Norwin’s Landon Sidun keeps Westmoreland County streak alive by winning PIAA title

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Saturday, March 9, 2024 | 8:23 PM


HERSHEY — Thanks to Norwin freshman Landon Sidun, the streak of PIAA wrestling champions from Westmoreland County has reached 30 consecutive years.

Sidun (42-2) secured that milestone by rallying from an early takedown to defeat Ridley junior Curtis Nelson, 6-3, in the Class 3A 114-pound final Saturday at Giant Center.

Nelson (41-3) was having a great tournament that included a last-second victory against Butler sophomore Santino Sloboda in the semifinals. Sloboda defeated Sidun with a late reversal in the WPIAL finals a week ago.

But Sidun stayed in the center of the mat and slowed down Nelson’s attack after that early takedown. When he got on top of Nelson, he wore him down.

After the takedown Sidun quickly escaped and then took a 3-2 lead with a takedown with 35 seconds left in the opening period. In the second period, Sidun escaped for a 4-2 lead.

Nelson got an escape early in the third period to trim the lead to 4-3, but Sidun waited for Nelson to make a move. When he did, he took the Ridley wrestler down with 25 seconds left to secure the win.

“I’ve looked forward to this moment all year,” Sidun said. “Finally to get out there and get it out of the way is awesome.”

Sidun said he didn’t think much about his first takedown because he got away right away. He just went about his work.

“I knew my offense would win this match for me,” Sidun said. “I felt him tire out when I was on top of him. I beat him up on top a little bit and made him not want to go as much.”

Since placing third at Beast of the East in December and winning a Powerade title a week later, Sidun has been favored to win the state title. He was ranked No. 1 in the country prior to his loss last week to Sloboda.

“He’s handled the pressure well all season,” Norwin coach Kyle Martin said. “You see guys expected to win here get beat left and right. You just have to trust your training and everything that you’ve done to this point. You can’t let the environment get too big for you. He’s the best at that.”

Sidun is the second wrestler from Norwin to win a state title. The first was Kurtis Phipps in 2020.

Franklin Regional senior Tyler Kapusta was having a great tournament, but he gave up a questionable takedown in overtime and dropped a 3-1 decision to Bethlehem Catholic sophomore Keanu Dillard.

Despite the loss, Kapusta wasn’t disappointed with his effort.

“I had a good opponent, and we wrestled a smart match and we didn’t want to make a mistake,” Kapusta said. “Yes, I thought I did a little more work and I controlled the center and I tried to get to my stuff a little more. It didn’t work out.”

Kapusta said his hands did touch the mat, but he felt there could have been reaction time.

“I’m not too worked up about it,” Kapusta said. “I’ve been saying all year that I’m the guy, and I believed I was the guy and I still believe that. I got to wrestle all these tough kids, and it was a great opportunity for me all week.”

Hempfield senior Eli Carr placed third at 152 pounds. The Brown commit said he’s not very disappointed because the top two wrestlers were better than him.

“I got bullied in my semifinal match,” Carr said. “I have to keep improving and getting stronger. I feel I’ll do that in college. Overall, I’m pleased with my performance.”

Other placewinners from the county in Class 3A were: Latrobe juniors Luke Willochell and Leo Joseph and freshman Hunter Snyder, Penn-Trafford senior Hayden Coy, Kiski Area sophomore Cooper Roscosky, Norwin senior Nathan Campbell and Franklin Regional senior Juliano Marion.

Willochell placed fifth at 121. Joseph, who collected his 100th career victory during the tournament, placed eighth at 114, and Snyder was sixth at 172.

“I’m not too disappointed,” Willochell said. “It was a very tough weight class, and I battled two of the best in the state. I just have to get stronger for next season if I want to reach the top of the podium.”

Joseph said he was pleased to place despite nursing an injured hand. He knows he must continue to work harder for a better result in 2025.

Coy finished eighth at 145, Campbell was fifth at 189, Roscosky was sixth at 189 and Marion was fifth at 215.

In Class 2A, Burrell sophomore Cam Baker placed sixth at 107, Burrell senior Cooper Hornack was sixth at 139, Derry freshman Mason Horwat was sixth at 145 and Mt. Pleasant sophomore Dylan Pitzer was fourth at 285.

Thomas Jefferson junior Maddox Shaw and Pine-Richland junior Vaughn Spencer won their first state titles.

Shaw defeated Central Mountain’s Dalton Perry, 3-1, in the 145-pound title match, and Spencer rallied to defeat Trinity senior Bodie Morgan, 8-5, in the 172-pound final in Class 3A.

Frazier senior Rune Lawrence and Central Valley senior Brenan Morgan won Class 2A titles.

Lawrence became the 14th four-time champion and seventh from the WPIAL to do so when he defeated Muncy junior Austin Johnson, 6-3.

Lawrence (33-1, 145-8) took control of the match with an escape and takedown in the second period for a 3-0 win. After Johnson, the returning 215 champion, got an escape to start the third period, Lawrence put the match away with another takedown.

Morgan became the first Central Valley wrestler to win a state title, and he joins his dad, Bruce, as a state champion. His dad, formerly of Connellsville, won his title in 1990 at Cameron County.

Morgan defeated Berks Catholic senior Brody Kline, 6-4.

Bentworth senior Chris Vargo lost in the finals at 127 to Bishop McCort’s Jax Forrest, 15-0.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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