Hampton wrestlers march ahead in postseason tournaments

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Saturday, March 2, 2024 | 12:01 AM


The Hampton wrestlers had such a memorable season as a team, they decided to keep it going as individuals.

The Talbots, who won a WPIAL playoff match for the first time since 2018, fared well in the ensuing sectional and WPIAL individual tournaments.

“We walked away very proud of their effort,” coach Nick Endres said.

Nine Talbots advanced through sections to qualify for the WPIAL Class 2A championship, up from seven last year, and two of them, sophomore 133-pounder Dustin Kerr and senior 152-pounder Alan Danner, pushed on to the PIAA Southwest Regional championships, up from one last year.

Meanwhile, senior Isabella McNutt pinned her way to the 112-pound title as a No. 8 seed at the inaugural WPIAL girls wrestling championships Feb. 17 at North Allegheny.

“I think we improved majorly from last year,” said Danner, who placed seventh in the WPIAL to reach regionals for the first time.

Kerr (33-11), who took fifth in the WPIAL for the second consecutive season, and Danner (27-12) were scheduled to continue their postseason march at the PIAA Class 2A Southwest Regionals on March 1-2 at Altoona. The top six finishers in each weight class continue to the PIAA championships March 7-9 at Giant Center in Hershey.

McNutt (15-18), a Gannon signee, posted three consecutive pins, including a 1:51 fall of Canon-McMillan freshman Malia Ramos (18-7) in the 112-pound finals, to win the WPIAL crown. McNutt’s next step was the PIAA West Regional on March 2 at Canon-McMillan, where a top-four finish in the eight-girl regional bracket would send her to the PIAA championships.

The regionals took place after deadline for this edition.

McNutt was seeded eighth in the 11-girl WPIAL bracket because the committee looked solely at in-season records when drawing up the bracket, Endres said, without taking into account whether a wrestler had competed against boys or girls. McNutt, who wrestled almost exclusively against boys, entered WPIALs with a 12-18 record, thus the low seed.

The seeding snub helped to motivate McNutt.

“She always wrestles better when she has a little bit of an edge to her and she has something to prove,” Endres said. “We knew what she was capable of.”

Besides Danner and Kerr, three other Talbots advanced to the second day at the WPIAL championships, freshman Aiden Shim (12-20 at 107), sophomore Jonovan McKelvey (18-14 at 215) and senior Aiden Petry (20-13 at 189).

“Aiden (Petry) had his best tournament of his career,” Endres said.

“He just happened to go against other wrestlers that are very talented. He should be pretty happy with the effort he put forth.”

Other WPIAL qualifiers were seniors Zach Campbell (16-16 at 127), Caleb Rihn (12-7 at 160) and Nate Glock (20-19 at 285) and his younger brother, sophomore Logan Glock (9-18 at 172).

Kerr and Danner were Eastern Sectional runners-up Feb. 17 at Greensburg Salem to begin their postseason path, while Petry placed third and Nate Glock fourth.

Senior Logan Poslusny (16-12 at 139) and sophomore Devin Rakar (10-16 at 145) went 0-2 at sectionals and failed to advance.

Other graduating seniors in the nine-person class of ‘24 are Noah Hollinger and Seamus McLaughlin.

The Talbots finished 7-7, highlighted by a dramatic 39-31 victory over Knoch in which Nate Glock recorded a final-bout pin that Danner called “probably one of the coolest events I’ve experienced personally on a sports team.”

Hampton went on to defeat Avonworth, 38-21, on Jan. 29 for its first postseason victory since ‘18.

“We couldn’t have asked more from them and what they gave,” Endres said of the senior class. “We’re going to miss those guys.”

At the WPIAL championships, Kerr defeated Montour senior Anthony Orlandini, 8-4, in the fifth-place match, avenging a pair of narrow losses last season.

Danner pinned Beaver senior Nick Thompson at 1:56 in a second-round consolation match to assure himself of the elusive berth to the PIAA Southwest Regionals.

“It definitely lifted a heavy weight off my shoulders,” Danner said. “I was worried I wasn’t going to qualify and then I did. It was a good feeling.”

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