Hillegas, North Hills wrestlers find success at Allegheny County tournament

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Thursday, January 24, 2019 | 8:03 PM


In what was billed as the most competitive weight class at the Allegheny County wrestling tournament, North Hills’ Sam Hillegas displayed his grappling prowess by imposing his will against his opponents on his way to taking first place in the 132-pound division Jan. 19.

Hillegas also was the recipient of the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler Award. The honor was well earned, as the two-time PIAA champion pinned all five of his opponents, including a first-period fall against Quaker Valley’s Connor Redinger, who won the 106-pound weight class at last year’s tournament, in the title match.

“In a tournament like this, Sam has the right attitude about it. He has to, basically, separate himself from the rest of the wrestlers. He has to go out there and dominate, because if you give someone the mental edge, and let them think they can hang, then they can cut that gap and make it tough on you,” North Hills coach Jose Martinez said.

“But he didn’t do that. He pinned everybody. Sam made sure to not give his opponents that chance.”

Hillegas wasn’t the only Indians’ wrestler to have success at the 18th annual event at Fox Chapel High School. Two of his teammates also grabbed top-five finishes to help North Hills (5-6, 1-4) finish in 14th place out of 37 schools.

At 220 pounds, Damon Thompson went 4-1 on his way to securing second-place honors. For Martinez, the strong showing from the Indians’ junior further illustrates the strides he has been making throughout the course of this season.

“In the last 10 or 12 meets, the only losses that Damon has taken are in the finals. He’s wrestling better and better, and it’s a good time to be wrestling better,” Martinez said.

“Sure, there’s still a few things we have to work on, but the progression is going up. We’re hoping by the time sections come around, he’s at the top of his game so that he can go into WPIALs with some momentum.”

Jeremy MacPherson also performed well for North Hills, going 4-2 and placing fifth at 126 pounds. The junior is also trending upward, according to his coach.

“Jeremy is similar to Damon; in his last match at that tournament, he really wrestled well,” Martinez said.

“Everybody won a match at the tournament, so that was nice for us. You like to see that happen. Overall, we won more matches then we lost. These guys did well for us, but everybody on the team is holding up on their end and getting better.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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