Kilkeary, Vance, Morlacci claim Powerade wrestling titles

Saturday, January 30, 2021 | 8:37 PM

Like many high school athletes, Latrobe sophomore Vinny Kilkeary is just happy to be competing this season.

The coronavirus has delayed and even canceled a lot of high school athletics the past year. For now, athletes are getting a chance to compete.

Kilkeary showed why he is the top ranked 106-pound wrestler in the country (Flo-Wrestling) by winning his first Powerade Tournament on Saturday at Monroeville Convention Center.

The tournament originally was to be at Canon-McMillan High School but was moved to Monroeville. The original dates were Dec. 28 and 29 but delayed a month when Gov. Tom Wolf halted high school athletics in December.

“I say we’ve been lucky that we were able to hold it,” tournament director Frank Vulcano Jr. said. “We didn’t know who would be able to attend.”

There were 43 teams entered. Connellsville, Burrell, Pine-Richland, Notre Dame-Green Pond, General McLane and Brunswick, Ohio, pulled out this week.

Kilkeary (11-1) dominated the 113-pound division, defeating Waynesburg freshman Joseph Simon, 10-1, in the finals. Earlier in the day, he posted a 16-1 semifinal win against Hickory’s Justin O’Neill and a 7-2 win against Kiski Area’s Antonio Giordano. He is the returning 106-pound PIAA Class AAA champion. He finished eighth at Powerade in 2019.

“I’m just glad I got to wrestle,” Kilkeary said. “He was a super tough kid. I just want to thank this experience because I didn’t know if I’d get a chance.”

Kilkeary picked up two five-point moves, one in the second period and one in the third, to put away Simon.

“The key for me is keeping my head right and believing I could do it,” Kilkeary said. “I feel great when I get to my stuff, get to my moves and dictate the match and control the pace.”

Kilkeary said he and his coaches talk a lot about setting the pace.

“That’s our mentality, go at it and what happens, happens,” Kilkeary said. “You have to go out and control the match.”

Hempfield senior heavyweight Isaiah Vance won his first Powerade title with a 5-2 overtime victory and Malvern Prep senior Cole Deery. Vance lost to Deery in the 2019 final.

The score was 1-1 through three periods and remained tied in the overtime tiebreaker periods. Vance took down first, and Deery was called for a clasp and penalized a point. Vance then escaped for a 3-1 lead.

In the next 30-second period, Vance allowed Deery to escape and then got a takedown at the buzzer.

“I worked a lot harder this season that I did last year, and it showed on the mat,” Vance said. “This was a really big win for me. It gives me more confidence and shows I can do it. Cole was a really strong opponent, and I knew from the start that I had to keep the movement up on him.”

Kiski Area junior Enzo Morlacci began the finals with a 3-1 victory over Norwin junior Chase Kranitz.

Kranitz escaped for a 1-0 lead in the second period, but Morlacci pushed the pace and got a takedown with 34 seconds left in the period for a 2-1 lead. He got another escape in the third period.

Morlacci, unseeded, worked his way through the bracket to collect the title at 160.

“I was a little surprised that I wasn’t seeded because I was the only national-ranked wrestler,” Morlacci said. “So I used that as motivation. I was disappointed that A.J. (Corrado, Burrell) and Cole (Spencer, Pine-Richland) weren’t here. I would have been ready to face them.”

Kranitz said he was pleased with his performance in the tournament and is looking for a possible rematch next week at the Westmoreland County Wrestling Tournament at Kiski.

“I wouldn’t mind another shot at Enzo,” Kranitz said. “I was able to slow him down, but it also slowed my offense down. I have things to work on.”

Mt. Pleasant junior Dayton Pitzer, making his first Powerade appearance, lost to the country’s No. 1-ranked wrestler at 216, Malvern Prep senior Nick Feldman, for the second time this season. He lost 11-4.

“I closed the gap a little,” Pitzer said. “He’s outstanding, very strong and quick. I learned from this experience.”

Frazier freshman Rune Lawrence dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision to La Salle, Ohio, senior Dillon Walker at 172.

Other WPIAL wrestlers to win titles were South Park senior Joey Fischer (126), Waynesburg junior Cole Homet (138), Waynesburg senior Wyatt Henson (145) and Seneca Valley senior Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (160).

Fischer defeated La Salle, Ohio, senior Dustin Morris, 5-4; Homet held off La Salle, Ohio, junior Jake Niffenberger, 5-4; Henson rolled over Seneca Valley senior Chanz Shearer, 11-5; and Herrera-Rondon topped Waynesburg sophomore Rocco Welsh, 9-4. Herrera-Rondon was named outstanding wrestler.

Malvern Prep was the team champion with 245.5 points, Waynesburg was second with 225.5, Seneca Valley was third with 178.5 and Hempfield was fourth with 138.5.

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

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