Phipps gets back on mat

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Saturday, January 4, 2020 | 9:13 AM


Norwin senior Kurtis Phipps was back on the mats at the 67th annual Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association wrestling tournament after being injured in the finals at the Powerade tournament the week before.

Phipps was locked in a tight battle with Wyoming Seminary sophomore Nic Bouzakis in the 126-pound final Dec. 28 at Canon-McMillan.

With the score tied 3-3, Phipps stood up to attempt an escape. Bouzakis decided to return Phipps to the mat, but he lifted him up to shoulder level and slammed Phipps to the ground.

Phipps landed on his shoulder and neck area, and Bouzakis was called for an illegal slam, which awarded Phipps a point.

After medical officials would not allow Phipps to continue, he was awarded the win, his third Powerade title, by disqualification.

Phipps is one of 20 wrestlers to win three Powerade championships.

“It (stinks) because I didn’t want to win this way,” Phipps said. “My head hurt, but I told them I was fine and I wanted to continue.”

Bouzakis and his coaches showed class by not protesting the call. Both wrestlers shook hands and didn’t appear to have hard feelings.

“It’s wrestling. Sometimes things happen like that,” Phipps said. “It’s awesome to be a three-time champion. I just wish I could have showed it.”

Phipps was seeded No. 1 at 126 pounds for the county tournament Jan. 3-4, as he was looking to win his second title. He lost to Burrell junior Ian Oswalt last season.

Norwin’s John Altieri and Ryan Weinzen also were seeded No. 1 for the county tournament, which took place at Kiski Area.

Altieri was the top seed at 138 and Weinzen was the top seed at 182. Altieri placed sixth at Powerade and Weinzen placed fourth.

Phipps was one of only five WPIAL wrestlers to claim individual titles at Powerade, a tournament that boasts a strong field with competitors from all over the country.

Wyoming Seminary, a national prep power near Wilkes-Barre, won the team title with five wrestlers in the finals and two champions. Malvern Prep, another strong wrestling school from Chester County, was second in the team race. West Virginia’s Parkersburg South and District 10 power Reynolds were also among the top 10 teams.

Waynesburg was the top WPIAL school, finishing third behind a championship performance from 106-pounder Mac Church and four other placewinners.

Norwin finished ninth in the team race.

Latrobe 132-pounder Gabe Willochell pulled off the biggest upset, beating two-time state champ Alejandro Herrera-Rondon of Seneca Valley, 2-0, in an ultimate tiebreaker.

“I wrestled well in the entire tournament,” Willochell said. “I just tried to score as many points as I could. Two was enough. It feels real good to win a Powerade title.”

Canon-McMillan’s Gerrit Nijenhuis (182) and Mt. Lebanon’s Luke Stout (195) also won individual titles.

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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