Talented underclassmen looking to make noise at Westmoreland County Wrestling Tournament

Friday, February 5, 2021 | 9:02 PM

Because of the coronavirus, high school athletics are a lot different this year.

Teams have missed weeks because an athlete or coach tested positive or was exposed to the virus. Many events have been postponed or cancelled.

The Westmoreland County Wrestling Tournament was an event the was originally canceled by its sponsor, the Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association. The event was usually held in early January but was canceled because organizers were concerned about the potential spread of the virus to wrestlers, coaches, officials and staff.

But the wrestling coaches in the county still wanted to hold an event, and Kiski Area athletic director John Peterman agreed to play host to it.

The first day of the two-day tournament was Friday and because of capacity limitations, it sort of became two tournaments in one.

Friday’s session was to see which four wrestlers in each weight class would advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals and be entered into the bracket with the tournament’s top four seeds.

Franklin Regional sophomore Nate Stone and Mt. Pleasant freshman Jamison Poklembo, two of the talented underclassmen in the tournament, met in Friday’s 132-pound final to see who would earn the fifth seed and be matched up against Franklin Regional senior Dalton O’Neil on Saturday.

Stone dropped two close wrestle-off matches to O’Neil this past week, and Poklembo was pinned by O’Neil in a dual meet Tuesday.

Poklembo rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the second period to defeat Stone, 8-6.

“I didn’t look at the brackets,” Poklembo said. “I didn’t know I’d face him. That’s good. I’ll be ready for his throws.”

Poklembo was leading O’Neil for much of the match before getting caught in a headlock.

“I learned that I have to get in better shape and be a better finisher,” Poklembo said. “I really don’t know much about Nate because I don’t look at the brackets.”

Poklembo said he expected to make it to Saturday. He had two first-period pins Friday.

Stone, who was a county placewinner in 2020, is just happy he’s getting a chance to compete.

“I’m pleased with the way I’m wrestling,” Stone said. “I’m not disappointed that I had to wrestle on Friday because it prepared me for Saturday. I’m confident in myself.”

Stone would like to face O’Neil again, but he knows his focus had to be on Poklembo.

“Nate and Dalton are great kids and wrestlers,” Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe said. “Both are county placewinners and are great competitors.”

Action resumes 9 a.m. Saturday with the quarterfinals followed by the semifinals at 10. The finals were moved from 5 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine didn’t attend the opening night of the tournament. That’s because he and his fiancée Chelcea Scott were at the hospital for the birth of their second daughter.

The couple gave birth to their first daughter, Gia Nichole, in May of 2019.

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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