Kiski Area’s Klingensmith wins WPIAL Class 3A wrestling title

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Saturday, March 4, 2023 | 9:41 PM


It turned out to be quite a weekend for the Kiski Area wrestling program.

After a subpar regular season for the Cavaliers, the individual tournament brought out a different animal.

Senior Ryan Klingensmith dropped two weight classes over the past month and earned the 121-pound title at the WPIAL/PIAA Southwest Regional on Saturday at Canon-McMillan.

Klingensmith won his first title by easily whipping Chartiers Valley senior Brad Joling, 11-2. Klingensmith used a five-point move (reversal and three-point nearfall) in the second period to take a commanding lead.

“I thought it would be hard for me to get to 121 pounds. I was thinking 133,” Klingensmith said. “But 127 and 133 was loaded with tough wrestlers, so coach (Chris Heater) convinced me to go with the weight cut and it was worth it. It was a gradual cut.

“It’s really exciting to be a WPIAL champion. My family was excited. It was tough the past three seasons because I always was faced with tough matches.”

So Klingensmith decided to change his approach and wrestle to his strength.

“I’m very excited to be headed to Hershey,” he said. “This is a first for me. I just want to do my best.”

He’s not the only Kiski Area wrestler heading to the PIAA individual championships that begin Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey. Sophomore Mark Gray (172) and senior heavyweight Jack Crider also will be heading east.

Gray finished third, and Crider placed fourth. Freshman Cooper Roscosky finished sixth, losing in the blood round to Franklin Regional junior Juliano Marion at 189.

“Cooper just missed,” Heater said. “He made it a lot closer this time than when he lost to Marion at counties.

“Ryan wrestled great, and Mark was outstanding. I’m glad Jack decided to wrestle because he was thinking about skipping the individuals. I’m glad he didn’t. I’m very pleased with the effort.”

Latrobe senior Vinny Kilkeary and Waynesburg senior Mac Church joined an elite group.

They became the 86th and 87th members of the three-time WPIAL champions club.

Kilkeary (25-0) won his third consecutive by dominating Canon-McMillan junior Andrew Binni, 10-4, in the 127-pound final.

Church defeated West Allegheny senior Nico Taddy, 8-3, in the 145-pound final. His previous titles came in 2020 and 2022.

Latrobe sophomore Luke Willochell claimed his second consecutive WPIAL Class 3A title with a hard-earned 5-4 victory against Franklin Regional junior Tyler Kapusta in the 114-pound final.

Willochell, who gave up a reversal, used a takedown in the third period to pull out the win. It was the third time this season Willochell has defeated Kapusta.

Waynesburg senior Rocco Welsh (172 pounds) won his second consecutive title with a default victory against Canon-McMillan senior Matt Furman. He was leading 12-3 when the match was stopped by Canon-McMillan coach Brian Krenzelak. Welsh (39-0) was named the outstanding wrestler.

Two others, Hempfield senior Ethan Lebin and Chartiers Valley senior Dylan Evans, were denied their second titles.

Lebin dropped a 2-1 decision to Thomas Jefferson sophomore Maddox Shaw at 133, and Evans fell to West Allegheny junior Shawn Taylor, 3-2, in the ultimate tiebreaker.

Canon-McMillan junior Tanner Mizenko was not pleased with his seeding or ranking this season. So the No. 2 seed went out and showed people what he was made of when he pinned No. 1 seed and unbeaten Butler freshman Santino Sloboda in the second period of the 107-pound weight class.

Winning their first titles were Hempfield junior Eli Carr (139), West Allegheny senior Ty Watters (152), Pine-Richland sophomore Vaughn Spencer (189), Waynesburg senior Eli Makel (215) and Trinity senior heavyweight Ty Banco.

Carr used a five-point move in the last 15 seconds to stun Latrobe senior Nate Roth, 6-5. Roth used a five-point move in the third period to take a 5-1 lead.

Watters jumped on Hempfield senior Luca Kapusta early and recorded a pin.

Spencer (27-0) continued to shine with a 5-1 win against Waynesburg junior Brody Evans.

Makel showed why he’s the top 215-pounder in the WPIAL with a 5-1 victory against Armstrong senior Connor Jacobs, and Banco used a hip toss to pin Penn-Trafford senior Joe Enick in the first period.

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 pschofield@triblive.com.

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