Latrobe wrestling comes up short of final but wins consolation match

Saturday, February 5, 2022 | 5:44 PM

There are things in life that can be controlled and some things that can’t be controlled.

That’s what happened to the Latrobe wrestling team Saturday in the WPIAL Class 3A team championships at Peters Township.

A hyped up Connellsville team, which had lost to Latrobe in the Section 2 finals Jan. 26, and missing a starter from their lineup was too much for the Wildcats to overcome in their quest to become WPIAL champions.

The Wildcats fell to Connellsville, 37-27, in the semifinals but bounced back to defeat Canon-McMillan, 40-25, for third place.

Making the semifinals automatically put the Wildcats in the PIAA tournament. But to earn a trip to Hershey, Latrobe and Canon-McMillan must win matches Monday.

The Wildcats (12-1) must defeat Pittsburgh City League champion Carrick at 7 p.m. Monday at Carrick. Canon-McMillan (11-5) must beat Cumberland Valley at 6 p.m. in Mechanicsburg.

Heavyweight Wyatt Held missed the championship with an illness. Latrobe coach Mark Mears said he expects to have Held back Monday.

“When you have to adjust your lineup this deep in the playoffs to help cover a hole, that becomes a pretty big task,” Mears said. “We had no other options. You want to make you opponent earn everything they can get.

“And to their credit, they did to us what we did to them the first time, and they came in a wrestled hard. They tried not to get pinned, and they did their job. They got pins, but we gave up too many. I thought we bounced back nicely against Canon-McMillan.”

Connellsville let the Wildcats know early it wasn’t going to be easy.

Evan Petrovich, who was pinned by Leo Joseph in the first meeting, registered a 10-1 win. A match later, Gabriel Ruggieri (126) picked up bonus points with a pin, and later on Zach Bigam (160) picked up a win.

“Connellsville won some key matchups that we won the first time,” Mears said.

Those wins forced Mears to make unwanted moves. Mears gave a forfeit to Jared Keslar at 172 hoping Sam Snyder (189) and Tyler Lynch (215) would get pins. But George Shultz and Dennis Nichelson got a major decision and a pin, respectively, to clinch the match.

The Wildcats did get pins from Luke Willochell (106), Vinny Kilkeary (120) and Nate Roth (138).

Against Canon-McMillan, the Wildcats rallied from an early 15-6 decision to a 40-25 victory. Latrobe got pins from Willochell (106), Kilkeary (120), Roth (138) and Corey Boerio (285). They won eight of the 13 bouts.

“We did a good job refocusing for Canon-McMillan,” Mears said. “We wanted to be in the top three, and we should take care of business Monday.

“Once you’re in the Giant Center, every match is going to be tough. We’ll get Wyatt back, and we’ll be able to reset our lineup. I feel we’re OK.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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