Seniors rally Franklin Regional wrestling past Plum in key section match

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022 | 10:13 PM


Early on in Wednesday’s WPIAL Class 3A Section 1-B first-place wrestling showdown, things didn’t look good for Franklin Regional.

The Panthers dropped their first four matches to visiting Plum and on senior night and were looking at a big hole.

But seniors Ben Pekarcik, Finn Solomon and Christo Marion made sure their special night wouldn’t be spoiled.

Ben Pekarcik picked up a major decision win at 132 pounds to stop the Mustangs’ (2-2, 2-2) run, and pins by Finn Solomon (138) and Christo Marion (285) rallied the Panthers (3-0 3-0) to a 41-24 victory. That clinched a berth in the Section 1 team tournament in two weeks and set up another first-place showdown Jan. 19 at Penn-Trafford.

After trailing 18-0, the Panthers ran off six consecutive wins, which also included pins from Gavyn Beck (160), Travis Hall (172) and Juliano Marion (189). Nate Stone (145) had a major-decision win.

“We actually felt we were ahead of schedule when Plum didn’t get bonus points in the first two matches,” Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe said. “I’m sure they were expecting more, but Nico (Sarnic) and Darren (Deriggi) did a better job than they know.

“It was gritty overall performance from the entire team. We have great senior leadership on the team, and that was the talk we had. The seniors are so important to the team, and they proved it here.”

Hall’s pin was pivotal for the Panthers. He went from almost getting pinned to getting a pin.

“We talked about the match all week, and coach talked about grit,” Pekarcik said. “Going out there and competing as hard as you can. He wanted us to continue to work for the bonus points. Don’t be content with getting three points. I wanted to get a pin, but when I realized that wouldn’t happen, I made sure I got bonus points.”

Carson Yocca (113) and Sam Snyder (120) gave Plum a 6-0 lead and then pins by Nino Walker (126) and Vincent Citrano (132) pushed the lead to 18-0.

“We started out fine, but they did a good job slowing our lightweights down,” Plum coach Mike Supak said. “Their middleweights are more experienced than we are, and we need to work on that. We knew going in that would be their toughest part.”

Franklin Regional sophomore Ty Kapusta ended the night by defeating Plum freshman Rylen Campbell, 5-1, in a battle of ranked wrestlers at 106. Kapusta is ranked No. 3, and Campbell is No. 5.

While the Penn-Trafford match will decide which team wins Section 1-B, Lebe’s focus is on the match Tuesday against Gateway (2-1).

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

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