PIAA Class AAA wrestling finals to feature 3 all-WPIAL matchups

Saturday, March 9, 2019 | 11:37 AM

HERSHEY — The state wrestling finals will feature some WPIAL tournament reprisals.

Three bouts featuring two WPIAL wrestlers will highlight the championship matches of the PIAA Class AAA tournament, which begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at Hershey’s Giant Center.

The three all-WPIAL bouts — Seneca Valley’s Dylan Chappell vs. Franklin Regional’s Carter Dibert at 106 pounds, Seneca Valley’s Alejandro Herrera-Rondon vs. Franklin Regional’s Finn Solomon at 113 pounds and Franklin Regional’s Colton Camacho vs. Kiski Area’s Darren Miller at 126 — all are rematches from last week’s WPIAL Class AA tournament.

“Obviously, we’re going into that one knowing what he’s going to do, and he’s knowing what I’m going to do,” said Chappell, who beat Dibert, 5-1, in overtime in the WPIAL finals at Canon-McMillan. “It’s going to be tough.

“We’re friends, actually. It makes it a little difficult, but it’s going to be fun, I know that for sure.”

In addition to the three all-WPIAL bouts, five more wrestlers will compete for state titles after winning semifinal matches Saturday morning: Norwin’s Kurtis Phipps at 120 pounds, Kiski Area’s Cam Connor at 152, Canon-McMillan’s Gerrit Nijenhuis at 170, Mt. Lebanon’s Luke Stout at 182 and Upper St. Clair’s Jake Slinger at heavyweight.

The semifinals began with Chappell riding out Council Rock South’s Kyle Waterman in an ultimate tiebreaker overtime period, earning a 2-1 victory, while Dibert beat Connellsville’s Mason Prinkey by 10-1 major decision.

Herrera-Rondon, a defending PIAA champion, won a 6-0 decision in his semifinal match. Solomon overcame an early takedown to beat Hempfield’s Kyle Burkholder, 3-2, in the section rivals’ fourth meeting of the season. Burkholder beat Solomon twice during the season, while Solomon claimed a win by injury default.

“I don’t know if he really wanted to wrestle me, but I wanted to wrestle him,” Solomon said. “I wanted to get after him. I lost to him twice, but I thought I could beat him.”

Herrera-Rondon beat Solomon, 10-1, at the Powerade Christmas Tournament and 3-0 in the WPIAL semifinals.

Camacho beat Canon-McMillan’s Kenny Hayman, 4-1, in the semifinals and Miller beat East Stroudsburg’s Patrick Gould to set up their fourth meeting of the season. Miller won the first two matches, 4-3, in the finals of the Eastern Area Invitational and Section 1-AAA tournaments, but Camacho claimed a 4-2 decision in the WPIAL finals.

Phipps, who is attempting to become Norwin’s first PIAA wrestling champion, beat Council Rock South’s Shane Hanson-Ashworth, 5-3, in overtime with a reversal in the second tiebreaker period.

Connor beat Bellefonte’s Ethan Richner, 9-3, in the semifinals at 152. Nijenhuis, who lost a controversial match in last season’s PIAA semifinals, left no doubt this time with an 8-1 decision over Maximus Hale of Downington West.

“You don’t want to dwell on something like (last year),” Nijenhuis said. “You go back to the drawing board, come back better from it. I feel like that’s exactly what I did, and gave myself a really good opportunity to come away with a gold medal.”

Stout earned his spot in the finals with a 19-4 technical fall victory over Unionville’s Tyler Mousaw, while Slinger beat Central York’s Michael Wolfgram, 9-4, to set up a heavyweight championship bout against a fellow undefeated wrestler, Cathedral Prep’s Kawaun DeBoe.

The marquee matchup of the semifinals came at 132 pounds, between North Hills junior Sam Hillegas and Northampton’s Julian Chlebove, both two-time PIAA champions. Chlebove used a second-period reversal to beat Hillegas, 2-1, dealing Hillegas just the second loss of his high school career.

Other WPIAL wrestlers who fell into the consolation bracket after semifinal losses included Prinkey, Burkholder and Hayman; Latrobe’s Gabe Willochell, who like Hillegas was defeated in the 132-pound semis; and Hempfield heavyweight Isaiah Vance, who lost to DeBoe.

Championship and matches for third/fourth, fifth/sixth and seventh/eighth place will begin at 7.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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