Hempfield wrestlers have milestones in sight at Powerade
Thursday, December 29, 2022 | 8:40 PM
Winning 100 matches is a goal wrestlers set when they are freshmen. And if they’re good, that goal is reachable.
Hempfield senior Lucas Kapusta already reached that goal Dec. 21 at Gateway. Senior Ethan Lebin should reach the 100-win milestone at this week’s Powerade Wrestling Tournament at Canon-McMillan.
And while both milestones will be reached, the big goals remain out there.
Lebin finished second in the PIAA Class 3A tournament in 2022. He dropped a 6-3 decision to Central Mountain’s Dalton Perry in the 126-pound final.
“Winning the state title is the ultimate goal,” Lebin said. “The Powerade is a good tournament to see where you stand. You can learn a lot about what you need to improve on.
“Reaching 100 wins after a covid year was big. It definitely motivated me.”
Lebin (12-1 this season, 98-25 career record) advanced to the 127-pound quarterfinals Thursday with two solid wins. He pinned Notre Dame-Green Pond’s Gavyn Kelton in 52 seconds and then blanked Fort LeBoeuf’s Jake Bennett, 9-0.
He was one of only 22 wrestlers from the WPIAL to reach the quarterfinals, where he fell 6-5 to Wyoming Seminary’s Draegen Orine.
“Things have gone pretty good so far,” Lebin said. “I’m more relaxed this season. Things have changed a lot at Hempfield, and Lucas and I have become leaders, and it helps us and the team.”
Coming into the tournament, Lebin had lost only once, to Andrew Binni of Canon-McMillan.
“I stopped wrestling in that match, and it came back to hurt me,” Lebin said. “I know I have to continue to wrestle and not hold back.”
Kapusta (12-1, 102-29) bounced back after a disappointing loss to begin the Powerade Tournament. It was his first loss of the season. He was seeded eighth but dropped an 8-2 decision to Wyoming Seminary’s Smokey McClure.
“I gave up a five-point move in the first period and didn’t recover,” Kapusta said. “But I can still place, which was a goal even if I couldn’t win it.”
Kapusta rebounded by defeating Fort LeBoeuf’s Jackson Bowers, 18-3, and earning a 1-0 win against Central Mountain’s Griffin Walizer. He then lost 6-3 to Jonathan Fuller of St. Peter Prep (N.J).
“Everyone is good in this tournament,” Kapusta said. “You can’t take anyone lightly.”
He said reaching the 100-milestone was his first goal of the season. Now he would like to win WPIAL and PIAA titles.
“I’ve been working a lot harder this season,” Kapusta said. “I’m a lot stronger and in better condition. “
Lebin signed with Bucknell, and Kapusta is undecided about his college plans. He has four offers — from North Dakota State, Edinboro, Lock Haven and West Virginia — and hopes for a few more before the end of the season.
Tough day for WPIAL
The Powerade Tournament is a test for any wrestler. The elite talent on display shows very few WPIAL wrestlers getting to the semifinals.
Twenty-two wrestlers from the district reached the quarterfinals, and only 10 of them emerged victorious.
Waynesburg has three in the semifinals — Mac Church (145), Rocco Welsh (172) and Eli Makel (215). West Allegheny advanced two — Ty Watters (152) and Shawn Taylor (160).
The other WPIAL semifinalists are Seneca Valley’s Tyler Chappell (127), Chartiers Valley’s Dylan Evans (160), Frazier’s Rune Lawrence (189), Armstrong’s Connor Jacobs (215) and Trinity heavyweight Ty Banco.
The semifinals are set for 11 a.m. Friday with the finals at 4 p.m.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .