Led by champ Sam Hillegas, North Hills wrestlers have strong showing at county tournament

Thursday, January 23, 2020 | 5:54 PM

In terms of both the individual performances of its grapplers and its success as a collective group, the North Hills wrestling team made sure it got its money’s worth out of the fiercely competitive Allegheny County wrestling tournament.

Out of 37 participating schools, the Indians (4-5) snared an eighth-place finish in the team standings at the tournament, which was held at Fox Chapel on Jan. 17-18. The North Hills grapplers owed their solid team finish to a number of standout performances, chief among them senior Sam Hillegas first-place showing in the 138-pound weight class. He earned his third straight Allegheny County title with his 9-2 defeat of North Allegheny’s Max Stedeford in the finals.

“He just trains hard and he’s physical out there. Very physical,” North Hills head wrestling coach Jose Martinez said. “Sam just trains and trains, and he knows what he has to do out there.

“He takes it one day at a time, and that’s part of the reason he has so much success. He doesn’t look ahead to the postseason stuff in March until he gets there. He gives it his all one match at a time and that’s what’s gotten him his success at this tournament.”

In addition to Hillegas’ stellar finish, the Indians received a boost from Jeremy MacPherson, who claimed third place in the 132-pound class. MacPherson racked up a 6-1 record while running seven-match gauntlet in the two-day event.

Meanwhile, Matt Serwatka earned a fifth-place finish for himself at 126 pounds, and Damon Thompson collected seventh at 220.

Aaron Pepmeyer (195), Andrew Szymczak (145) and Ethan Uechl (160) each finished in eighth place in their respective weight classes to help round out an all-around team performance for North Hills.

“To place in the top 10 as a team there, you have to perform really well,” Martinez said. “I would say one thing that I was really satisfied with is that every guy contributed to our point total. We had 14 wrestlers and 14 wrestlers scored points for the team.

“It’s the first time in my 10 years here, that I can remember, that I had 14 wrestlers count points toward our score. They wrestled well. I couldn’t ask for more.”


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