Knoch wrestlers look to rebound in individual tournament

Monday, February 21, 2022 | 12:12 PM

The Knoch wrestling team has experienced the ups and downs of the WPIAL season.

A 5-1 mark in section matches gave reason for optimism, but some key injuries heading into the section and WPIAL team tournaments left the Knights and first-year coach Bob Waldron wondering what might have been.

“We had a rash of injuries; there were four or five guys that were out of the sectional tournament,” Waldron said. “When you get to that competitive level, you can’t afford to have that many injuries because you’re going up against teams with full rosters.

“Disappointment came from things that were out of our control, like the injuries. So we weren’t as competitive as we could have been.”

In the Section 3-2A tournament, Knoch fell to Mt. Pleasant, 71-6, and Southmoreland, 40-30, to finish fourth, and lost to Laurel, 60-9, in the first round of the WPIAL team tournament.

The Knights (7-11 overall) started getting some athletes back to health in the last week. They had a competitive match against Indiana on Feb. 9 and picked up a victory at Shaler Area on Friday.

“We had a tight match with Shaler last week; each team had a few guys out,” Waldron said. “Anthony Nicolazzo at 145 started the pace for us. He got a major (victory) over his opponent. Then Wyatt (Foster) was in a close match and turned it around and got a pin victory against a pretty good opponent. That pin ramped up the rest of the team’s enthusiasm.”

However, heading into the individual tournaments this weekend at Canon-McMillan High School, Knoch is mostly healthy, and Waldron is optimistic about his team’s upcoming performance. Only senior Nathaniel Becker is considered out for the season.

“I expect that the guys that will be competing will do well,” Waldron said. “We have a week of practice to prepare and get everyone in tip-top shape. They will need to shake off any lingering injuries from the long season.”

Becker’s absence has been filled by Foster who has been impressive. The freshman is 7-3 in his matches working the 189- and 215-pound weight classes.

“I’m really optimistic about this young athlete in Foster,” Waldron said. “He’s a really good young wrestler, it’s only his third year in the program. He really turns it on. He’s a great competitor. He keeps surprising me, left and right, in competition.”

Senior Nicholas Golab at 126 pounds enters with an 11-12 record for the season. But Waldron said not to let his record deceive: He expects Golab to qualify for regionals.

“He’s put on a lot of muscle in the last year, and he’s just a really strong competitor,” Waldron said. “He’s been going up against some really steep competition.”

Nicolazzo, a sophomore at 145 pounds, has been in and out with a couple injuries this season. He is only 3-7 as missing time has hurt his ability to compete.

Senior Aaron Butler is second on the team in wins with 14 at 152 pounds and also is expected to qualify for regionals.

“(Butler) has shown a lot of good chops in competition,” Waldron said. “He’s probably the best wrestler on the team.”

Another senior, Gavin McGowan, at 160 pounds has had some issues recovering from covid-19 but still leads the Knights in wins with 18.

“McGowan has been dealing with some adversity, but the kid is a great wrestler,” Waldron said.

Senior Logan Klemm, at heavyweight, also picked up a big win against Shaler and has the ability to advance, the coach said.

“Logan is a big, strong kid. If he has a good day, he can move on,” Waldon said.

There are six seniors on the roster, along with a slew of underclassmen.

“This particular group has been wrestling together for 10 years,” he said. “We are coming to the end of an era for some of them.”


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