Latrobe’s Roth back to full strength after shoulder injury

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | 3:21 PM


Nate Roth was on the verge of qualifying for a trip to Hershey during the 2020 WPIAL Class AAA wrestling tournament.

He was so close, he could taste and smell the chocolate.

Latrobe’s then-freshman lightweight was leading Connellsville freshman Jace Ross, 10-4, in the semifinals when he suffered a shoulder injury.

“In the first minute, I heard a snap, but I kept wrestling,” Roth said. “It progressively got worse.”

Just like that, his season was over. His dream of becoming a PIAA placewinner was gone.

Instead, Roth watched and cheered on teammate and classmate, Vinny Kilkeary, who went on to win a PIAA title.

“I was super excited for Vinny,” Roth said. “He’s such a hard worker, and he puts so much into the sport. I was so proud of him, but that could have been me.”

Latrobe first-year coach Mark Mears, who is the school’s athletic director, said he started to realize late last season the success the Wildcats trio of freshmen — Kilkeary, Roth and Corey Boerio — were having.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he could have placed top three in the state,” Mears said of Roth. “I really think he would have won the WPIAL title.”

Because of the coronavirus, Roth waited two months before Dr. James Bradley could surgically repair his right shoulder. Then, after more than six months of rehabilitation with Robert Clark in Latrobe, Roth started working out.

Roth said he hurt his shoulder (front and back) early in the semifinal match. As it got worse, he had to stop.

“It was a major setback,” Roth said Monday after securing a first-period pin over Derry’s Charles Banks. “I had goals that I didn’t get to finish, but I feel good and I’ve recovered now. But I have bigger goals this year.”

Roth finished 33-5 last season, the final two losses by injury default. This season, Roth is 5-0 with four pins at 132 pounds. He is ranked No. 1 in the Trib HSSN rankings ahead of Hempfield junior Briar Priest.

Roth credits Clark for getting his shoulder stronger than ever.

“I’ve been lifting and getting it stronger,” Roth said. “I’m ready to go.”

Roth said he spent December lifting, running and working out at home.

“He’s a tenacious worker,” Mears said. “He’s back 100 percent. He’s back faster than many expected. He’s an intense young man, and he’s zoned in on wrestling.

“He’s good at all three positions. He’s on the attack, and he’s controlling the tempo of the match. He keeps coming at you. He’s also a great scrambler.”

Roth plans to stay at 132 pounds as the individual portion of the season approaches.

“There are a lot of tough wrestlers in the WPIAL,” Roth said. “There are Dylan (Chappell), Briar and Jace. I didn’t get to face Dylan last year. I just have to keep improving.”

Roth won numerous tournament titles as a freshman: Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association, Hickory and Berkeley Springs (W.Va.).

But it’s the one tournament he hasn’t reached that has him motivated to finish this season on the PIAA podium.

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

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