Norwin wrestlers take down rival Penn-Trafford to clinch WPIAL playoff berth
By: Dave Mackall
Wednesday, January 9, 2019 | 10:24 PM
Norwin scored a rarity for its wrestling program on Wednesday night.
The Knights clinched a WPIAL team playoff berth for just the third time since 1992 in Vince DeAugustine’s first season as their coach.
“Since the beginning of the year, we wanted to do everything we could to make the team playoffs,” said DeAugustine, who took over as Norwin’s coach after a successful run at leading the program at nearby Hempfield.
No. 8 Norwin notched five pins and claimed victories in eight weight classes, and the Knights won at Penn-Trafford, 49-20, to clinch second place in Class AAA, Section 1A.
Kurtis Phipps, the Trib HSSN No. 1-ranked wrestler at 120 pounds, moved up to 126 for Norwin (8-2, 3-1) and scored a 22-second fall over Penn-Trafford’s Luke Paszek. John Altieri (132), Bryce Long (160), Clayton Morris (195) and Zach Cypher (285) also had pins for Norwin.
Nick Coy (152) and John Bachar (182) had pins for Penn-Trafford (2-2, 2-2).
“I’m extremely proud of the way these guys have competed, and the way they continued to compete tonight,” DeAugustine said. “They just continue to get better. They’re a great group of kids, and they’re obviously proud of the fact that they made the playoffs.”
Norwin joins No. 1 Kiski Area in the Section 1A playoff field so far.
“They’ve got a real nice team, and Vinny is a good coach,” Penn-Trafford coach Rich Ginther said. “That is a very well-coached team. They’ve got a lot of youth there, and they’re going to be good for years to come.”
The match began at 182 pounds, where Bachar pinned Norwin’s Jon Ireland at 2 minutes, 48 seconds to give Penn-Trafford a short-lived lead.
Norwin won the next three matches when Morris and Cypher sandwiched falls around a forfeit victory at 220 by Ryan Weinzen.
At 195, Morris pinned Conor Shirey in 1:18, while at 285, Cypher pinned Peyton Kelly in 1:44.
Penn-Trafford’s Troy Hohman scored a 15-10 overtime decision over Norwin’s Connor Henning to avenge a loss to Henning at the recent Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament.
“That was a nice redemption match,” Ginther said.
After Norwin’s Luke Passarelli held on for a 3-2 decision over Ryan Avel at 113, the teams elected to skip the 120-pound bout.
Phipps jumped on Paszek in the first minute at 126 to improve to 17-1 before Altieri pinned Tee Pecora in 2:00 at 132, Chase Kranitz won by forfeit at 138 and Frankie Gill scored a major decision over Wesley Stull, 13-2, at 145, to give Norwin a commanding lead.
“We try to stress getting the fall every time out,” DeAugustine said. “We want to get as many points as possible — team points and individual points. We want to walk away with a high point total. Any time you can put 49 points on Penn-Trafford … I have a ton of respect for Penn-Trafford and Richie’s program.”
Penn-Trafford claimed the 152-pound bout with Coy’s pin over Luke Merkovsky at 1:10 before the teams traded victories to close the match.
Long pinned Luka Johnston at 1:52 of the 160-pound bout for Norwin’s final win, then Tony Zona of Penn-Trafford scored a technical fall over Josh Pace with a score of 17-0.
“The kids are awesome,” DeAugustine said. “It’s awesome to see them cheering for each other. Even in that last match, Josh was down big and he could’ve given up. It wouldn’t have mattered because we had the match won, but he didn’t want to get pinned for the team.”
Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.