Kiski Area’s Joseph and Morlacci, Highlands’ Burford qualify for states

Saturday, March 5, 2022 | 8:35 PM

For Highlands senior Jrake Burford and Kiski Area senior Stone Joseph, getting a chance to wrestle in Hershey is a dream come true.

Both qualified for the PIAA championships, which begin Thursday at the Giant Center, along with Kiski Area senior Enzo Morlacci on Saturday at the Class 3A WPIAL/PIAA Southwest Regional at Canon-McMillan.

Joseph placed third in the 285-pound weight class. Burford (145) and Morlacci (160) placed fourth in their weight classes.

The top four wrestlers in each of the 13 weight classes qualified for the state tournament.

Joseph pinned Butler’s Jake Pomykata at 1 minute, 46 seconds. In the blood round to qualify for states he pinned Trinity’s Ty Banco.

“Stone is finally getting a chance to show people what he’s made of,” Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said. “He really had a good tournament.”

Joseph lost to WPIAL champion Billy McChesney of Greensburg Salem, 4-3.

“Placing third is not what I wanted, but considering where I was through the year, I’m happy with it,” Joseph said. “This is the first time I’m going to states, so I’m excited.”

Joseph said he was able to just wrestle and not hold back.

“I was letting it fly,” Joseph said. “I was doing what I do.”

Morlacci ended up fourth, falling to Norwin senior Chase Kranitz, 10-2, at 160.

Morlacci started the day dropping a 3-2 decision in the semifinals to West Allegheny sophomore Shawn Taylor. He defeated Trinity sophomore Brodie Morgan, 6-1, in the blood round.

Burford had a long road to the consolation finals. He lost to Hempfield junior Lucas Kapusta in the quarterfinals, but won three matches to face Kapusta again.

He defeated Thomas Jefferson sophomore Brady Fitz, 9-5, to begin his journey at 145. He then followed with pins of Kiski Area senior Ethan Connor and Butler junior Levi Donnel. Kapusta won the third-place match, 9-0.

“I’ve waited three years now,” Burford said. “Everyone who wrestles in Pennsylvania wants to get to states. I’ve worked hard all season, and I put in all the time and effort, the sweat and all that stuff. So this is the main goal. The feeling of that accomplishment, it’s hard to explain. It’s fulfilling.”

Burford said he looking forward to climbing the ladder at states.

“I want have fun and to get on that podium,” Burford said. “I’m not going to hold back.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at

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