Norwin’s Phipps joins elite group of WPIAL wrestlers
Friday, March 6, 2020 | 5:15 PM
Kurtis Phipps became the 30th wrestler in WPIAL history to win four district titles.
But that wasn’t enough history for the Norwin senior, who wanted to finish his career by winning another gold medal.
He overcame a poor seeding and then pinned Franklin Regional sophomore Finn Solomon and defeated Waynesburg freshman Rocco Welsh to win the WPIAL title on Feb. 29 at Canon-McMillan.
“I saw a lot of people upset with my seeding, but I figured I had two weeks left to show I’m the best,” Phipps said. “We focused a lot this week and how to wrestle Finn. He’s scrappy and hard to score on, so I tried to push the pace and get on him and it worked out.”
Norwin coach Vince DeAugustine said so much time was devoted to beating Finn that now they need to work on how to attack Welsh better.
“Rocco is really good,” Phipps said. “It’s awesome to be a four-time champion. I would have never expected it. Every year since my freshman year it just kept on building.”
Phipps lost to Seneca Valley junior Alejandro Herrera-Rondon, 1-0, at the state tournament in 2018, and to Nazareth’s Sean Pierson, 9-5, after he injured his foot in the semifinals. Doctors advised Phipps not to wrestle, but nothing was stopping him from competing.
Phipps was hoping to become Norwin’s first state champion in wrestling at the PIAA tournament over the weekend, after deadline for this edition.
“I’m excited to get another week of training and I’m excited to return to Hershey,” Phipps said before the tournament. “I’m going to put it all out there, I’m not promising anything, but I know I’m going to wrestle six minutes every single time.”
Norwin had two other wrestlers advance — junior John Altieri placed third at 138 pounds after defeating Seneca Valley’s Chanz Shearer, 9-3, and sophomore Chase Kranitz placed third at 152 after edging North Allegheny freshman Grant Mackey, 2-1.
Senior Ryan Weinzen, a PIAA qualifier in 2019 at 220 pounds, didn’t get a chance to qualify for the state tournament because of an arm injury that required surgery.
Weinzen, however, announced that he’s going to wrestle at Clarion in college.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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