Gateway’s Whiteside ready to earn trip to state tournament

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Saturday, January 4, 2020 | 9:13 AM


Evan Whiteside has designs on competing at the PIAA wrestling championships in March.

The Gateway senior came close to achieving that last year as he placed fifth at 113 pounds at the Class AAA WPIAL/Southwest Regional tournament at Canon-McMillan.

But as exciting as the prospect is for Whiteside to finish his high school career in Hershey, he’s not rushing anything. He also is not taking anything for granted.

“My goal has always been to get to states, but my motto is one match at a time,” said Whiteside, who entered the new year 9-2 overall and ranked sixth in the district at 120 by wpialwrestling.net.

“I can’t think all the way to March with it still being early January. Nothing will be just given to me. I have to earn it. I am working my way to that point and building off every opportunity in practice and in my matches along the way.”

Whiteside and his Gators teammates return to competition Saturday at the 19-team Harry “Bo” Wood Tournament at Indiana High School before hosting Latrobe on Thursday in a Section 1 contest.

Whiteside is hoping to add a tournament title at Indiana to his 120 runner-up finish at the season-opening Eastern Area tournament and a 4-0 record at the North Hills Duals on Dec. 14.

Whiteside said he is looking forward to facing Latrobe’s Nate Roth, ranked No. 8 by wpialwrestling.net.

All nine of Whiteside’s wins this season have come by a pin.

“I’ve always wrestled on the offensive and aggressive,” he said. “That’s never changed.”

Whiteside holds a 12-5 advantage on takedowns for to takedowns against, and he has scored 56 points (team and tournament) this season.

“Evan definitely came in motivated and ready to go,” Gateway coach Ryan Sula said.

“He had been wrestling at a high level all offseason. To himself, he has something to prove. He knows what his goals are and how to accomplish them, and he’s doing the right things.”

Whiteside, who has garnered college interest from Gannon and Pitt-Johnstown, pinned his way to the finals at Eastern Areas. Included in that run was a first-period win over Connellsville’s Mason Prinkey in the semifinals.

Prinkey, a junior, was a 106-pound state semifinalist last year.

“It was definitely a positive experience for him,” Sula said. “I know he was pumped. Pinning (Prinkey) in the first period really boosted his confidence.”

Whiteside fell to Franklin Regional junior Carter Dibert, last year’s Class AAA 106 state champion, in the Eastern Area finals.

“I was able to take something away from each match in that tournament to help me improve,” Whiteside said. “It helped me realize where I stood and what I needed to work on.”

Whiteside also said he took some beneficial things from a tough 10-1 loss to Hempfield’s Ethan Berginc, a state qualifier last year, when they wrestled in a team section dual Dec. 11.

Dibert, Prinkey and Berginc are in the top four in the wpialwrestling.net 120 rankings.

Whiteside said he and his teammates also benefited from a strong stretch of workouts during the holiday break that refueled optimism moving forward.

In addition to upcoming dual meets, Whiteside said he is pointing to what he knows will be quality competition at the Allegheny County tournament Jan. 17-18 at Fox Chapel.

“I am really excited for the county tournament,” said Whiteside, who took home a seventh-place medal last year and a sixth-place medal in 2018. “I think I have what it takes to win a championship there.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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