Norwin wrestlers set big goals for postseason tournaments

Friday, February 14, 2020 | 7:44 PM

Norwin’s wrestling team wants to keep establishing program records this year.

The Knights picked up a program-best 18 dual meet wins and advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA team tournament.

Norwin beat West Mifflin, 51-18, in a preliminary match, but fell to Canon-McMillan, 55-17, in the first round. Though team competition is done, the Knights are eager to begin individual action Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Section 1 tournament. Norwin sent a program-record 10 wrestlers to the WPIAL tournament last year.

“It was a fun year. The guys were able to accomplish some big things as a team,” Norwin coach Vince DeAugustine said. “Throughout the season, we wanted to accomplish individual goals and then the team goals would take care of themselves. We’re in the toughest section, probably, in the state. We got our butts kicked a couple times, but we grew from it and got better from it. That’s all that matters.

“Now, we’re really excited for the individual tournaments. We have some guys that have some big goals. We’re excited to be able to get to the postseason and show off the hard work we’ve put in throughout the year.”

Kurtis Phipps leads the way for Norwin. The senior is a three-time WPIAL champion, two-time section winner and two-time PIAA finalist. The Bucknell recruit is looking to claim all three titles this year. DeAugustine knows that path isn’t an easy one, though.

“Our goal is to take it one match at a time. Our first goal with Kurtis is to win a section title and move on to WPIALs and then win that title,” he said. “After that, we’ll concentrate on a state title. We don’t want to be looking too far ahead. He is an intelligent wrestler with a great work ethic. We look forward to some big things from him.”

Senior Ryan Weinzen captured a WPIAL title and reached the PIAA quarterfinals last year. Injury may prevent him from making another run.

“His elbow is a little dinged up,” DeAugustine said. “We’re waiting on word to see if he can compete in the postseason.”

Junior John Altieri just missed qualifying for the PIAA tournament last year. He finished sixth in the WPIAL.

“We’re really looking forward to him getting over the top and getting to Hershey,” DeAugustine said.

Sophomore Chase Kranitz missed last postseason with an injury. DeAugustine is eager to see what he can do at 152.

“He has been competitive with some of the best kids around,” he said. “We’re looking for him to peak at the right time.

“The younger guys have good role models in those four guys,” he continued. “Some of them are quiet leaders, and some are vocal leaders. The bottom line is that they’re all leaders, and that’s what you need for a successful program. We want that leadership coming from the kids as well as the coaches. One of the things I saw change since I came to Norwin is that the kids have become leaders, and it’s rubbing off on some of the younger guys.”

Seniors Frankie Gill and Clayton Morris and sophomore Josh Page qualified for the WPIAL tournament last year. Sophomores Conner Henning and Luke Passarelli could make postseason runs, too.

“They have their work cut out for them, but they have the ability to do big things,” DeAugustine said. “I think we work really hard as a team. I am hoping to surprise some people in the postseason.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.


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