Latrobe wrestling champ Vinny Kilkeary selected Tribune-Review Westmoreland Boys Athlete of the Year

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Saturday, July 1, 2023 | 6:47 PM


Vinny Kilkeary isn’t wasting any time getting started at Ohio State.

The Latrobe graduate reported to Columbus last week and enrolled in two summer classes.

The three-time WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A wrestling champion also is lifting and training in preparation for his first collegiate wrestling season.

He capped off his high school career by defeating Canon-McMillan’s Andrew Binni in the WPIAL and PIAA finals.

Kilkeary also won his match at the Pittsburgh Classic against a Penn State recruit, turning a back trip into a cradle for a four-point move in the third period of his 5-2 victory against Braeden Davis of Dundee, Mich.

“I want to be a freshman NCAA champion, and I couldn’t wait to start the process,” Kilkeary said. “Our summer training is intense. I have to be ready to face former state champions every time I step on the mat. I’m excited.”

Kilkeary also was excited to learn he was selected the 2022-23 Tribune-Review Westmoreland Boys Athlete of the Year.

“That’s awesome,” Kilkeary said.

He edged numerous candidates, including Penn-Trafford’s Dan Tarabrella, Belle Vernon’s Quinton Martin, Southmoreland’s Ty Keffer, Greensburg Salem’s Cody Rubrecht and Greensburg Central Catholic’s Tyree Turner.

Kilkeary, the 2022-23 Trib Westmoreland Wrestler of the Year, was chosen because of his passion and work ethic and for being one of the top wrestlers in the country.

Kilkeary was 29-0 this season and 131-12 in his career, including victories in his last 61 matches. He missed a month of his senior season with an injury to his right elbow but recovered in time to defend his WPIAL and PIAA titles.

“It didn’t require surgery, just a lot of rehab,” Kilkeary said. “Injuries disrupted our chance at a WPIAL team title. I really thought we’d win a WPIAL title and finish top four in the state.”

He said he gets his elbow checked regularly by the Ohio State medical staff.

“I faced some adversity my senior season,” Kilkeary said. “I almost had a season-ending injury. But I trusted the process, and the break helped me reset.

“I jumped the gun at my return to the lineup two weeks earlier than my doctor wanted. I upset my doctor, but my team needed me.”

Kilkeary worked hard to hone his skills and prepare for the individual tournaments at the end of the season.

“Vinny is an amazing kid,” Latrobe wrestling coach Mark Mears said. “He’s very deserving of this award. He has a hunger and passion to be the best.”

Kilkeary also joined an elite group in the state by winning for the third time. He became only the 58th three-time champion in Pennsylvania history.

“You look back at all the three-time champions and realize how special of a moment it was,” Kilkeary said. “It’s pretty special to be part of such an elite group. I’m blessed.”

Kilkeary will be competing for the starting job at 125 pounds at Ohio State this winter.

He said he must get stronger and be ready for a different level of wrestling.

“I’m excited for the challenge,” he said. “I’m ready for it.”

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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