6 Pine-Richland wrestlers punch tickets to WPIALs
By: Kevin Lohman
Saturday, March 2, 2019 | 10:06 AM
The high school wrestling postseason is in full swing, and Pine-Richland is seeing positive results, starting with the WPIAL Section 3-AAA individual championships Feb. 23 at Fox Chapel.
The Rams exited the event boasting a pair of first-place finishers, a pair of second-place showings and another pair of wrestlers who took fourth, giving the program six in the WPIAL Class AAA individual championships.
Both title-winners for Pine- Richland battled to earn the first section titles of their careers. At 285 pounds, Miguel Jackson displayed a vast improvement over his finish from last year, when he took fifth place at 220 pounds. This season, the Rams heavyweight pinned Armstrong’s Joshua Strobel to take top honors.
“He’s right around 225, so he could wrestle 220 but he’s a good football player and he’s explosive and wants to gain weight. So heavyweight has been the move for him,” Pine-Richland coach Caleb Kolb said.
“His finals match, he was wrestling his opponent face-to-face, and then by the second period, Miguel had him in a front head lock and was able to pull him down. So we told him to just keep doing that. He’s strong and fast, and those are his strengths so if he keeps working toward them, he’s tough to bring down.”
At 138 pounds, Nate Lukez won after falling in the section title match last season. Lukez, whom Kolb said has an unparalleled work ethic, dispatched his opponents handily before winning the championship match via injury default.
A pair of underclassmen grabbed second place: freshman Kelin Laffey at 120 pounds and sophomore Cole Spencer at 152 pounds.
Kolb said both performed well and showed a fierce competitiveness that is characteristic of each athlete. Additionally, each has plenty of room for growth.
“Kelin is a natural, and Cole is the same way. Those guys have really good hips, really good leg defense and they do a lot of funky stuff but it works for them. We’re just trying to refine that,” Kolb said.
“They don’t like to take a backseat to anyone, and it’s fun to watch. I know they might not be happy with losing their last matches, but we were able to review the film and make the necessary changes where that’s not going to happen again.”
The final two Pine-Richland wrestlers competing in the WPIAL Class AAA individual championships, which were March 1-2 at Canon-McMillan, were Robert Palmieri and Zach Shaver. Palmieri took fourth at 126 pounds, and Shaver placed fourth at 195 pounds in the section event.
The WPIAL individual championships finished too late for this edition.