Mt. Pleasant’s Pitzer, Frazier’s Lawrence dominate WPIAL 2A tournament

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Saturday, February 19, 2022 | 8:26 PM


Central Valley senior Ambrose Boni was awarded the Outstanding Wrestler award by the Class 2A coaches Saturday at the WPIAL individual championships, but no one dominated the tournament more than Mt. Pleasant senior Dayton Pitzer and Frazier sophomore Rune Lawrence.

Pitzer claimed his third WPIAL title and Lawrence his second in dominating fashion. Pitzer (37-0) record four pins (all in the first period), and Lawrence (29-3) had five pins, all in the first period. His first three Friday were in a total of 25 seconds at Canon-McMillan, and Lawrence did not allow a point during the tournament.

Boni (31-2) won the award because coaches felt he won the toughest weight class (138 pounds). It was Central Valley’s first WPIAL champion. He pinned Elizabeth Forward sophomore Damon Michaels at 5 minutes, 41 seconds.

The top eight in each weight class advanced to the PIAA Southwest Regional on March 4 and 5 at Peters Township.

Pitzer pinned Bentworth sophomore Vitali Daniels at 1:12 in the 215-pound final to become the 80th three-time WPIAL champion. It turned out to be a good day for the Pitzer family as eighth grader Dylan won the WPIAL junior high tournament at Norwin.

“I got to watch him pin his opponent on my phone,” Dayton Pitzer said. “The main goal isn’t to win three WPIAL titles; the main goal is to win states again.

“I’m excited to keep working for the next two or three weeks. The time off gives me time to get better.”

Pitzer actually tried some new things during his semifinal match. His coach, Zach Snyder, wanted him to use an inside trip before pinning his opponent.

“We were working on some things,” Pitzer said. “I just tried to wrestle and have fun.”

Lawrence pinned Quaker Valley senior Mason Diemert in 1:56 in the 172-pound final.

Others to repeat as champions were Quaker Valley senior Patrick Cutchember (189), Laurel junior Grant MacKay (160) and Bentworth sophomore Chris Vargo (120).

Cutchember defeated Mt. Pleasant senior Noah Gnibus, 6-3, and MacKay pinned Beth-Center senior Trevor Pettit in 56 seconds.

Four returning champions did not repeat. They were Burrell sophomore Cooper Hornack, Burrell junior Niko Ferra, Mt. Pleasant sophomore Jamison Poklembo and Carlynton junior Chase Brandebura.

In the battle of returning champions, Bentworth sophomore Chris Vargo (23-2) dominated in the top position and posted a 5-0 win over Hornack at 120 pounds.

The bout was scoreless into the third period when Vargo (23-2) went to work from the bottom position. Vargo recorded a two-point reversal to grab a 2-0 lead and then exposed Hornack’s back to the mat for a three-point nearfall.

Hornack (34-7) was the 106-pound champion last year and placed second in the state. Vargo was the champion at 113 and finished third at states.

“I’m out there trying to make history,” Vargo said. “Cooper is a solid wrestler. He’s no joke. I wouldn’t say I’m great on top, but I’ve won a lot of matches on top. I learned a wrist ride that kids from Blair (Academy, N.J.) use. It works well for me.”

Hornack said he was disappointed that he didn’t score off the bottom.

“I was horrible on the bottom,” Hornack said. “You have to be able to score from the bottom. I need to be better.

“I know there have been wrestlers who didn’t win WPIALs or regions and came back to be a state champion. My goal is to be atop of the podium in Hershey next month.”

One historic run at Burrell ended this season, but an even longer one continued.

Burrell senior Shawn Szymanski used a takedown to defeat Jefferson-Morgan sophomore Chase Frameli, 5-4, at 145 pounds to claim a WPIAL title and extend the school’s streak of WPIAL champions to 23 years. The Bucs saw their streak of consecutive WPIAL team titles end at 15.

Szymanski (28-6) used two third-period takedowns to rally for the win.

Others winning titles were Burgettstown sophomore Parker Sentipal (106), Laurel junior Colin Bartley (113), Elizabeth Forward senior Dylan Bruce (126), Burgettstown junior Joey Sentipal (132), Quaker Valley senior Justin Richey (152) and Burgettstown sophomore heavyweight Joey Baronick.

Southmoreland senior Anthony Govern reached 100 career wins with a victory against Freedom’s Landon Millwood, 9-8, in the third-place match. Scotties coach Dan Boring said PA Wrestling did not credit Govern for two victories before the tournament.

Derry ended up advancing three wrestlers to regionals: Dylan Klim (106), Giovanni Beatrice (113) and Christian Hirak (160). Ligonier Valley advanced two in James Brown (126) and Ryan Harbert (138), who is three wins from 100.

Mt. Pleasant advanced six. Joining Pitzer and Gnibus are Greg Shaulis (132), Poklembo, Connor Johnson (152) and Sean Cain (120).

Joining Govern from Southmoreland are Andrew Johnson (138), Mason Neiderhiser (285), Tristan Ice (152) and Bryson Robinson (172).

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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