Franklin Regional wrestling turns focus to individual goals

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Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 9:01 AM


Franklin Regional could have entered the WPIAL Class AAA Team Tournament and probably would have won the Section 1 title and reached the semifinals.

But coach Matt Lebe, school officials and team members all agreed individual goals were more important to shoot for because of the pandemic.

So the team was pulled from the team tournament a day after winning its fourth Westmoreland County Wrestling Tournament title.

Franklin Regional finished with 189.5 points and Mt. Pleasant was second with 163.

The Panthers had five finalists and four walked away with titles.

They were senior Carter Dibert (126 pounds), junior Finn Solomon (138), senior Mario Sarnic (145) and senior Garrett Thompson (152). Freshman Ty Kapusta (106) placed second.

Placing third was Dalton O’Neil (132). Finishing fourth was Dom Colaizzi (113). Placing fifth were Juliano Marion (189) and Christo Marion (215). Kaleb Sheetz (126) and Anthony Alesi (215) took sixth.

“Our individuals have goals,” Lebe said. “We want to give them the opportunity to do so. If this was a normal year, we would have competed in the team tournament. We’re looking forward to returning next year.”

Thompson, who earned Outstanding Wrestler honors for defeating Hempfield senior Ty Linsenbigler in overtime, had the biggest win in the finals.

“I knew I could win if I pushed him,” Thompson said. “I put in a lot of work at practice. Coach is always in my ear about getting extra workouts when I’m home.”

Thompson said watching Sarnic win in the prior match pumped him up.

Sarnic breezed to a 16-0 win against Hempfield senior Nolan Daerr to take the 145-pound title.

Sarnic was the only wrestler to win the title who was not seeded and needed to advance through Friday’s qualifying rounds.

“I knew I could win it,” Sarnic said. “My seeding was messed up because of the late start to my season.”

Sarnic (11-1) had his appendix removed before the season. He missed his entire junior season while recovering from a football injury.

“The Friday night tournament was like a warm-up for me,” Sarnic said. “It’s good to be back on the mat. Working with Finn and Garrett has helped me prepare for the season. They push me hard.

“It was also nice to help the team win the team title. I expect to win, and I expect to do well in the individual tournament.”

The individual tournament was set to begin Feb. 17 with the Section 1 sub-sectional at Penn-Trafford. The Section 1 Championship is Feb. 20 at Kiski Area, and the WPIAL Class AAA Championship is Feb. 27 at Canon-McMillan.

Dibert (23-0) won a showdown of returning PIAA champions at the county tournament. Dibert won a state title in 2019 and Hempfield senior Ethan Berginc in 2020.

Dibert got the early lead with a takedown and then had to hold off Berginc’s late rally for a 3-2 win.

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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