Kiski Area wrestlers win section title, opt out of WPIAL team tournament

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Monday, February 8, 2021 | 9:26 PM


With all the ups and downs that this wrestling season had to offer, Kiski Area coach Chris Heater took a big sigh of relief after winning the WPIAL Class AAA Section 1 title on Monday.

His Cavaliers won’t be gunning for a WPIAL title, however.

Kiski Area defeated Plum, 42-26, and Penn Trafford, 39-36, to capture the section title in their home gym with two solid team performances.

“Whatever it is, I feel a little bit lighter right now,” Heater said. “This has just been a struggle, and I’m just really thankful for these kids. They went through so many ups and downs, so many on-the-spot changes, and they are kids so they don’t bat an eye at it. But to me it’s a little different. I’m just really proud of their effort because it was a total team effort tonight.”

The Cavaliers earned the right to compete in Wednesday’s WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals, but they won’t be going.

Heater and the Cavaliers will be joining Hempfield, Franklin Regional, Canon-McMillan and Butler as teams that have elected to pull out of the team tournament in order to make sure their kids are able to compete in the individual tournament.

“I wanted to wrestle here because there was something to wrestle for here,” Heater said. “With the format, with everything going on, and Waynesburg has a very talented team, I see nothing but possibly putting my team and my guys that are going to individuals in jeopardy by wrestling past tonight.

“There was a lot on the line for us tonight and my team knew that. We talked yesterday and we all decided as a group that that’s what we were good with.”

Sammy Starr (172) and Carter Dilts (215) were the only Kiski Area wrestlers to pick up pins in both matches. Ryan Klingensmith (126) and Brayden Roscosky (189) earned a pin in one match and won by forfeit in the second.

Then there was 138-pounder Ethan Connor, who was a key factor in both matches. Against Penn Trafford, the wiry junior pinned Penn Trafford’s Brett Hampton in 3 minutes, 17 seconds to put the match away.

During their match with Plum, the Mustangs bumped up their best wrestler, Vince Citrano, and Connor came away with a 6-1 decision.

“He was a game-changer in both matches, honestly,” Heater said. “I was counting on him to get a win against Penn Trafford, and he got a pin.

Then they bumped Citrano up, and he beat him 6-1. I mean he dominated him, and he’s just wrestling really good right now.”

The Cavaliers dominated their first match of the night as they took down Plum. The Mustangs entered the section meeting after No. 4 Franklin Regional dropped out of team competition.

Kiski Area wrestled without 160-pound Powerade champion Enzo Morlacci, who was nursing a few bumps and bruises after this weekend’s Westmoreland County Wrestling Tournament.

Heavyweight Stone Joseph did return to the lineup for the first time this season.

The junior pinned Plum’s Ian Lamia in 16 seconds but dropped his second match of the night to Penn Trafford’s Joe Enick.

“He hasn’t been on the mat at all, and Joe is a good kid. He’s a good wrestler who’s had a lot of matches,” Heater said. “I don’t know if this was the best scenario, but it’s what is right now.”

Kiski Area’s team season may have ended Monday, but Heater thought it was a pretty nice way to wrap it up given the circumstances.

“We’ve won these titles before but I don’t know, this one is pretty darn special because of the group and the roster changes and everything,” Heater said. “I just appreciate the effort.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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