Roth’s return to the mat helps Latrobe wrestling defeat Hempfield

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 | 9:49 PM

Latrobe junior Nate Roth has been waiting for this day since the season began.

It didn’t matter who his opponent was going to be. He just wanted to compete after recovering from a second surgery on his right shoulder.

Beating reigning PIAA Class AAA 132-pound champion and rival Briar Priest of Hempfield made his return that much sweeter.

Roth defeated Priest, 8-5, in a 138-pound match to help No. 2 ranked Latrobe (3-0, 2-0) defeat No. 8 Hempfield (2-1, 2-1), 42-20, in a battle for first place in Section 2-B.

It was the first of numerous possible rematches over the next three months. The first rematch could come Saturday at the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament.

“After my second surgery, I just knew it would be another long process,” Roth said. “I just want to wrestle. I felt I was ready for Powerade, but Coach (Mark) Mears held me back. I’m glad I’m healthy, and it’s great to be back.”

Roth led 1-0 after an escape at the end of the second period. In the third period, things got a little crazy as both wrestlers went at it to the delight of the crowd.

Priest tied the score with an escape, but Roth got a takedown and Priest countered with a reversal. Priest then let Roth free for an escape, and Roth followed with a takedown out of a scramble to make it 6-3. Priest closed the gap to 6-5 with an escape and penalty point before Roth countered Priest’s takedown attempt into his own takedown for the win.

“I felt both coaches did a great job for fans by allowing good kids wrestle each other,” Mears said. “Priest and Roth, (Lucas) Kapusta and (Jack) Pletcher. We could have moved, but that’s not why people are here for and we let them wrestle.

“I felt Nate, for his first match back and beat a state champion. I said all along that once he gets back, I feel our lineup is almost complete. We showed we’re pretty balanced.”

Mears said he felt Roth was able to let the match come to him and didn’t rush things.

“I’m sure we’re going to meet again and again,” Roth said. “There are going to be great battles.”

Latrobe raced out to a 27-0 lead thanks to pins by Wyatt Held (285), Luke Willochell (106), Leo Joseph (113) and Vinny Kilkeary (120).

“It was good to start at 215 where our No. 1-ranked junior got us started,” Mears said. “He’s been waiting for that matchup. I thought Corey did a nice job. It also led to a point of the lineup where we knew we could make some hay. Once you get that spread, the younger guys can relax.”

Hempfield trimmed the lead to 27-9 with a technical fall by Ethan Lebin (126) and a 10-2 win by Eli Carr (132).

After Roth’s win, Charlie Mesich (145) won by technical fall to trim the lead to 30-14.

Latrobe then won the next three bouts. Jack Pletcher defeated Lucas Kapusta, 3-1, in overtime at 152, Wyatt Schmucker got a decision at 160 and Sam Snyder got a pin at 172.

Cody Stepanik (189) received a forfeit win for the Spartans to end the match.

Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said his team wrestled like it practiced.

“We had one of our worst practices (Tuesday) since I came back,” DeAugustine said. “We just didn’t do a good enough job fighting, and we showed no heart in some matches. We gave up bonus points with too many pins, and when we thought we’d get bonus points, we didn’t.

“Latrobe did a very good job. The credit goes to them. We just need to do a better job. We have some internal things we trying to work on. We’re trying to get the kids into a different mindset.”

DeAugustine hopes a different team shows up at Kiski Area for the county tournament Friday.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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