Hempfield’s Briar Priest tops Latrobe’s Nate Roth to lift Spartans

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 | 9:37 PM

The top wrestlers in the WPIAL at 132 pounds met for the first time Tuesday, and the two walked away knowing this likely won’t be the last time they meet this season.

Latrobe sophomore Nate Roth, who was ranked No. 1 in the Trib Total Media individual rankings, and Hempfield junior Briar Priest, was ranked No. 2, squared off in a thrilling match.

Priest used a five-point move, catching Roth in a cradle, in the first period and held on for a thrilling 6-5 victory.

The victory helped No. 3 Hempfield defeat Latrobe, 50-18, in a WPIAL Class AAA Section 2-B match. The Spartans (8-0, 4-0) also clinched their subsection title. Latrobe fell to 4-4, 2-2.

But the Roth-Priest match was the highlight of the night.

Roth battled back in the second period to pull to within a point. He was in the bottom position to begin the final period and was unable to escape Priest grasp.

“I never faced him before, so I learned he was a lot quicker than me,” Priest said. “I think we’ll meet many times this season. It definitely feels good to get the early win and gives me confidence. I almost pinned him.”

Priest was able to get the first takedown and locked in a cradle and took Roth to his back. But Roth fought off his back and got an escape to make it 5-1.

“Briar is a good competitor,” Roth said. “I got caught in that weird cradle. I was able to start coming back and the last period I couldn’t get off the bottom.”

In the second period, Roth was able to secure a couple takedowns to cut the lead to 6-5.

“I have to do a better job on my feet,” Priest said. “That’s something I’ll have to work on.”

Roth said he can’t wait to meet him again: Powerade, counties, sections, whenever.

“I’ll be ready,” Roth said. “We’re going to meet a lot. It was good to see how he wrestles. Now I know what he does. It gives me more of an advantage now.”

Hempfield jumped to a 12-0 lead thanks to forfeits at heavyweight and 106 pounds.

Latrobe got on the board when PIAA champion Vinny Kilkeary pinned Tanner Zola at 1:01 at 113 to make it 12-6.

But the Spartans got a pin from Ethan Lebin at 120 and a technical fall from Ethan Berginc at 126 to push the lead to 24-6.

“I thought we wrestled well,” Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said. “We changed our practice routines because I didn’t feel we were sharp at the Hampton Duals. We actually had a workout today before we left.”

After Priest’s win, the Spartans continued to score big points.

Lucas Kapusta at 138 and Charlie Mesich at 145 recorded pins, and Ty Linsenbigler at 152 and Nolan Daerr at 160 picked up major decisions to push the lead to 45-6.

Latrobe was missing a couple starters, so coach Mark Mears knew it would be a tough challenge to stay with the Spartans.

“We’re young and still a year away,” Mears said. “Our kids wanted to much up against their good kids, and we did. This is great experience for them.

“The Priest-Roth match was the match of the night,” Mears said. “You don’t fall behind 5-0 there. Nate battled back, and I like our odds if they meet again. It’s individual now for us.”

Latrobe got a pin from Sam Snyder at 172 and Corey Boerio was awarded a forfeit at 189.

Hempfield sophomore Elijah Binakonsky closed the night with a major decision win.

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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