Franklin Regional wrestlers look to add to program’s Hershey history

Saturday, December 7, 2019 | 10:25 AM

Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe had to stop for a moment and count back through the years to figure out how many seasons in a row the Panthers have had a representative in the PIAA wrestling finals.

The number he landed on was 11, and the reminiscing allowed for a trip through memory lane of watching Nico Megaludis, Spencer Lee, Michael Kemerer, Devin Brown and Josh Shields win PIAA gold in Hershey.

The past is decorated, and the present is pretty good, too.

The Panthers return defending 106-pound Class AAA state champion Carter Dibert, a junior, as well as Finn Solomon, who was the PIAA runner-up as a freshman.

There are also several returners who qualified for WPIALs and six intriguing freshmen who will crack the lineup, which has Lebe excited for what should be another strong season for the Panthers.

“The beautiful thing about Pennsylvania is that it is hard to win once, so it really means something when you do it,” Lebe said.

“It’s hard to do it again, but I’m confident in (Solomon and Dibert), and I think we have a few other guys that can put themselves in the mix for a podium and maybe even get on top of the podium.

“One thing I love about our guys is that they compete. We have 23 wrestlers, and every single one of them works hard and holds themselves to a high standard. The program is in good hands with these 23 guys.”

Franklin Regional graduated Colton Camacho (126), who won a WPIAL championship last year and was the PIAA runner-up. Camacho is at Pitt.

Dibert and Solomon will bump up two weight classes to start. Dibert starts at 120, and Solomon will replace Camacho at 126. Both wrestled at the Super 32 tournament in Greensboro, N.C., in October. Dibert made the quarterfinals, and Solomon lost in the first round.

“I think we’ll see a better version of both of them this year, which says a lot about them,” Lebe said. “They work really hard at what they do, and that’s what leads to their success.”

Junior Garrett Thompson (132) and senior Mason Spears (145) are returners who qualified for WPIALs last year. They are also bumping up two weight classes.

Another returner, Mario Sarnic, suffered an injury during football season and will be sidelined to start the year. His status to wrestle at all this season is unclear, but he has been a positive presence in the wrestling room.

“Mario’s been a great leader for our team,” Lebe said. “We’re going to miss him on the mat, but he hasn’t missed a practice yet. He’s doing a heck of a job of providing leadership and helping our program in other ways.”

Christo Marion, a sophomore, and senior Dylan Singleton also return.

Justin Bass (106), Kaleb Sheetz (113), Mason Stone (138), Gavyn Beck (160), Travis Hall (145 or 152) and Anthony Alesi (195) are the six freshmen who will slot into the lineup. Beck placed third at the PIAA JV tournament last year, and Stone was fifth.

That crop of freshmen will help Franklin Regional go up against difficult subsection opponents Kiski Area, Penn-Trafford, Norwin, Plum and Central Catholic.

“For us, it’s going to be important to take it one match at a time and keep getting better,” Lebe said. “We have to get out of our subsection just to get into the team playoffs. When you deal with Penn-Trafford, Norwin, Kiski Area and Plum, there’s some really good teams that’ll make it tough. I think that’s four teams that are in the top 10 of the WPIAL.

“It’ll be a challenge to get to the team playoffs, but if we do I think we can make some noise.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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