Latrobe’s Nate Roth starts strong at WPIAL tournament

Friday, March 3, 2023 | 10:01 PM

It’s been a long and difficult journey for Latrobe senior Nate Roth.

Arguably one of the top wrestlers in the WPIAL, if not the state, he has never made the trip to Hershey for the PIAA individual championships.

Injuries in 2020 and 2022 as well as a controversial slam in the 2021 season kept him from qualifying for states.

Even this season has been slowed as he recovered from an offseason injury. Roth didn’t return to the Latrobe lineup until late January.

But Roth is ready to give it one last attempt at qualifying for the PIAA tournament, which begins March 9 at Giant Center.

Roth (10-1) finds himself in the semifinals Saturday against Connellsville sophomore Lonzy Vielma. Roth needs one win to earn a trip to Hershey.

He was in the same position as a freshman. He was leading Connellsville’s Jace Ross before an injury in the third period forced him to default. He was injured in the PIAA team tournament in 2022.

Roth collected two first-period pins Friday during the opening day for the WPIAL Class 3A and PIAA Southwest Regional Championship at Canon-McMillan.

“I felt good (Friday),” Roth said. “I got to my stuff on top and felt good on my feet. I’m just glad to be wrestling in the sport I love.”

He pinned McKeesport junior Colton Kotouch (52 seconds) and Bethel Park sophomore Ethan Higgins (1:42) at 139 pounds. He is ranked No. 1 in the weight class.

Roth faces Vielma, who defeated North Allegheny’s Nathan Monteparte, 6-3. Roth beat Vielma in the Eastern Sectional last week.

“It’s been a challenge for me,” Roth said. “It’s all up to me. It’s a mental thing right now.

“Beating (Hempfield’s) Eli Carr last week showed me I could beat anyone. It really boosted my confidence.”

Roth said his approach to Saturday is get plenty of rest, eat a good breakfast and mentally prepare.

“This is more than a want for me,” Roth said about getting to Hershey. “I have more drive than anyone. I want it so much with everything I’ve been through. It’s been hard.”

Roth is one of three Wildcats to reach the semifinals. He is joined by sophomore Luke Willochell (114) and senior Vinny Kilkeary (127). Willochell is seeking his second WPIAL title, and Kilkeary, a two-time PIAA champion, is going after his third.

Latrobe has five wrestlers in the consolation rounds.

Hempfield advanced four wrestlers to the semifinals: senior Ethan Lebin (133), junior Eli Carr (139), senior Lucas Kapusta (152) and senior Elijah Binakonsky (215), who crushed the No. 3 seed from Canon-McMillan, junior Geno Calgaro. Binakonsky was leading 14-4 before pinning him at 4:59.

Hempfield has three left in the consolation round.

Franklin Regional had three wrestlers advance to the semifinals. They are junior Tyler Kapusta (114), senior Gavyn Beck (160) and junior Juliano Marion (189). Marion defeated Ringgold sophomore Jake Conroy, 2-1. He lost to Conroy in the sectional last week.

“I was more focused this week,” Marion said. “He’s really good. I felt good coming out of the gate.”

It was the third time they meet. Marion won the first meeting back in January.

“I worked on different things, and it paid off,” Marion said.

Franklin Regional has two in the consolation round.

Penn-Trafford has three in the semifinals and three in the consolations. In the semifinals are freshman Dylan Barrett (107), senior Owen Ott (215) and senior heavyweight Joe Enick.

Ott defeated Latrobe senior Corey Boerio, 4-1, in the quarterfinals. The two met in the section finals last week, with Ott winning.

Kiski Area advanced two wrestlers to the semifinals: senior Ryan Klingensmith at 121 pounds and senior heavyweight Jack Crider.

Klingensmith won a physical battle in the quarterfinals against South Fayette’s Jonny Baiano, 14-3, and pinned West Mifflin’s Bryson Kincaid in 49 seconds.

Crider pinned West Allegheny’s Dom Vennare and defeated Butler’s Ethan Babay, 3-0.

The Cavaliers has three wrestlers in the consolation round, and Norwin has one wrestler left in the consolation round.

There were no No. 1 seeds beaten during Day 1, but No. 2 seed Mason Kernan of Bethel Park fell 5-3 to Connellsville’s Gabe Ruggieri at 133 in quarterfinals, along with Connellsville’s Jacob Layton, who fell to Chartiers Valley senior Brad Joling at 121 pounds, 3-2. … The three seeds to fall were Franklin Regional’s Nico Kapusta (107), West Allegheny’s Cooper Smith (121), Hempfield’s Charlie Mesich (145) and Calgaro (215).

The fourth seeds to lose were Latrobe sophomore Leo Joseph (121), Pine-Richland’s Dom Ferraro (127), West Allegheny’s Nick Jones (133) and Conroy (189).

Notes: There were four wrestlers scratched from the tournament: Penn-Trafford freshman Jake Lang (foot injury) at 114, Norwin freshman Jack White (didn’t make weight) at 127, Norwin sophomore Nick Puskar (decided not to compete) at 152 and Pine-Richland senior Jake Lukez at 160. … The first day of action was done before 8 p.m … Action resumes 10 a.m. Saturday with the second round of consolations; 11:30 a.m. semifinals and 3:30 p.m. finals.

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

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