Penn Hills wrestling team, ‘self-motivated’ senior look forward to more normal season

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Sunday, November 14, 2021 | 11:01 AM


AJ Palumbo and the Penn Hills wrestling team had the same unfortunate experience as many others did during the pandemic last season.

Matches were canceled, schedules were changed, and nothing was normal for the Indians. Palumbo, a 220-pound senior, wrestled one match last season. Penn Hills finished with three wrestlers on the roster and didn’t have anyone qualify for a truncated WPIAL Class 3A championship tournament.

Indians coach Jeremy Packer said he’s not worried about Palumbo missing out on so much experience on the mat.

“He’s self-motivated,” Packer said. “He works out on his own, plus he puts his time in. He’ll be ready when the time comes.”

The Indians will open their season Dec. 10 at the Eastern Area Invitational.

Penn Hills will have 11 wrestlers on the roster, all looking to help the program move forward. The Indians are in sub-section 1B this year and will have to match up with Franklin Regional, Gateway, Penn-Trafford, Plum and Woodland Hills during the regular season.

The Indians will be able to fill most of the weight classes, but a bulk of their roster is kids between 130-145 pounds.

“We’re just hoping to have them improve from the beginning of the year to end of the year,” Packer said. “I’m not sure if we are ready to compete yet as a team. Our junior high numbers are looking good. We have seven or eight freshmen we are keeping on junior high.”

What Penn Hills will return is five wrestlers with experience. Owen Templer (138 pounds), Dom Frollo (145/152), Aiden Pham (195) and Palumbo will look to take steps forward.

Because of the pandemic, the WPIAL shortened the wrestling postseason and didn’t have the traditional section tournament to determine WPIAL qualifiers.

Packer’s hoping with a full season under his belt, Palumbo will be able to make a deep run through the individual tournaments.

What will help Palumbo is his speed.

“His strength and agility,” said Packer about Palumbo’s strengths. “He’s an athletic kid. He’s been wrestling for a long time. His experience, strength and agility will help him throughout the season.”

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