Hempfield wrestling team shooting for top spot in WPIAL Class AAA

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 | 8:15 PM

Hempfield Area wrestling coach Tommy Dolde isn’t keen on rankings, especially when his team is the one ranked No. 1 in the preseason.

He’d rather see returning WPIAL Class AAA champion Kiski Area seeded first.

“They are No. 1 in my mind until someone beats them,” Dolde said. “Kiski is good. Canon-McMillan, Waynesburg and Seneca Valley, they’re all good. We’re good too. Class AAA has a lot of good teams.”

Hempfield gets the No. 1 nod among a strong group of teams in Class AAA because it returns 10 starters, including four PIAA qualifiers: senior Dillon Ferretti (220) and juniors Ethan Berginc (220), Tyler Linsenbigler (138) and heavyweight Isaiah Vance. Both Linsenbigler and Vance were fourth in the state.

But Dolde knows if the Spartans want to win another team title, other wrestlers need to step up.

Two wrestlers — sophomore Briar Priest and senior Justin Cramer — were a win away from making the trip to Hershey last season, and senior Trevor Verkleeren was close to qualifying as well.

“Justin and Trevor are on the verge of taking the next step,” Dolde said. “I’ve seen a big improvement from both early on. Briar was a point away from qualifying and he looks good.”

Also back are junior Nolan Daerr, sophomore Daniel Beck and senior Julian Chillinsky.

Dolde must find replacements for Kyle Burkholder, now at Seton Hill, Jared Brean, Zack Berginc and Magnus Speal.

Freshmen Ethan Lebin (106 pounds) and Lucas Kapusta (126) are expected to take two spots.

Priest (30-10) will move up to 113, Berginc (28-16) will stay at 120, Daerr (19-15) moves up to 132, and Linsenbigler (39-7) moves up to 145. Verkleeren (24-10) is at 152, Beck (7-11) up to 182, Cramer (31-12) at 195, Ferretti (33-12) at 220 and Vance (35-6) at 285.

Three weight classes — 138, 160 and 170 — will have wrestle-offs to determine starters.

Derek Choby and Van Payton will battle at 138, Alex Urban and Brett Birch at 160, and Sam Choby and Chillinsky at 170.

Hempfield will see how good it is Dec. 20 when the Spartans tangle with Canon-McMillan and Seneca Valley. Kiski Area will also be in the triangular meet.

The month of December has the Spartans at the Hampton Duals on Dec. 7, the Mountain Ridge (Md.) Invitational in Frostburg on Dec. 13-14 and Powerade on Dec. 27-28.

“These guys have worked hard and come ready to practice ready to compete,” Dolde said. “They come to practice ready to work hard. I’m excited to see how the freshmen compete.”

Dolde said he knows the section will be tough with Greensburg Salem and Latrobe the Spartans’ chief competition. Kiski Area, Norwin, Franklin Regional and Penn-Trafford are on the other side of the section.

Greensburg Salem and Latrobe are well coached,” Dolde said. “They’ll be ready for us.”

Dolde also hopes his squad is ready to defend its preseason ranking.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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