High school notebook: Norwin wrestling coach leads U16 team to national duals title

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Monday, July 25, 2022 | 11:47 AM


Called the “toughest wrestling tournament in the country,” the USA Wrestling National Championships represent a true test of talent for coaches and competitors.

To Kyle Martin, the event represents a grandiose stage that matches the competition level.

Martin found so much enjoyment and success in last year’s event, he couldn’t wait to revisit Fargo, N.D., this summer.

The experience was just as pleasurable: The Norwin coach led the U.S. U16 team to a second straight national duals title.

Among those on Martin’s team were Jo Dollman, who competed in the women’s U16 division; Maddox Shaw (Thomas Jefferson), who took third individually; Rocco Welsh; Bode Marlow (Thomas Jefferson); Jake Conroy (Ringgold); and Mason Kernan and Logan Hartman (Bethel Park).

The wrestlers qualified through the USA Wrestling Regionals or state championships. Brackets, Martin said, usually have more than 150 participants in each weight class, and the top eight earn All-America status.

Martin, the Pennsylvania U16 director and freestyle coach since 2018, said none of his title wins followed the same gameplan.

“This year was the tightest race, and going into it last week, I would have said California was the favorite,” Martin said. “But, specifically (on July 18), our athletes knocked off some opponents ranked higher than them and squeaked out a (223-212) win over California. That point-differential is literally two matches that go the other way and we lose.”

Martin, who runs the Knights Regional Training Center in North Huntingdon, said he has established a curriculum for his wrestlers to follow.

“Points of emphasis that all of our U16 athletes get throughout the year,” he said. “We focus on those points in training camps. A lot goes into it. It’s exhausting, frustrating but incredibly fun and rewarding to watch our athletes compete at optimal levels. We were able to beat some tough opponents. We finished with 16 All-Americans.”

Martin also was selected to coach the U.S. World Team this week in Rome.

Boyle hired

John Boyle is the new baseball coach at Greensburg Central Catholic.

Boyle takes over after the resignation of Tom Appleby, who led the Centurions for three years. Boyle was one of Appleby’s assistants.

Appleby went 22-13 with two playoff trips.

Boyle coached the GCC junior high team for two years and has been active in travel ball and West Point baseball for more than 20 years. He still plays in a local over-4o league.

“Tom left us a solid foundation, and we are going to need it,” Boyle said, “now that we are playing up next season.”

GCC will play in Class 2A for the next two seasons.

Nice ring to it

The Norwin hockey team reassembled as PIHL champions recently and collected their spoils: championship rings.

One last time, the Knights celebrated the greatest season in program history, one that saw them capture their first league title with a 5-0 win over Meadville in March at UPMC Lemieux Complex in Cranberry.

The Knights hoisted the Class A Penguins Cup that evening and didn’t want to put it down.

The ring ceremony was held at DeNunzio’s in Monroeville. There also was a pool party at sophomore forward Alex Thomas’s house.

“I think it finally hit us when we got (the rings),” Knights senior forward Dom Barca said. “It was kind of a ‘holy cow we actually won the whole thing’ moment. I think the rings are a great way to remember that we brought back the first Pens Cup in Norwin history and a great way to look back on the whole experience.”

Norwin finished 16-5-4 after falling to West Chester East in the Pennsylvania Cup Class A championship March 26 near Philadelphia.

Local presence

A trio of area softball players joined some other WPIAL standouts to lead their Ohio Outlaws travel team to a title at the Legendary Softball Summer Scorcher in Virginia Beach, Va.

Ligonier Valley’s Maddie Griffin, getting back to form after breaking her hand during the WPIAL season, joined Sophia Smithnosky of Mt. Pleasant and Sydney Mitchell of Hempfield as the team finished 10-0 and outscored their opponents 62-4.

Other WPIAL players on the team were Neleh Nogay of Neshannock, Madison Pikula of South Allegheny and Amber Morgan of Trinity.

Recruiting

Belle Vernon senior baseball player Ryan Hamer will continue his playing career at Waynesburg.

• Norwin soccer player Ashley Ornowski, a rising senior, will play at Penn State Behrend.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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