Franklin Regional’s Kapusta opens state tournament with big upset

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Thursday, March 10, 2022 | 10:14 PM


HERSHEY – There were a few upsets and an almost stunner during the first day of the PIAA Class 3A Wrestling Championship on Thursday at the Giant Center.

At least five highly seeded wrestlers were upset and top-seeded Bellefonte senior Jude Swisher needed overtime to defeat Hempfield junior Lucas Kapusta at 145.

The seeded wrestlers to fall were second seeds Cannon Hershey of Oxford, upset by Pine-Richland’s Anthony Ferraro at 126, and Northampton junior Dagen Condomitti, by Lebanon’s Griffin Gonzalez at 152, South Central champion Liam Flanagan of Central Dauphin by Franklin Regional sophomore Ty Kapusta at 106, fourth seed Kyler Everly of Mifflin County by Kiski Area senior Enzo Morlacci at 160, and third seed Chase Levey of Nazareth by Seneca Valley senior Liam Volk-Klos at 215.

The WPIAL had 29 of 52 wrestlers advance to the quarterfinals at 2:15 p.m. Friday.

The win by Ty Kapusta was one of the biggest of his career. He used a reversal in the second period to secure the victory.

“I’m good on my feet and on top,” Kapusta said. “I knew he was good from Super 32. He has a good dump, so I made sure I wrestled by match. “

Ty’s dad Jeff was a PIAA champion (1992) and runner-up at Greensburg Salem.

“My dad never made it to states until his junior year,” Kapusta said. “He told me to go out, have fun and enjoy the moment.”

Now Kapusta finds himself in the quarterfinals against Council Rock North freshman Eren Sement.

Other Westmoreland County wrestlers to advance include Latrobe freshman Luke Willochell (106) and junior Vinny Kilkeary (120), Hempfield junior Ethan Lebin (126) and senior Briar Priest (138), Penn-Trafford senior Troy Hohman (120), Franklin Regional senior Finn Solomon (145), Belle Vernon senior Cole Weightman (215) and Greensburg Salem senior heavyweight Billy McChesney.

Kilkeary (43-2), Priest (35-2) and Solomon (38-2) are going after their second state titles. All looked strong, recording pins in their matches.

Hohman (30-3), who used a throw to score four points to rally to defeat Nazareth junior Charlie Bunting, 6-3, faces the No. 1 seed, Dover senior Mason Leiphart (37-0), in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, in Class 2A, Derry senior Christian Hirak, who just started wrestling this season, has come a long way in short time.

Hirak advanced to the quarterfinals with a pair of victories. He defeated Pope John Paul III senior Alan Alexander, 3-2, in the preliminary and then took out Northwest champion Aiden Zimmerman, 11-0, in the first round. He will face Newport senior Ganon Smith in the quarterfinals.

“At the beginning of the season, I just wanted to become a better wrestler,” Hirak said. “I was hoping I’d make it to Hershey. Now that I won two matches, the goal is to get on the podium.”

Hirak needs one victory to medal. But his coach, Troy Dolan, said he keeps getting better.

“He’s a great listener,” Dolan said. “He does everything we ask of him. He wrestles at All-American, at Quest and has great workout partners. He’s looking good.”

Hirak said he was a little nervous to start, but things got better as the match went on.

“The first match is always the toughest,” Hirak said. “This is the cherry on top, winning here. I have good coaches and workout partners that push me.”

Mt. Pleasant senior Dayton Pitzer’s journey to his third state title rolled on as he pinned Williamson senior Mike Sipps in 45 seconds. Pitzer (215) now has 97 career pins.

Mt. Pleasant teammate Noah Gnibus, making his first trip to Hershey, rallied to defeat Brookville junior Jackson Zimmerman, 8-2, at 189 pounds.

“It feels good to get a win here,” Gnibus said. “I was a little nervous at the beginning, but things calmed down. Wrestling against Dayton in the wrestling room helps me with my endurance.”

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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