High school wrestling notebook: Norwin’s Phipps, North Hills’ Hillegas chasing 3rd WPIAL titles

Monday, February 25, 2019 | 1:30 AM

Norwin junior Kurtis Phipps and North Hills junior Sam Hillegas could reach a WPIAL milestone at the WPIAL/Southwest Regional Class AAA wrestling championships Friday and Saturday at Canon-McMillan.

They could join a long list of three-time champions. That list grew to 77 at the WPIAL Class AA tournament Feb. 16 after Frazier junior Thayne Lawrence (160) and McGuffey senior Christian Clutter (170) won titles.

Hillegas (34-0), a two-time PIAA champion, is competing at 132 pounds, and will face a possible challenge from Latrobe junior Gabe Willochell (30-3) and his funky style. Franklin Regional senior Zach McCann (18-3), who is committed to American, is seeded fifth.

Phipps (30-2) would have faced a stiff challenge from Shaler senior Ryan Sullivan (28-1). He was seeded second behind returning WPIAL and PIAA champion, but a broken right hand forced Sullivan to withdraw from the tournament. Phipps defeated Sullivan, 3-1, in the 2017 final.

Phipps beat Seneca Valley junior Alejandro Herrera-Rondon, 1-0, in the 2018 final, but lost a 2-0 decision to Herrera-Rondon a week later in the state final.

“That’s disappointing, I was looking forward to wrestling him again,” Phipps said of Sullivan’s injury. “It would have been a lot of fun and a good battle.”

Now Phipps’ top challengers will be Waynesburg freshman Cole Homet (36-6), Belle Vernon senior Logan Seliga (27-6) and Pine-Richland freshman Kelin Laffey (26-7).

The other returning WPIAL Class AAA champions are: Franklin Regional senior Colton Camacho (33-3) at 126, Kiski Area senior Cam Connor (42-2) at 152, Kiski Area junior Jack Blumer (37-3) at 160 and Belle Vernon senior Scott Joll (29-6) at 182.

Camacho is seeded second behind Kiski Area senior Darren Miller (38-1). Miller has won a pair of 4-3 decisions this season against Camacho.

Joll is seeded second behind Mt. Lebanon junior Luke Stout (35-1), who beat Joll in the Section 2 finals last week.

The top four wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes qualify for the PIAA tournament March 7-9 at the Giant Center in Hershey.

A little upset

Frazier junior Thayne Lawrence doesn’t mind a physical battle in a wrestling match, as long as it’s clean.

Lawrence had to be calmed down Saturday by his parents and coaches after defeating St. Joseph Catholic Academy’s Tyler Stoltzfus, 8-2, for his first PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional title at IUP’s Kovalchick Complex.

“He tried to rip my upper lip off,” Lawrence said. “He stuck his fingers in my mouth and pulled.”

Lawrence kept asking his mom if he needed stitches and she assured him he didn’t.

“I wouldn’t mind a rematch in the state tournament,” Lawrence said. “He’s a tough wrestler, and I want to see if I can do better against him.”

Lawrence is the returning 152-pound state champion.

Stoltzfus wrestled for Mifflinburg (District 4) in 2018 and finished fifth in the state at 160 pounds. He transferred to St. Joseph Catholic Academy prior to the season.

On the board

Eight WPIAL wrestlers won Class AA Southwest Regional titles Saturday, the most since 2014 when there were 11.

Among those eight were first-time champs for three schools: Elizabeth Forward, Hopewell and Frazier. Ryan Michaels (113 pounds) from EF, Jacob Ealy (138) from Hopewell and Lawrence (160) from Frazier all stepped to the top of the podium.

The other regional winners were: South Park sophomore Joey Fischer (106), the eighth in school history; Burrell sophomore Ian Oswalt (120), the 35th; Freedom sophomore Trent Schultheis (135), the ninth; Mt. Pleasant freshman Dayton Pitzer (182), the seventh; and Derry senior Dom DeLuca (220), the 10th.

Burrell has the most regional champions (35) among teams from the WPIAL and Districts 5 and 6. Jefferson-Morgan is second with 30.

City League wrestling

While the WPIAL Class AAA wrestlers head to Canon-McMillan for the WPIAL and PIAA Southwest Regional tournament this weekend, the City League representatives will go to the Northwest Regional in Altoona, along with Districts 4, 6, 9 and 10.

Brashear graduate Godwin Nyama is the only City wrestler to win a state title (2012).

City League wrestlers with the best shot to advance to Hershey include: Allderdice sophomore Troy Jacobson (26-7) at 120 pounds, Brashear senior Joe Mwete (27-2) at 145 and Carrick senior L.J. Orbovich (20-6) at 152.

Jacobson finished second to Shaler’s Sullivan at the Allegheny County tournament in January, while Mwete placed third at 145 and Orbovich did not place.

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

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