Pine-Richland captures Allegheny County team title with nail-biting victory
Saturday, January 18, 2020 | 10:52 PM
Pine-Richland coach Caleb Kolb was on pins and needles throughout the championship rounds Saturday night at the Allegheny County wrestling tournament.
The Rams were in a tight battle for the team title. After Anthony Ferraro earned a 14-0 major decision at 106 pounds over Montour’s James Walzer, the Rams needed a championship to win, and they had three chances to do so.
But it didn’t come easy.
First, No. 1 seed Kelin Laffey lost to Highlands’ Jrake Burford — a wrestler he had beaten twice in the past — at 132 pounds. Then, previously unbeaten Nate Lukez fell to Mt. Lebanon’s Jackson Gray by a 5-4 decision at 145 pounds.
“It seemed like the wheels were falling off there for a bit,” Kolb said. “Then, with Lukez, I mean if I was a betting man, I’d put my money on him in anything. The kid is just amazing. So when he lost that, we were like, ‘Oh boy.’ ”
The Rams were left to depend on captain Cole Spencer to bring home the team title, and he was set to take on Quaker Valley’s Conner Redinger in the 152-pound championship.
Heading into the tournament, the 152-pound class was seen as one of the toughest with wrestlers such as Spencer, Redinger, North Allegheny’s Grant MacKay and Omar Williams from Keystone Oaks. But Redinger and Spencer, the top two seeds, made it to the finals.
With the tournament on the line, Spencer stepped up and recorded a 3-0 victory.
“I knew it came down to me,” Spencer said. “I mean, there weren’t any real nerves. It would’ve stunk if we didn’t come away with it. But we got it done and took home the team title.”
With Spencer’s victory, the Rams prevailed over North Allegheny, 223-222.5. It is just the second county title in Pine-Richland history. In his second year as coach, Kolb was at a loss for words.
“Honestly, I keep telling people I’m speechless,” Kolb said. “I don’t think anyone expected Pine-Richland to come out swinging like that, and I mean it was a half-a-point that we won by. But it was a team effort. All those matches yesterday where we accumulated bonus points paid off tonight, and it’s great to see it.”
On Saturday, Mt. Lebanon’s Luke Stout became the fifth wrestler in the history of the Allegheny County tournament to win four titles.
He accomplished the feat with an 8-3 decision over Bethel Park’s Luke Montgomery in the 195-pound championship.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Stout said. “At the beginning of the season I wrote it down, to come out here and get it done. So it’s nice to accomplish that.”
Stout has won county titles at 152, 160 and 182.
Before his championship match with Montgomery, Stout had earned four pins in his first four matches and they all came in the first round. Three of them took less than a minute, and his quarterfinal match with Moon’s Dalton Dobyns lasted 1:16.
Chip on the shoulder
When South Park’s Joey Fischer was a freshman, he came into his first Allegheny County tournament as the No. 1 seed in the 106-pound bracket.
Fischer got pinned by North Allegheny’s Max Stedeford in 1:40 during his first match of the tournament that year. Ever since, Fischer has been out to prove himself.
“I have always had that in the back of my head,” Fischer said. “It helped me learn that in the future, I have to show why I am number one, and I can’t let those expectations fall.”
For the second straight year, Fischer lived up to those expectations. He earned two technical falls, a pin and two decisions to earn his second county title.
In the championship match, he earned a 5-4 decision over Dylan Coy from North Allegheny. It was a rematch of the 106-pound semifinals from last season, which Fischer won by a 6-3 decision.
“This feels awesome, coming back and wrestling in the finals against a guy that you had a close semifinal with last year,” Fischer said. “Your mentality has to be pretty tough there because that guy, he wants to get you back.”
106: Anthony Ferraro, Pine-Richland m.d. James Walzer, Montour, 14-0; 113: Vince Citrano, Plum p. Tyler Diggins, Moon, 3:47; 120: Joey Fischer, South Park d. Dylan Coy, North Allegheny, 5-4; 126: Ryan Michaels, Elizabeth Forward m.d. Zachery Wright, Hampton, 8-0; 132: Jrake Burford, Highlands p. Kelin Laffey, Pine-Richland, 1:46; 138: Sam Hillegas, North Hills d. Max Stedeford, North Allegheny, 9-2; 145: Jackson Gray, Mt. Lebanon d. Nate Lukez, Pine-Richland, 5-4; 152: Cole Spencer, Pine-Richland d. Conner Redinger, Quaker Valley, 3-0; 160: Brian Finnerty, Thomas Jefferson m.d. Oleg Melnyk, Carlynton, 9-1; 170: Mac Stout, Mt. Lebanon d. Tyler Kocak, Hampton, 3-1; 182: Justin Hart, Hampton m.d. Patrick Cutchember, Quaker Valley, 10-2; 195: Luke Stout, Mt. Lebanon d. Luke Montgomery, Bethel Park, 8-3; 220: Ed Farrell, Fox Chapel d. Andy Mellinger, McKeesport, 3-1; 285: Ben Grafton, North Allegheny d. Nick Murphy, Elizabeth Forward, 3-1
1. Pine Richland, 223; 2. North Allegheny, 222.5; 3. Chartiers Valley, 173; 4. Mt. Lebanon, 172; 5. Elizabeth Forward, 169; 6. Thomas Jefferson, 167; 7. Hampton, 166; 8. North Hills, 157; 9. South Fayette, 142; 10. Fox Chapel, 128.
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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