great wrestlers (Dibert, Mario Sarnic, Garrett Thompson and Dalton O’Neil). But I expect a lot of wrestlers will make a step forward.”

One of those wrestlers is Colaizzi, who competed in one of the toughest weight classes in the state.

Solomon’s only losses in 2020-21 were to Waynesburg’s Wyatt Henson and Cole Homet.

Solomon lost to Homet in the WPIAL finals but came back to beat him in the PIAA West Region finals and PIAA finals.

“Finn is a great leader,” Lebe said. “He loves wrestling and he leads by example.”

The Panthers’ section champions were Dibert, O’Neil, Solomon, Sarnic and Thompson. Finishing second were Kapusta, Colaizzi, Beck and Christo Marion.

Franklin Regional is in Section 1-B with Gateway, Penn Hills, Penn-Trafford, Plum and Woodland Hills. In Section 1-A are Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Highlands, Indiana and Kiski Area.

The Panthers open the season Dec. 10-11 at the Eastern Area Invitational at Gateway. They also are in the King of the Mountain tournament Dec. 17-18 at Central Mountain in Lock Haven.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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