Norwin’s Phipps, North Hills’ Hillegas claim second Powerade titles
By: Paul Schofield
Saturday, December 29, 2018 | 4:09 PM
When Norwin junior Kurtis Phipps looked at the 120-pound bracket for the 2018 Powerade Wrestling Tournament earlier this week, he knew he had to bring his ‘A’ game.
Phipps did, and so did North Hills junior Sam Hillegas. Both won their second Powerade titles on Saturday at Canon-McMillan, and it wasn’t easy.
The always-tough tournament presented numerous obstacles for the duo.
Phipps rallied in the third period to defeat Stroudsburg senior Cameron Enriquez, 6-5, in the final. As he was being announced as the winner, he held up two fingers to signify his achievement. He won the 106 title last year.
Phipps used a takedown off a counter with 1 minute, 6 seconds left and held on for the win, allowing a penalty point with five seconds left.
Phipps used a takedown to grab the lead in the first period, but Enriquez got a reversal to tie the score at 2-2 later in the period.
Enriquez took a 4-2 lead with another reversal in the second period, but Phipps got an escape in the second and one to start the third to tie the score at 4-4.
“I knew from the beginning, looking at the names in the bracket, it was loaded weight class,” Phipps said. “I just focused on each match and took it from there. Every kid I wrestled had a different style, but I knew what I could do and I struck to my gameplan.”
Winning a second title was something his brother Drew didn’t do.
“I didn’t know much about Cameron, but I watched a few of his matches and saw he had a funky style,” Phipps said. “On top, I got too loose and wasn’t planning on how flexible he was. That’s something I learn for the next time.”
Hillegas, who won at 113 in 2016, used a first-period takedown and an escape in the third period to defeat Kiski Area senior Darren Miller, 3-2, at 132. Hillegas, a two-time PIAA and WPIAL champion, and Miller are practice partners.
“Darren is very good, and we’re familiar with each other. That is why he was tough to turn,” Hillegas said. “We’re good friends, and we travel together. It was a good match and there is a lot of respect between us.”
Hillegas got an escape in the third to take a 3-0 lead, but Miller got a takedown with nine seconds left to trim the lead to 3-2.
“It’s awesome to win a second title,” Hillegas said. “It’s a huge tournament. You have kids coming in from everywhere. It was always good to get a battle.”
Miller said going down early is not a good plan against Hillegas.
“I had to change my attack after he got up because he is so tough on top,” Miller said. “Sam is pretty good, to say the least. He’s an animal on top.”
Seneca Valley sophomore Alejandro Herrera-Rondon used an escape in overtime to defeat Saint Paul’s (Md.) senior Kurt McHenry, 2-1, in a battle of top 113-pounders in the country. Herrera-Rondon was ranked No. 4 by FloWrestling and McHenry No. 2.
Both got escapes during regulations and both failed to get a point in the sudden victory period.
Herrera-Rondon took down in the first 30-second tiebreaker and was able to get an escape with 15 seconds left. When McHenry went down, he couldn’t escape during his 30-second period, which set off a celebration by Herrera-Rondon. He was later awarded the Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
Thomas Jefferson senior Max Shaw used three takedowns, two in the final 10 seconds, to get by Cedar Cliff senior Donovon Ball, 7-2, to win the 195 title.
Parkersburg South (W.Va.) junior Braxton Amos, ranked No. 1 in the country at 220 pounds, overpowered Derry senior Dom DeLuca, 11-2, to win his second consecutive title. It was the second consecutive year he defeated DeLuca. He pinned DeLuca in the 2017 semifinals.
It was the first match Amos didn’t record a first-period pin.
“I need to learn from this loss,” DeLuca said. “He is very aggressive and constantly pounds on your head.
“I have a lot to learn from this. I have to improve on my defense. It was a good tournament and fun to compete here with a packed house.”
DeLuca, who was named Class 3A first-team all-state linebacker, said he felt he frustrated Amos at times.
“Coach Mike (Weinell) said I didn’t allow him to get into his stuff,” DeLuca said. “But I have to improve on a lot of things.”
Seneca Valley sophomore Dylan Chappell lost to Reynolds sophomore Gary Steen, 5-3, at 106. Steen is the Class AA state champion at 106.
McGuffey senior Christian Clutter dropped a 4-2 sudden victory decision to Chestnut Ridge senior Jared McGill at 170. It was McGill’s second title.
McGill got a takedown in the first overtime for the win, but Clutter wasn’t awarded an escape with 30 seconds left to the disappointment for the crowd.
The feature match saw Erie Prep senior and returning state champion Carter Starocci edge Canon-McMillan junior Gerrit Nijenhuis, 5-2, at 182.
After the match, officials had to separate the duo after words were exchanged.
Starocci defeated Nijenhuis in the state semifinals on a controversial call. Starocci was awarded a takedown in overtime when it looked like Nijenhuis had the takedown first.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at email@example.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.