Teams to watch in WPIAL Class AAA wrestling this season

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020 | 5:08 PM


No. 1 — Waynesburg

The Raiders finished second in the state to Nazareth in 2020 and return 13 starters. Zander Phaturos, who attended Liberty High School in Peoria, was a 113-pound champ in Arizona.

He is the second wrestler to transfer to Waynesburg from another state. Wyatt Henson, the PIAA and WPIAL 138-pound champion, transferred before the 2019-20 season from Missouri.

Phaturos joins a stacked lineup that includes state placewinners sophomore Max Church (third at 106), sophomore Rocco Welsh (second at 126), junior Cole Homet (fifth at 132), senior Luca Augustine (sixth at 160) and Henson and sophomore Nate Jones (113).

No. 2 — Hempfield

The Spartans return senior state champion Ethan Berginc (112), senior Ty Linsenbigler (fifth at 145) and senior heavyweight Isaiah Vance (second).

Others back are junior Briar Priest (120), sophomore Ethan Lebin (126), sophomore Lucas Kapusta (132), senior Nolan Daerr (138) and a junior high state champion, sophomore Elijah Binakonsky (180).

The biggest return might be Vince DeAugustine, who is back as coach after two seasons at Norwin.

No. 3 – Seneca Valley

The Raiders return four PIAA qualifiers and nine starters. The PIAA qualifiers are senior Dylan Chappell (second at 120), senior Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (fourth at 132), senior Chanz Shearer (138) and senior Antonio Amelio (eighth at 145). Herrera-Rondon won PIAA titles in 2018 and 2019.

No. 4 – Latrobe

The Wildcats have a new coach, Mark Mears, who coached Mt. Pleasant to three WPIAL Class AA titles in the late 2000s. Mears inherits a growing program that returns sophomore PIAA champion Vincent Kilkeary (106) and sophomore Nate Roth (120).

No. 5 – Canon-McMillan

Despite graduating four starters, including two-time PIAA champ Gerrit Nijenhuis, the Big Macs return five wrestlers who had more than 30 victories: junior Jacob Houpt (106), PIAA qualifiers Costa Moore (120), sophomore Gabriel Stafford (145), sophomore Matthew Furman (170) and senior Tyler Rohaley (195).

No. 6 – Connellsville

The Falcons have a new coach, former Greensburg Central Catholic coach and Mt. Pleasant graduate Mike Yancosky. The Falcons return a talented group including PIAA qualifiers senior Mason Prinkey (113), sophomore Jace Ross (120) and junior Jared Keslar (145).

No. 7 – Franklin Regional

The Panthers return 13 lettermen including senior Mario Sarnic, who missed last season while recovering from a football injury. Also back are 2019 PIAA champion Carter Dibert (113) and 2019 PIAA runner-up Finn Solomon (126).

No. 8 – North Allegheny

The Tigers return six starters, including PIAA qualifier junior Dylan Coy (120). While state qualifier Grant MacKay transferred to Laurel, senior Collin McCorkle transferred in from Peoria, Ariz. He was a state runner-up in 2019.

No. 9 – Kiski Area

The Cavaliers are tough to beat by the end of the season. They return seven starters, including PIAA qualifiers senior Sammy Starr (152) and senior Brayden Roscosky (sixth at 195).

No. 10 – Butler

The Golden Tornado is ready for a breakthrough season. They return seven starters, including junior Cooper Baxter (63-18, 33-8).

Others to watch: Norwin, Thomas Jefferson, Penn-Trafford, Hampton, Chartiers Valley

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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