North Hills wrestling ready to battle in Section 3-AAA

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Thursday, December 13, 2018 | 11:24 PM


With only a couple of seniors on its roster of more then a dozen grapplers, the North Hills wrestling team may not be the most experienced group in a challenging WPIAL Section 3-AAA, but that does not mean coach Jose Martinez and his team are planning on letting that hold them back.

On the contrary, the Indians (0-1, 0-1) plan to battle this season. More may be asked of the proven, experienced wrestlers for North Hills. And for their lesser-experienced teammates that are still on the lower end of the learning curve for now, Martinez says he asks one thing of them during matches: don’t make it easy.

“Because of our numbers, we have to harp on bonus points. Our mantra is fight as hard as you can, don’t give up. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, you give it your best and you don’t quit,” the Indians coach said.

“We also have a second mantra, and that is no bonus points and score bonus points. We have to spread our wrestlers pretty thin to fill weight classes, and we tell those wrestlers that we have to get bonus points and not give them up if we want to win.”

While a few wrestlers from North Hills may be more focused on development and preventing bonus points from being scored against them, the team does have a couple of grapplers who should be more then capable of racking up some major decision victories this season.

One of those grapplers is Sam Hillegas, who won both WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA individual championships last season in the 126-pound weight class. This season, the junior is competing at 138 pounds, and already has a major win under his belt after finishing in first place at the Chartiers-Houston Invitational.

“He’s a role model for the less-experienced wrestlers on the team; he’s the best example for how to work. He’s a talented wrestler, he’s accomplished a lot and he comes in and works hard to get better every day,” Martinez said.

“He’s the captain of the team, along with Damon Thompson and Jeremy Macpherson. They lead by example and that’s what the other kids need, especially my ninth graders.”

At 126, Macpherson has also enjoyed some early-season success with his second-place finish at the Chartiers-Houston Invitational. Thompson adds some much needed talent at 220 to a team that lacks depth in the heavier weight classes.

While a lack of experience can be a hindrance in some cases, one of the team’s freshmen is hitting the ground running in his first year on the varsity mat. Matt Serwatka, wrestling at 106 pounds, took first at the Chartiers-Houston Invitational, and continues to improve while being successful, according to his coach.

Other fixtures in the North Hills’ wrestling lineup are Scott Ross at 120 pounds, Andrew Szymczak at 132, Ethan Mikovitz at 145, Zach Slagel at 160 and Ulrich Sobehart at 170.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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