In final trip to WPIAL tournament, Kiski Area’s Levett finally gets to be the favorite

Wednesday, February 28, 2018 | 10:45 PM

Noah Levett needed just one glance at his weight bracket to confirm the difficulty of his task at the WPIAL wrestling championships the past three seasons.

The presence of the No. 1 wrestlers in the state and, more significantly, perhaps the top high school wrestler in the country the past two seasons, meant Levett entered those tournaments as a decided underdog.

The name he sees on the top line now is his own, and he intends to keep it there.

Levett, a Kiski Area senior, enters his final WPIAL Class AAA championships Friday and Saturday at Canon-McMillan as the top seed at 138 pounds and thus the favorite to win his first title in a crowded bracket.

“The season's coming down to an end, but the two biggest tournaments of the season are the next two weekends,” Levett said. “We're not done yet.

“First in the WPIALs is one of my top goals this year, first in the WPIAL and the state. Those are the two things I really was trying to achieve.”

A three-time WPIAL medalist, three-time PIAA qualifier and two-time PIAA medalist, Levett said he always went into the WPIAL tournament with the goal of winning it all.

There was just one problem: former Franklin Regional wrestler Spencer Lee, perhaps the best pound-for-pound prep competitor in the country, shared Levett's weight class the past two seasons.

Levett (151-32 career, 36-4 this season) finished fourth as a freshman as another former Franklin Regional wrestler, Devin Brown, claimed his second WPIAL and state title. Lee pinned Levett in the semifinals in 2016 as Levett ultimately finished third in the WPIAL. In a rematch in last season's 126-pound championship match, Lee pinned Levett again.

“A lot of kids would have probably ran from him, and a lot of kids did drop and go up, but I'm not really one to run from anyone or cut weight,” Levett said. “So I just tried to compete and see how well I could do against him. If I could hang in there with him, then I could probably compete with anybody else out there.”

Of Levett's 32 career losses, he estimates about half of them came against either Brown, now at WVU, or Lee, now at Iowa. But he said he grew from those matches, outcome aside.

“When I was a freshman, I wasn't like the weakest-minded wrestler, but I broke a lot if I was losing,” said Levett, a Bucknell recruit. “I wasn't used to losing that much, so I really improved mentally. I definitely got stronger, as well.”

The WPIAL seeded Levett first in a topsy-turvy 138-pound bracket, ahead of No. 2 Tim Hritsko of Canon-McMillan and No. 3 Jackson Henson of Waynesburg. Levett beat Hritsko but lost to Henson during the season; Hritsko beat Henson in the Section 4 finals last weekend.

“The bracket kind of went a little crazy for seedings because I beat (Hritsko), (Hritsko) beat (Henson), and (Henson) beat me,” Levett said. “It was just kind of who gets first, second and third, and it worked in my favor.”

So far Levett's progression at the WPIAL tournament has worked like a ladder: fourth, then third, then second.

Can he take the final step?

“I'm always used to saying there'll be next year, and realistically there is no next year,” Levett said. “I've got to leave it all out on the mat this year and try to get that first place.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.


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