Seven returning champs looking for more Allegheny County mat gold

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 | 6:58 PM

On Friday morning, teams from around Allegheny County will travel to Fox Chapel for the annual Allegheny County wrestling tournament.

Seven defending champions return, including South Park’s Joey Fischer, Elizabeth Forward’s Ryan Michaels, Thomas Jefferson’s Mike Zacur, North Hills’ Sam Hillegas and Pine Richland’s Nathan Lukez, as well as Mt. Lebanon’s Mac and Luke Stout. Luke Stout will be going for his fourth straight county title.

Several runner-ups are also returning for another chance to claim their Allegheny County crown, and one of them is Plum’s Vince Citrano.

As a freshman last season, Citrano went 30-6 at 106 pounds and most of his losses came against top-tier wrestlers. He lost to Franklin Regional’s Carter Dibert twice, Canon-McMillan’s Costa Moore and Connellsville’s Mason Prinkey. His second loss of last year came to Fischer in the championship of the Allegheny County tournament.

“I’ve been thinking about that since last year and how I’ve wanted to win a county title,” Citrano said. “Joey is a really good kid, and he’s a really good wrestler. That was definitely one of my tougher losses.”

Through the beginning of his sophomore season, Citrano is 11-1. He’s earned six technical falls, two pins and three decisions. He’s captured first-place finishes at the Eastern Area Invitational, the Armstrong Winter Classic and the Steve DeAugustino Holiday Classic.

Citrano was awarded the No. 1 seed when the brackets were released Monday, but even with the top seed, the Plum sophomore knows he can’t get too confident heading into the tournament.

“Every guy out there is a competitor, and they are working just as hard as me,” Citrano said. “So that’s kind of my mindset going in there. Seeds don’t matter. I have to give 110% effort in every match and not let off the gas.”

While wrestlers like Citrano will be gunning for the top spot on the podium, wrestlers like Hillegas will be looking to protect their territory.

Throughout his high school career, Hillegas has only lost three times. His third loss came earlier this season against Wyoming Seminary’s Beau Bartlett at the Powerade Tournament. Heading into Friday, Hillegas is looking to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

“The way I look at it is, it’s a wrestling match. It’s nothing I’ve done before,” Hillegas said. “I just need to go out there, stick to my gameplan and let it fly. Whatever happens at the end of the day happens.”

Last year, Hillegas won all five of his matches via pin and four of them didn’t even get out of the first period. His semifinal matchup against West Mifflin’s Anthony Salopek was the only one that did, and Hillegas pinned Salopek in 3 minutes, 49 seconds.

Heading into his senior year county tournament, Hillegas is hoping to top that performance.

“I mean, it’s really hard to top that, but I gotta find a way somehow,” Hillegas said.

A weight class to watch this weekend could be 152 pounds. Quaker Valley’s Conner Redinger comes into the tournament as the No. 1 seed, followed by Pine-Richland’s Cole Spencer at No. 2 and North Allegheny’s Grant MacKay as the No. 3 seed.

Matches will start at 10 a.m. Friday at Fox Chapel.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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