Latrobe decks Butler, Penn-Trafford to reach WPIAL 3A semifinals

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Wednesday, February 2, 2022 | 10:28 PM


Latrobe wrestling coach Mark Mears said he has a simple formula for winning matches.

“Win seven bouts and get four pins,” Mears said. “We’re tough to beat when we do that.”

That formula worked Wednesday night in a 39-26 quarterfinal-round win against a tough Butler squad in the WPIAL Class 3A team championship.

The Wildcats (11-0) got five pins, including two by freshmen Luke Willochell (106 pounds) and Leo Joseph (113), to close out the match.

Butler had pulled to within 27-26 on a pin by heavyweight Jacob Pomykata.

The win puts the Wildcats in the semifinals at noon Saturday at Peters Township against Section 2 rival Connellsville. The Falcons defeated Kiski Area, 42-18.

Latrobe advanced to the quarterfinals with a 41-15 win against Penn-Trafford, while Butler rolled over Armstrong, 49-18.

This is the 10th time that the Wildcats have reached the semifinals. The Wildcats have finished second three times.

Butler has never advanced past the quarterfinals.

“I said all along that Butler would be a team to worry about,” Mears said. “They are well-balanced. We were fortunate that we were able to match up some of our experience with their good guys. We were able to keep matches to decisions where they probably get pins.”

“I don’t know how far we’ll go or how we’ll do at states, but we have kids who rarely get pinned. Someone always comes through. Jack (Pletcher) is not a pinner, but he got one tonight. He’s one of our four horsemen along with (Vinny) Kilkeary, (Nate) Roth and (Corey) Boerio that get pins.”

A key win came at 160 pounds when junior Wyatt Schmucker pulled out a 4-2 victory.

“That was a big swing match,” Butler coach Scott Stoner said. “That hurt us. We were gaining some momentum there. We battled, and I was really proud of our team and how we responded against a high seed.

“We knew we were going to give up some pins. The pin at 138 hurt. I felt we were in a close match until the end.”

Mears agreed that Schmucker’s win was huge.

“That was a toss-up at 160, and it was like our bench willed him to a victory,” Mears said. “I thought that was the last spread on the scoreboard we needed.”

The other key win was Roth at 138, where he rallied to pin Dominic Vivirito in the third period.

The four semifinalists are Waynesburg, Canon-McMillan, Connellsville and Latrobe. All four have qualified for the PIAA team championship, which begins Feb. 7. The finalists automatically advance to Hershey on Feb. 10.

Mears coached Mt. Pleasant to three Class 2A titles (2003, 2005 and 2006).

“Everyone is beat up this time of the year,” Mears said. “The bottom line is the WPIAL is so tight between the top four teams that it’s going to be a war every match.”

Latrobe defeated Connellsville, 38-19, for the Section 2 title Jan. 26.

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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