Plum wrestlers excel during summer tournaments

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Sunday, August 8, 2021 | 10:01 AM


Plum’s varsity wrestling team was young in the 2020-21 season as all but one member was an underclassman.

A number of standouts from the team were active in the spring and summer and made waves at tournaments locally and throughout the country.

Nino Walker capped his summer of competition at the U.S. Marine Corps/USA Wrstling 16U (Cadet) National Championships at the Fargo Dome in Fargo, N.D.

In his first trip to Fargo, Walker wrestled in both the 126-pound freestyle and Greco Roman tournaments and finished a combined 3-4, including a 2-2 mark in Greco Roman as he made it to the consolation round of 16.

“I tried to go into it like it was a normal tournament, but once I got there, the surroundings and everything was just insane,” Walker said.

“The arena is so big and there were a bunch of people watching the matches. Wrestling in that arena with all of those people there really gives me a lot of motivation to make it to (the PIAA championships in Hershey).”

Walker qualified for nationals with Team PA by placing fourth in freestyle and third in Greco Roman at June’s PA State Championships.

Walker finished his freshman season at Plum 22-4 overall with bouts at 106, 113 and 120. He captured a 106-pound section championship, finished as the WPIAL Class AAA runner-up and capped his season at the PIAA Western Super Regional.

Walker was one of three Plum wrestlers who competed at the National High School Coaches Association Nationals in April in Virginia Beach. He won three of his five matches.

In May, Walker represented Young Guns Red at the NSCHA National Duals and went 5-1.

In June, Waker competed with Team Pennsylvania at the USA Wrestling 16U National Duals in Indianapolis. As the team earned a top-10 finish, Walker won all six of his matches.

Vinny Citrano, one of the elder statesmen of the Plum wrestling team with three years of winning experience, returned to Fargo last month for the Junior Freestyle nationals.

Representing Texas, Citrano went 3-2 overall with a two decision victories and a major decision triumph.

“It was another great experience,” Citrano said. “I really started to open up and saw a better version of myself than I’ve seen in a while.”

Citrano was on a team for a dual tournament after the high school season, and a coach from Texas took notice of Citrano and asked if he would be interested in traveling to (Dallas) to train.

“I had two training partners who were both No. 1 ranked in the nation, and I got some really good coaching, too,” said Citrano, who began training in the Lone Star State in April while finishing his Plum academic year through online learning.

“You just can’t beat that. I just kind of took it and ran with it. It was a really good decision for me.”

He qualified for Fargo nationals in Texas which placed him on the Texas state team.

Because of injury, Citrano said, he missed qualifying opportunities in Pennsylvania. He petitioned qualifying state officials in Texas for the opportunity to qualify there, and he was successful.

He heads into his final varsity season with a three-year record of 73-17.

Citrano and Walker weren’t the only Plum wrestlers to see tournament action after the high school season ended.

Jack Tongel, a rising sophomore, went 1-2 at NHSCA Nationals.

Sam Snyder, also a rising sophomore, won four of five matches at 106 representing Young Guns Red at the NSCHA National Duals. Snyder went 12-4 at 106 and 113 in his Plum varsity debut.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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