Norwin’s Kurtis Phipps ready to defend Powerade titles

Tuesday, December 24, 2019 | 12:39 PM

Norwin senior Kurtis Phipps didn’t have a usual summer wrestling in different major tournaments. He couldn’t.

Phipps spent his summer rehabbing from surgery on his left foot.

“I didn’t start wrestling live until October,” Phipps said. “I wrestled in the Super 32 and didn’t do well. But I feel I’m ready. I’m just taking things as they come.”

The Bucknell commit is off to another good start heading into his biggest weekend of the season, the Powerade tournament Friday and Saturday at Canon-McMillan.

The Powerade tournament is ranked as one of the top tournaments in the country along with the Ironman and Beast of the East.

It pits some of the top wrestlers from the WPIAL and around the state against some of the nation’s best teams. There are 54 teams in the tournament with the late additions of Wyoming Seminary, a private school from Kingston near Wilkes-Barre with wrestlers from around the country, and Christiansburg, Va.

Phipps (7-0, 118-9­) is a two-time champion and should be seeded No. 1 at 126 pounds. In the pre-seeding, he is ranked No. 2 behind Nic Bouzakis of Wyoming Seminary, who was a Powerade champion as an eighth grader at another school.

Other WPIAL wrestlers at the weight class include No. 3 Finn Solomon of Franklin Regional, Ty Cymmerman of Derry, Aaron Edwards of Burrell, Jacob Gardner of Canon-McMillan, Hunter Claycomb of Connellsville and Damian George of Mt. Pleasant.

“He’s looking forward to the competition,” Norwin coach Vince DeAugustine said. “He wants to see how he stacks up against the other wrestlers.”

Phipps said not wrestling in the summer actually may be a benefit in the long run. It gave him time to rehab and work on other things.

“He’s more mature and he’s not looking ahead and putting pressure on himself,” DeAugustine said.

Phipps came close to being Norwin’s first PIAA champion, falling to Seneca Valley’s Alejandro Herrera-Rondon in sudden-death overtime in 2018 and to Nazareth’s Sean Pierson in 2019.

Phipps literally wrestled on one leg against Pierson after injuring a ligament in his foot in the semifinals. Against doctor’s advice, Phipps wouldn’t be denied a shot at wrestling for the state title.

Phipps sustained a Lisfranc injury that required surgery to fix. The recovery time is five months, according to his dad, Andy.

“There are two types of Lisfranc injuries,” Andy Phipps said, “A fracture and a tear. Kurtis had a tear, which is the better of the two injuries.”

He sustained the injury in a 5-3 semifinal overtime win against Council Rock South’s Shane Hanson-Ashworth.

“I’m taking things match by match,” Kurtis Phipps said. “I’m just going to concentrate on competing against whoever I face. Everyone is tough.”

Later in the season, Phipps will have his eye on becoming a four-time WPIAL champion.

Phipps isn’t the only returning champion at Powerade. Back from the WPIAL are Herrera-Rondon and North Hills senior Sam Hillegas, who also is seeking his third title at the tournament.

Non-WPIAL returning champions are Braxton Amos of Parkersburg South (W.Va.) at 220, Reynolds junior Gary Steen at 106, DuBois senior Ed Scott at 138 and DePaul Catholic (N.J.) Connor O’Neil at 160.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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