Franklin Regional wrestling building toward future

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Saturday, December 2, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Franklin Regional wrestling coach Matt Lebe said he has a good feeling about his team, especially when it counts once January begins.

That’s when he feels his lineup will be set.

The Panthers were co-Section 3-3A champions with Norwin and Penn-Trafford last season and Lebe sees another tight race. He added Thomas Jefferson to the list of contenders in the section.

The Panthers (7-2) dropped a first-round match to Connellsville in the WPIAL team tournament, but shined in the individual tournament.

Three wrestlers earned trips to the PIAA individual tournament in Hershey, and two are back for their senior season. Gavyn Beck graduated after finishing sixth at 160 pounds.

Back are Tyler Kapusta, who placed seventh at 114, and Juliano Marion, who competed at 189 pounds.

Lebe said both are good leaders and have already shown that in the room. He expects big things from both.

“Tyler and Juliano don’t hesitate to help the younger kids,” Lebe said. “They have a good work ethic and lead by example.

“We have a good mixture this season. We’re going to have a lot of competition at some weight classes. We have a logjam at a couple weights.”

Kapusta, who is committed to Bucknell, was 32-11 last year. He placed second in the WPIAL to Latrobe’s Luke Willochell. He’ll begin the season at 127.

Marion placed third in the WPIAL while compiling a 29-7 record. He’ll be at 215.

Also back are sophomore Roman Vollero (4-13) at 121, junior Jude Gentile (6-9) at 139, senior Dom Colaizzi (17-14) at 139, junior Luke Ankney (10-13) at 152, junior Roman Colangelo (18-16) at 160, junior Henry Patts (13-13) at 172 and senior Troy McClelland (15-17) at 189.

Others battling for spots in the lineup are senior Joseph Peluzzi at 160, juniors Nico Sarnic at 133 and Michael Siegel at 152, Ben Hartman at 172 and freshmen Cohen Buccicone at 139, Ethan Cartwright at 145, Titus Colangelo at 107, Mike Ruane at 114 and Chase Smith at 133.

The Panthers open the season Dec. 9 at the Hampton Duals. Lebe doesn’t expect the team to be a full strength, but he’s eager to see how things play at out.

“We’re going to look a lot different in January,” Lebe said. “If we stay healthy and things work out we could be pretty good. The biggest thing is I want to see steady improvement. I feel after Canon-McMillan, Trinity and Connellsville, things are wide open.”

Lebe said his team performed well in a scrimmage against Trinity.

“We held our own,” he said. “That’s encouraging because Trinity is solid. I expect our five freshmen to contribute or push for starting jobs. Competition amongst each other will make us better.

“I do believe we’ll be pretty good if we stay healthy and get guys at the right weight.”

Until then, Lebe will continue to push his wrestlers to be their best.

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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