Loaded semifinal bracket at 120 pounds takes shape at WCCA wrestling tournament

Friday, January 7, 2022 | 8:33 PM

There were some wrestling fans who worried there wouldn’t be many exciting matches at the 69th annual Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament this year.

But there is no need to worry. Day 2 of the tournament will bring some intriguing matchups, especially in the 120-pound semifinals Saturday at Kiski Area. The semifinals are slated to begin at 11:30 a.m.

The 120-pound weight class has four outstanding wrestlers in the semifinals: Latrobe junior Vinny Kilkeary, Kiski School junior Sulayman Bah, Burrell sophomore Cooper Hornack and Penn-Trafford senior Troy Hohman. Kilkeary (113) and Hornack (106) are returning champions.

Kilkeary was the 2020 106-pound PIAA champion in Class AAA, Hornack was the 2021 WPIAL Class AA 106 champion and PIAA runner-up and Hohman is coming off a Powerade title at 120 last week and finished fourth in the PIAA in 2020, losing to Kilkeary, 5-0.

Bah, a south Bronx native, said he and his coach decided to move up to 120 for the competition.

“I was planning on dropping to 113 at the beginning of the new year, but I really wanted to make a mark here,” Bah said. “I believe I’m one of the best wrestlers out there, and I wanted to show the world.

“Bumping up to 120, I knew I’d have Kilkeary, Hohman and Hornack. I’m up for the challenge and ready to wrestle them.”

Bah defeated Norwin’s Luke Passarelli, 11-4, in his quarterfinal match Friday. Now he faces Kilkeary.

“This tournament will test me as I prepare for Prep Nationals,” Bah said. “That’s the big goal. For now, I’m focused on this tournament.”

Bah said he felt he could have done better setting up his shots against the talented Passarelli.

“That was a test for me,” Bah said. “If a kid fights back and I’m able to beat them, it gives me more confidence. I have Vinny in the semis, and I feel I’m on top of the world right now.”

Kilkeary, who placed fifth at Powerade, said he knows Bah is tough, like everyone in the tournament.

“I just have to go out and wrestle as hard as I can,” Kilkeary said. “I didn’t look into who was in the brackets too much. I’m just going out and wrestle like I would any other match.”

Kilkeary pinned Hempfield’s Logan Williams at 1 minute, 31 seconds in the quarterfinals.

Hohman and Hornack met once in 2021, with Hohman pulling out the victory. He said he is looking forward to another good battle.

“I’m excited about match,” Hohman said. “Vinny and Sulayman will be good. It’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be fun to wrestle Cooper again. It’s probably the best bracket.”

Hohman had a first-period pin against Mt. Pleasant’s Sean Cain in the quarterfinals, and Hornack pinned Derry’s Brett Klim.

Kilkeary and Hohman both said they learned a lot from competing in the Powerade tournament.

“I love going to tournaments and facing good opponents,” Kilkeary said. “I learned last week that I just can’t push kids around. I had to go back to the room and work on my shots and get confidence to beat them.”

Hohman added: “I learned that I can wrestle anyone. Seeds don’t mean much. Everyone loses, and brackets can change around. I learned a lot about myself that I can hang with the best guys.”

Hornack said he, too, was looking for better competition. That’s why he bumped up.

“The brackets are loaded,” Hornack said. “There should be some good matches in the semifinals. It’s a hard cut to get to 113, but at 120 maybe I can get a little stronger and eat a little bit more. I just want to see how I can compete at that weight class.”

The other past county champions — Hempfield senior Briar Priest (138), Latrobe junior Nate Roth (138), Kiski Area junior Ryan Klingensmith (120), Franklin Regional senior Finn Solomon (145) and Mt. Pleasant senior Dayton Pitzer (215) — advanced to the semifinals with easy wins.

Priest, who lost to Roth in Wednesday’s dual meet, had a pin and a technical fall. Roth had two pins, Klingensmith had a pin, Solomon two first-period pins and Pitzer a :27 second pin.

The Parade of Champions is scheduled for 4 p.m., and the finals start at 4:30 p.m.

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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