Frazier’s Lawrence emerges with 189-pound title at Class 2A Southwest Regional

Saturday, March 4, 2023 | 9:51 PM

ALTOONA — It didn’t take long for Rune Lawrence to flash the brilliance of his skills in the sport he loves. Frazier’s dominating 189-pound junior showed why he’s a two-time PIAA Class 2A wrestling champion by registering the only fall in the finals of the Southwest Regional championship tournament Saturday at Altoona Fieldhouse.

And he did so in short order, stopping Somerset’s Rowan Holmes in 1 minute, 21 seconds.

“I expect to go out there and dominate. It’s in my mindset,” Lawrence said. “I’m not trying to win by points. I’m trying to score as many points as I can and get out as fast as I can.”

His wasn’t the only impressive performance by a WPIAL wrestler, as three others came away with 1-0 victories.

Laurel senior Grant MacKay, who won a state title as a sophomore in 2021, was stout all match long at 160 pounds in a gritty 1-0 decision over Zeke Dubler of Glendale. Bentworth’s Chris Vargo outlasted Cooper Hornack of Burrell, 1-0, at 127, and 133-pounder Peter Chacon of Montour made his only point stand up in a 1-0 victory over Jamison Poklembo of Mt. Pleasant.

They were among six athletes representing WPIAL schools to come away with a regional title, joining Joey Sentipal of Burgettstown (139) and Brenan Morgan of Central Valley (215).

Lawrence, MacKay, Vargo, Chacon and Sentipal entered the tournament as top seeds with Lawrence, MacKay and Vargo winning regional titles for a third year.

MacKay was pumped after the final horn in his match, slapping hands and nodding his head at a group of adoring fans as he hustled off the mat.

“The goal since last March, after finishing last year’s states, is to win a state title this year,” said MacKay, who dropped a 2-1 decision to Holden Garcia of Notre Dame-Green Pond, in the championship match a year ago. “I wanted to do it for a second time last year and it didn’t happen. But I adapted, went back to the drawing board, did what I needed to do. I fixed some things and this is just the next step to prepare for next week.”

In other championship bouts involving WPIAL wrestlers, Burrell’s Cam Baker dropped a 10-4 decision to Dominic Deputy of Chestnut Ridge at 107 pounds, Nico Fanella of Indiana suffered a tough 4-2 loss when Landon Bainey of West Branch registered a takedown in overtime and Frazier’s Ryan Celaschi was blanked by Penns Valley’s Ty Watson, 6-0.

Despite losing, all three WPIAL wrestlers will move on. the top six regional finishers advance to the PIAA championships, scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey.

Other WPIAL wrestlers advancing to the state tournament were Parker Sentipal of Burgettstown and Jorden Williams of Chartiers-Houston, at 114 pounds; Sean Cain of Mt. Pleasant, 121; Lucas Barr of McGuffey and Jack Kazalas of Quaker Valley, 121; Anthony Orlandini of Montour, 127; Gaven Suica of Burgettstown, 133; Niko Ferra of Burrell and Owen Ivcic of Bentworth, 139; and Jonah Erdely of Frazier and Logan Rickey of Quaker Valley, 145.

Also, Isaiah Pisano of Hopewell and Tyler Berish of Beth-Center, at 152; Chase Brandebura of Carlynton and Chase Franeli of Jefferson Morgan, 160; Isaac Lacinski of Burrell, Jessie Orbin of Chartier-Houston and Braedon Welsh of Fort Cherry, 172; Jake Layhue of Beth-Center, 189; Vitali Daniels of Bentworth, Christian McChesney of Greensburg Salem and Dylan Pitzer of Mt. Pleasant, 215; and Joseph Baronick of Burgettstown and Christian Flaherty of Keystone Oaks, 285.

Elsewhere in regional championship matches, Lucas Fye of Bald Eagle Area won the 121-pound final, Trent Hoover of Penn Cambria claimed first place at 145, Caleb Close of Bald Eagle Area was the winner at 172 and Gunner Singleton of Huntingdon topped the field at 285.

Vargo’s victory at 127 denied Hornack a second regional championship as looked ahead to another trip to the state finals with some added optimism.

“Winning here means you get a better placement at the state tournament, easier opponents, easier wins,” Vargo said. “(Hornack) beat me (3-1) in my district final, and I was thinking about it all week. He wrestled a good match today, but I capitalized on a few mistakes and I was able to come back.”

At 133, Chacon, with a special group of family members looking on, had just enough to best Poklembo and satisfy a pair of his uncles, who previously took home victories in the event during the 1990s.

“They both won it when they were wrestling for Meyersdale, and I was sure I was going to get a lot of crap from them if I didn’t do it, too,” Chacon said. “It was nice to have the family here watching it and make them proud.”

While Joey Sentipal’s brother, junior Parker Sentipal, fell short of a second regional title, the elder Sentipal, a senior, took down Liam Cornetto of Marion Center in overtime in a 6-4 decision after failing to claim a championship a year ago.

“It’s definitely a mental barrier there between this year and last year,” Joey Sentipal said. “It feels good to really overcome that. But it’s just another match. I can’t look at it any other way.”

He said he’s been supportive of his brother throughout their careers, and vice versa.

“We’re a family. We’re more than brothers. He’ll always be there for me. I’ll always be there for him. Wins and losses, whatever.”

Meanwhile, Morgan was triumphant over his outcome at 215, a 3-1 decision against Grant Mathias of Berlin Brothersvalley.

“It means a lot. I’m the first person from my school to do it,” he said. “It feels so good to come away with a win.”

At the podium, when the 189-pound place-winners took their spots, Lawrence stood at the top of the field and stared ahead.

As he stepped down from his perch, he kept his stoic demeanor as the tournament’s only winner by fall.

“It just shows all the work I’ve put in over the years is paying off,” he said. “It’s getting me ready for the next step. I set a goal when I was little and I’m working to get it. Four (state championships) is the big picture now.”

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