Once healthy, Franklin Regional wrestling should be a team to beat

Saturday, December 10, 2022 | 11:01 AM

It may not happen in the month of December, but the Franklin Regional wrestling team could be a tough team to beat in early 2023.

That’s when Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe sees his team being fully healthy.

The No. 5-ranked Panthers are expected to challenge for the WPIAL Section 3-3A title. Norwin, Penn-Trafford and Thomas Jefferson are also capable of grabbing the title. The Panthers are ranked behind No. 1 Waynesburg, No. 2 Latrobe, No. 3 Canon-McMillan and No. 4 Connellsville.

Franklin Regional returns three PIAA qualifiers, including two medal winners: Tyler Kapusta (fourth at 106) and Juliano Marion (sixth at 189), Nathan Stone (138) was the other qualifier.

The Panthers were scheduled to open the season Dec. 10 at the Chartiers Valley Duals. Lebe said he’ll find out a lot about his team this month as it will compete in the King of the Mountain Tournament Dec. 16-17 at Central Mountain and then open section action at home West Mifflin on Dec. 21.

Franklin Regional concludes the month at the Powerade Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29-30.

“We’re a little banged up right now, but when we get healthy, we’ll be a lot better,” Lebe said. “I feel we’ll be tough to beat and be able to maneuver the lineup better in January.”

The Panthers return nine starters from last year’s squad that finished 10-3 overall and 5-0 in Section 1B. The others back include senior Nico Sarnic (113), senior Justin Bass (126), sophomore Roman Colangelo (152), senior Gavyn Beck (160) and junior Troy McClelland (215).

Also back is junior Dom Colaizzi (113), who returns after missing his sophomore season, and newcomer Luke Ankney (132), a sophomore transfer from Fox Chapel.

Lebe said he expects big seasons from his three returning PIAA qualifiers and has high hopes for Beck, McClelland and Sarnic.

“Everyone should be a lot better,” Lebe said. “They have a year under their belts and have been working hard.

“We have guys that want to get better. We have a lot flexibility with the lineup.”

And while Lebe is looking for another good season, the veteran coach is excited about the future.

“I believe we have the best middle school team in the county,” Lebe said. “We have a lot talented wrestlers in the seventh and eighth grade levels.”

But for now, Lebe and the Panthers are eyeing improvement throughout the season.

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


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