Latrobe’s Vinny Kilkeary wins 3rd PIAA wrestling title; 3 others from WPIAL claim championships

Saturday, March 11, 2023 | 10:15 PM

HERSHEY — You never know what type of celebration you’ll get from a wrestler after winning a PIAA title.

Latrobe senior Vinny Kilkeary’s celebration was uplifting Saturday at the Class 3A championship at Giant Center.

After Kilkeary beat Canon-McMillan junior Andrew Binni, 8-5, to win the 127-pound class, coach Mark Mears and assistant Paul Snyder hoisted him above their heads to celebrate his third state title. Kilkeary stood out the entire tournament.

Kilkeary (29-0, 131-12) became the 58th three-time champion in the state. Earlier in the day, Frazier junior Rune Lawrence and Wyoming Area senior Jade Pepe joined the list in Class 2A.

He joins Latrobe graduate Luke Pletcher as a three-time champion.

“That’s pretty good company,” Kilkeary said. “When I won as a freshman, Luke Facetimed me after he won Big Tens.”

Kilkeary came out quickly against Binni, whom he defeated in the WPIAL final a week ago, with a takedown in the first 10 seconds. He added two more takedowns in the first period to build a 6-2 lead.

The lead went to 7-2 early in the second period before Binni got a takedown to make it 7-4.

Binni missed a couple of takedown attempts late in the second period, which forced Kilkeary to change his attack and secure the win.

Kilkeary said when he was a freshman, he was a nervous wreck. Before this year’s final, he was calm and cool.

“I was laying in my bed, and I wasn’t shaking,” Kilkeary said. “I felt cool. I told my dad that that this was the coolest I’ve felt before a big match let alone a state final match.

“Over time, I’ve changed my style. I’m so excited to get to Ohio State. I can’t wait to get started.”

Kilkeary said he got overzealous in his match, and he had to change.

“I changed my stance and moved my feet more,” Kilkeary said. “It means the world to win three state titles. You see where three-time champs go through college. It’s a huge stepping point.”

Waynesburg senior Mac Church was denied his third title when he dropped a 7-1 decision to Quakertown sophomore Collin Gaj, who successfully stopped Church’s attacking style. Church was penalized twice in the match for hands to the eyes.

Church said Gaj was a great wrestler and deserved to win.

West Allegheny senior Ty Watters, Chartiers Valley senior Dylan Evans and Waynesburg senior Rocco Welsh became two-time champions.

Watters dominated Central Dauphin junior Ryan Gavrick in posting an 11-3 victory.

Gavrick came into the finals allowing only five points. Watters had that by the second period.

Evans defeated West Allegheny junior Shawn Taylor, 3-2, in ultimate tiebreaker on a penalty point to win the 160-pound weight class.

Evans seemed stunned the way the match ended, and his second victory was sort of bittersweet. He stood in the middle of the mat with his head down.

“It’s great to win states, especially for the second year in a row, but,” Evans said. “I mean it’s not how I wanted it to end. I’m grateful, I’m happy but at the same time, I’m not ecstatic.

“I know there were a lot of boos in the crowd, and it’s not really what I try to stand for. I’ve wrestled Shawn five times now, and he’s is a great competitor. We went into four overtime matches for a reason.”

An official spokesman said Taylor was creating the stoppage by standing up, and action was stopped for a potentially dangerous position, and if a wrestler continues that, he gets warned and then called for stalling.

“When they stopped the action, I thought I was getting called,” Evans said. “I wish Shawn the best his senior season.”

Welsh (43-0, 160-14) wrestled Canon-McMIllan senior Matt Furman for the fourth time this season and posted a workmanlike 9-2 victory in the 172-pound final. The Ohio State recruit dominated from the start and was always in control.

WPIAL placewinners

The WPIAL had 52 Class 3A wrestlers qualify for the PIAA wrestling championships and finished with 32 placewinners.

First: Vinny Kilkeary, Latrobe (127), Ty Watters, West Allegheny (152), Dylan Evans (160), Rocco Welsh (172).

Second: Andrew Binni, Canon-McMillan (127), Maddox Shaw, Thomas Jefferson (133), Mac Church, Waynesburg (145), Shawn Taylor, West Allegheny (160), Matt Furman, Canon-McMillan (172).

Third: Anthony Ferraro, Pine-Richland (133), Brody Evans, Waynesburg (189),

Fourth: Santino Sloboda, Butler (107), Brady Joling, Chartiers Valley (121), Ethan Lebin, Hempfield (133), Eli Carr, Hempfield (139), Eli Makel, Waynesburg (215), Joe Enick, Penn-Trafford (285)

Fifth: Luke Willochell, Latrobe (114), Tyler Reihner, Trinity (139), Lucas Kapusta, Hempfield (152), Joey Schneck, Pine-Richland (285).

Sixth: Gavyn Beck, Franklin Regional (160), Ty Banco, Trinity (285).

Seventh: Tyler Kapusta, Franklin Regional (114), Ryan Klingensmith, Kiski Area (121), Nate Roth, Latrobe (139), Nico Taddy, West Allegheny (145), Mark Gray, Kiski Area (172), Connor Jacobs, Armstrong (215),

Eighth: Connor Smith, Seneca Valley (114), Gabriel Ruggieri, Connellsville (133), Owen Ott, Penn-Trafford (215).

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

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