North Hills wrestlers turn in strong performances at sections

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | 1:30 AM

The North Hills wrestling team put together a strong showing at the Section 3-AAA individual championships Feb. 23 at Fox Chapel, showcasing plenty of improvement across the board.

One wrestler, however, who is hard-pressed to improve on his previous successes is Sam Hillegas. The Indians junior dispatched each opponent he faced by fall or technical fall to earn his third consecutive Section 3-AAA title, this one at 132 pounds. Hillegas added the trifecta of section crowns to a pair of WPIAL and PIAA state titles as he continues to dominate the competition mentally and physically.

“He sees himself as always needing to improve, and as long as you look at things that way, you’re always going to improve,” North Hills coach Jose Martinez said.

“With a lot of wrestlers, they think they’re good enough to get by with something. With Sam, he’s always thinking he needs to dominate his opponent but at the same time, he wants to get better and work on this or work on that. It’s a great mindset that I wish all young athletes had.”

On top of Hillegas’ performance, North Hills saw three more wrestlers finish high enough to get a birth in the WPIAL Class AAA individual championships March 1-2 at Canon-McMillan.

At 106 pounds, Matt Sewatka took fourth place to reach WPIALs. The Indians’ Damon Thompson also grabbed fourth in his 220-pound weight class. Results were too late for this edition.

Besides Hillegas, the highest finisher for North Hills at the Section 3-AAA individual championships was Jeremy MacPherson, who took third place at 126 pounds. For coach Martinez, MacPherson’s finish was another solid sign of improvement for the maturing grappler.

“He had a good tournament. He took third place in a tough weight class, and him taking third is an improvement from last year, where he took fifth. It’s great to see those types of signs,” Martinez said.

“His improvement, along with Damon’s at 220, has been great to see. These postseason tournaments, the competition gets tougher and tougher, so it’s good to see when a guy answers the call. You see these signs in the regular season, but once they show it off in the postseason tournaments, you know it’s for real.”


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