Norwin wrestling gets statement win over Franklin Regional
By: Paul Schofield
Wednesday, January 2, 2019 | 9:36 PM
Norwin wresting hasn’t been a perennial WPIAL playoff qualifier since the tournament began in 1979, so when new coach Vince DeAugustine was hired this summer, he wanted to change the team’s attitude.
The No. 9-ranked Knights took a step toward making the Class AAA postseason Wednesday with an impressive 50-24 victory against No. 6 Franklin Regional at home.
The victory improved Norwin to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in Section 1-A. It can clinch a berth in the Section 1 playoffs with wins against Penn-Trafford and Plum. Finishing first or second in the sub-section clinches a berth in the WPIAL playoffs.
Franklin Regional (2-1, 2-1) was overpowered in the upper weights.
The match started at 220 pounds, and the Knights got first-period pins from junior Ryan Weinzen and heavyweight Zach Cypher. Weinzen’s pin was in 17 seconds.
“I might have had a quicker pin before, but I knew Zach and I could start things well for us,” Weinzen said. “I was so pumped up for this match. Coach DeAugustine has done a good job changing the culture here.”
Norwin was trailing 24-18 but closed the match six wins in a row including consecutive pins by Luke Merkovsky (160), Bryce Long (170), Josh Page (182) and Clayton Morris (195).
“Norwin has a very good team from top to bottom,” Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe said. “They have no glaring holes, and they have some superstars. They got bonus where they needed it.”
Franklin Regional won five matches including a pin by Carter Dibert at 106, a technical fall by Finn Solomon at 113 and a forfeit to Colton Camacho at 132.
DeAugustine decided to bump up his lineup when Lebe bumped his.
“We wanted to keep the lineups intact,” DeAugustine said. “Starting at 220 was a good spot for us to start, and our heavyweight, Zach, came to wrestle.
“Once we made the turn, they are super strong from 105 to 145. We wanted to get (John) Altieri and (Zach) McCann, which turned out to be a good match, and we wanted (Chase) Kranitz and (Mason) Spears. We got the matchups we wanted.”
DeAugustine said Norwin has made the playoffs only twice since 1992.
“We preached all week, and we wanted to make sure these guys know a win was a giant first step to achieve our goals,” DeAugustine said.
Phipps said: “We knew we could win this match. We just wanted to prove it. Hopefully with a couple more good matches, we should be able to make the playoffs for the first time in awhile. It was awesome to see the heavyweights get wins.”
The teams turn their focus to the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament Friday and Saturday at Norwin.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at email@example.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.