Franklin Regional wrestling sets sights on section title

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Saturday, January 30, 2021 | 9:01 AM


The Franklin Regional wrestling team hasn’t won a section title for more than five years, but the Panthers have put themselves in position to end that streak.

The Panthers (11-3, 4-0), ranked No. 4 in the Trib HSSN rankings, clinched the top spot in Section 1B-AAA with one section match against Penn Hills remaining.

The Section 1 tournament is scheduled for Feb. 8. A downsized Class AAA tournament begins Feb. 10 with only eight teams in the field.

The Panthers have slowly climbed up in the rankings. The team’s only losses were to No. 1 Waynesburg and twice to No. 2 Seneca Valley.

Panthers coach Matt Lebe said he was confident his team could have a good season. The Panthers went 3-2 at the Kiski Duals, which included wins against Penn-Trafford (46-28), Mars (66-6) and No. 6 Canon-McMillan (41-29).

Senior Carter Dibert (14-0) had a big weekend. He went 5-0, including a win against Seneca Valley senior Dylan Chappell, 6-5, and Waynesburg junior Zander Phaturos, 3-0.

Dibert, the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 126 pounds, moved up to 132 to face Chappell.

He also recorded three pins.

“Carter had a great weekend,” Lebe said. “He moved up to face Dylan, and he had a solid win against Zander.”

Junior Finn Solomon (13-1) went 4-1. He lost to No. 1 Wyatt Henson of Waynesburg but recorded three pins. That gives him eight for the season.

Dibert’s 16-0 technical fall win over Conlan O’Donaghue clinched the match against the Big Macs.

The Panthers were scheduled to compete in the North Allegheny Duals on Jan. 30 with matches against Mars, North Allegheny, Upper St. Clair and Chartiers Valley.

“We’re ranked where I thought we’d be,” Lebe said. “I felt this would be our best team in the past five years. Other than Waynesburg and Seneca Valley, there are a lot of good teams in the WPIAL. Waynesburg and Seneca Valley are a step above.”

The Panthers were set to play host to Mt. Pleasant on Tuesday and are scheduled to compete in the Westmoreland County Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

Other wrestlers having good seasons include sophomore Gavyn Beck (10-4) at 160, junior Christo Marion (10-4) at 215, senior Dalton O’Neil (12-0) at 126, sophomore Nate Stone (11-2) at 132 and senior Garrett Thompson (11-3) at 152.

Lebe is excited for the return of senior Mario Sarnic to the Franklin Regional lineup. Sarnic missed his junior season with a football injury, and he’s been out with a different injury the first part of this season.

Sarnic will compete at 145 pounds.

“I’m excited to see him back on the mat,” Labe said. “He looks good in the room. He’s had terrible luck the last year.”

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

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