Latrobe’s Vinny Kilkeary claims 3rd WCCA title; Wildcats win team crown

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Saturday, January 7, 2023 | 2:32 PM


Mission accomplished by Latrobe senior Vinny Kilkeary.

The future Ohio State wrestler became the 58th competitor in the 70-year history of the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament to win three titles Saturday when he pinned Penn-Trafford junior Hayden Coy.

It was Kilkeary’s fifth pin of the tournament and ninth of the season. For his effort, he earned the Outstanding Wrestler Award.

Kilkeary had been out of the Wildcats’ lineup since Dec. 3 when he injured his elbow at the Hickory Invitational. He missed the Powerade Tournament last month but wanted to get back for the county tournament for the team and himself.

“This team win was dedicated to Mary Mears (wife of coach Mark Mears and mom of Brock), who suffered a heart attack last weekend,” Kilkeary said. “She means a lot to us.”

Kilkeary said he was just glad to be back on the mat. He was the 10th Latrobe wrestler to win three titles. Tom Bell was a four-time champion.

Kilkeary became the 45th wrestler in the county to win three titles. There are 13 four-time champions.

“Competing in the county tournament has paved the way for many wrestlers in the past that made the NCCAs,” Kilkeary said. “I knocked the rust off after that first match.”

The Wildcats ended up winning the team title for the second consecutive year, and they now have the most titles with 14. Kiski Area has 13.

The Wildcats finished with 219 points and nine placewinners. Franklin Regional was next with 197, followed by Hempfield with 195.5. Penn-Trafford was fourth with 173 and Burrell fifth with 170.

Luke Willochell defeated Franklin Regional junior Tyler Kapusta, 3-0, to win the 114 title. It was his second county title.

Other Wildcats to claim titles were seniors Corey Boerio (215) and heavyweight Wyatt Held.

Boerio defeated Penn-Trafford’s Owen Ott, 4-2, and Held edged Penn-Trafford senior Joe Enick, 3-2, in overtime thanks to what many coaches felt was a questionable call.

Of all the Hempfield wrestlers to win a county title, and there were four, the most rewarding was by senior Charlie Mesich.

“This is incredible,” Mesich said after defeating Kiski Area senior Logan Bechtold, 7-3, to win the 152-pound crown. “I thought I should have been seeded higher, and I believed I could win. I guess I proved the seedings wrong.”

Mesich (12-2) used three takedowns to handle Bechtold. He never trailed in the match.

Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said Mesich had the misfortune to be injured his junior season, and when he returned after surgery, he got mononucleosis.

“Charlie comes to practice and works hard every day,” DeAugustine said. “He battles three hammers (Ethan Lebin, Eli Carr and Lucas Kapusta) every day. This is very satisfying for him. I believe Charlie can compete at a high level. He does everything we ask.”

Carr (21-4) used an escape and takedown to defeat Franklin Regional junior Nate Stone, 4-0, to win the 139-pound weight class. It was his second county title for the junior.

“He was strong and had a lot of flexibility,” Carr said of Stone. “He made it hard. Winning this for a second time proves to me that I can compete against anyone. It also proves my hard work in the room and during the offseason paid off.”

Kapusta proved the third time to be a charm. After finishing second the previous two seasons, Kapusta joined his dad, Brian, and his uncle Jeff as county winners.

The senior used an escape and takedown to defeat Mt. Pleasant junior Jamison Poklembo, 3-1, to win the 145 title.

Hempfield started the finals by winning three consecutive titles. The finals started at 139.

Lebin ended the night by winning his second county title, beating Burrell junior Cooper Hornack, 3-0. Lebin’s win denied Hornack a second title.

Lebin said a couple of minor adjustments made after a disappointing finish at the Powerade Tournament paid off.

“I was looking forward to this tournament,” Lebin said. “I knew I’d face some tough competition, and I worked on new things that will help me the rest of the season.”

Franklin Regional ended up with two champions: senior Gavyn Beck at 160 and junior Juliano Marion at 189.

Beck defeated Latrobe senior Wyatt Schmucker, 7-1, and Marion blanked Kiski Area freshman Cooper Roscosky, 5-0.

Penn-Trafford sophomore Tasso Whipple defeated Burrell sophomore Isaac Lacinski, 8-7, to win the 172-pound crown. He got the winning takedown with 1 minute, 16 seconds left and held off a late attack by Lacinski to secure the win.

Burrell freshman Cam Baker (15-4) defeated Penn-Trafford freshman Dylan Barrett, 9-2. He had four takedowns during the match.

Kiski School senior Sulayman Bah captured the 121 title by defeating Latrobe sophomore Leo Joseph, 10-1. He was the first Kiski School wrestler to win since 2011 when three Cougars took home titles.

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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