Franklin Regional’s Solomon wins gold, Dibert takes silver at PIAA wrestling tournament

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Saturday, March 20, 2021 | 10:01 AM


Sometimes it’s better not to poke the bear.

Waynesburg junior Cole Homet found out the hard way against Franklin Regional junior Finn Solomon.

After Homet defeated Solomon, 4-2, in the WPIAL Class AAA final Feb. 27, the wrestlers exchanged words. The phrase was uttered, “See you next time.”

Solomon sure did. He mauled Homet in the PIAA West Super Region, 12-1, on March 6 at Altoona, which set up the grudge match March 13 in the PIAA 138-pound final at Giant Center in Hershey.

There, the two battled for six minutes with Solomon getting a third-period takedown for a 7-5 win and the state title.

Solomon blanked his first two opponents in Hershey: Kennet’s Trent Kochersperger, 3-0, in the quarterfinals and DuBois senior Chandler Ho, 6-0, in the semifinals.

He becomes the eighth wrestler to win a state title at Franklin Regional and that makes 13 gold medals. Nico Megaludis and Spencer Lee were three-time champions and Devin Brown a two-time champion. The other champions are Carter Dibert, Josh Shields, Tyler Smith, Michael Kemerer and Solomon.

Solomon said he changed his approach against Homet since the WPIAL finals. He was aggressive and went full bore to score points.

“Win or lose, I just tried to score as many points that I could,” Solomon said who placed second in 2019. “It’s a great feeling, impossible to explain about missing the tournament last year and winning this year. It’s such a fun atmosphere here.

“Every time I’m here, is so much fun. Last year motivated me to get to the top of the podium this year.”

It was an unusual year for all high school athletes who were dealing with the coronavirus. The season was shorted by Gov. Tom Wolf, and the PIAA did its best to squeeze in the season. It even added another tournament for the wrestlers to qualify for Hershey.

Solomon said he also changed his mental approach to the match against Homet.

“Wrestling has always been there for me,” Solomon said. “I just focused and made sure that I wasn’t nervous like I was last year. I told myself that I did not want to repeat that. I just wanted to go out and win and wrestle hard.”

Solomon’s teammate, senior Dibert, came up short in his attempt to win a second title. He lost a hard-fought 3-2 decision to Bethlehem Catholic sophomore Tyler Kasak. Dibert was a 2019 champion at 106 and third in 2020.

Dibert sat with his head down in a back hallway at Giant Center. Solomon went to consol him.

“Carter is tough. He’ll be OK,” Solomon said. “It hurts now, but he has big things ahead of him at Arizona State.”

After Solomon won, he ripped off his headgear and leaped into the arms of coach Matt Lebe. He then leaped into the stands and ran up the stairs to hug his parents.

“I got tired halfway up to the top,” Solomon joked. “It was so exciting to go up and greet them. They put in so much work preparing my meals, to get me in shape. My dad was always preparing food before and afterwards making sure I was ready and doing things for me.”

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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