Kiski Area wrestler Morlacci captures title at National High School Coaches Association tournament
Monday, April 1, 2019 | 6:18 PM
Enzo Morlacci experienced wrestling at the national level during his youth days, and he spent plenty of time on the mat against high-level high school competition during his freshman season at Kiski Area.
He merged those elements together for a gold-medal performance in his debut at the high school national championships.
Morlacci won the freshman 152-pound title at the National High School Coaches Association tournament over the weekend in Virginia Beach, Va., winning all six of his matches in his first appearance at the event.
“It’s high school, so it’s a different level,” Morlacci said. “I don’t even know how to describe it because as you get older, you get more used to wrestling the older kids. But at the same time, I was wrestling my own age. So it really showed how you wrestle against kids your own age compared to wrestling seniors.”
The NHSCA High School Championship features six divisions — senior, junior, sophomore, freshman, girls and middle school — and thousands of wrestlers, making it a new environment for Morlacci, who competed at various national tournaments growing up and even qualified for the U.S. Schoolboy Team for the Pan-American Games last summer.
“It was a really fun tournament,” Morlacci said. “The whole atmosphere with almost 5,000 kids was just awesome.”
Morlacci is coming off a freshman season in which he started from the beginning of the season, helped Kiski Area win a third consecutive WPIAL team championship and finished second individually at the Westmoreland County tournament and third at the Section 1-AAA tournament to qualify for WPIALs.
Wrestling at his natural weight class of 152 pounds, Morlacci began the tournament seeded eighth and advanced to the finals by getting two pins, a technical fall, a major decision and a 5-0 decision in his first five matches.
He faced another Pennsylvania wrestler, Nolan Lear of Benton, in the finals. With the score tied 1-1 deep into the third period, Morlacci got a takedown and held on for a 3-2 victory.
“It was an experience,” Morlacci said. “I don’t know how to describe it. We were on a stage in the middle with everybody watching you.
“The whole entire mindset of the match was just to work for that takedown. It was a really close match. It was going to come down to one or two points that either wrestler got. At the end of the match, you just had to keep pushing. Even though you were tired, you had to keep looking for that one takedown.”
Throughout the tournament, Morlacci had Kiski Area teammate Nick Delp in his corner as a coach.
“(It) made me feel great being able to coach him all weekend and help him achieve a big goal of his,” said Delp, who wrestled in the junior division at the tournament, placing sixth at 170 pounds.
Delp finished fifth at nationals last season and had a difficult bracket this time around, but he overcame a loss in the Round of 16 by winning four consecutive matches in the consolation rounds, ultimately finishing sixth after losing by 7-3 decision to Shane Reitsma of New Jersey in the fifth-place match.
“When I lost on the first day I wanted the next best thing, and I wrestled my hardest (while) wrestling five matches in three hours, getting little to no breaks at all, to get me to the fifth- and sixth-place match,” Delp said. “I knew I had a tough match for fifth and sixth because I wrestled that kid at (the Powerade Christmas Tournament). And even though I took sixth I was pretty happy with how I wrestled back.
“I wrestled 10 total matches all weekend, wrestling six state champions and beating four of them. Overall, I think it was a good experience for the future and shows what I need to work on.”
Burrell sophomore A.J. Corrado also medaled at the tournament, placing seventh in the sophomore division at 145 pounds.
Corrado made it to the quarterfinals before dropping a one-point decision to fall to the consolation bracket. He ultimately landed in the seventh-place match, where he pinned Grayston Diblasi of Maryland after a second-period reversal.
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, [email protected] or via Twitter .