Thomas Jefferson captures 1st Allegheny County Wrestling Tournament team title
By: Likitha Janga
Saturday, January 19, 2019 | 6:57 PM
Thomas Jefferson coach Michael Ladick didn’t get hoisted and carried off the mat after the Jaguars claimed their first Allegheny County Wrestling Tournament team title Saturday at Fox Chapel.
Ladick didn’t need to. He already was flying high.
Thomas Jefferson crowned three champions — Mike Zacur, Alex Weber and Max Shaw — to edge North Allegheny, 170.5-168. Mt. Lebanon finished third with 160 points.
Despite having three starters out with the flu, Ladick said the team pulled together.
“This is something we’ve wanted for this program since I took over,” Ladick said. “Everyone one of these guys contributed to the win.
“This was a breakout tournament from (Zacur). Alex (Weber) was able to repeat, and Max (Shaw), I know he defeated Justin (Hart) at WPIALs, but he reversed his loss from a year ago. He got over the hump.”
Zacur won the 126-pound title by defeating Hampton’s Zach Wright, 8-2. Weber took the 152 title by edging South Fayette’s Eli Brinsky, 3-0, and Shaw won the 195 title with a 3-2 win against Hampton’s Justin Hart.
“It’s pretty awesome to repeat from last year,” Weber said. “I was seeded No. 1, but I didn’t take anyone for granted. I didn’t underestimate anyone.”
Weber won the 138-pound title in 2018.
Shaw used a takedown in the third period, making a football form tackle, to edge Hart. The 182-pound winner from 2018 defeated Hart, 6-3.
“This is great, my first county title,” Shaw said. “It’s a great feeling to finally get on top of the podium.”
Mt. Lebanon junior Luke Stout won his third county title when he pinned Keystone Oaks’ Nick Whittington at 182.
Stout, who received a nasty cut on the right side of his neck during his finals match, won the 152 title in 2017 and 160 title in 2018.
Winning their second titles were: Shaler senior Ryan Sullivan (120), North Hills junior Sam Hillegas (132), Quaker Valley senior JohnRocco Kazalas (145) and Upper St. Clair senior heavyweight Jake Slinger.
Sullivan, who won the Ron Garrison Memorial Brotherhood of Wrestling award, pinned Allderdice sophomore Troy Jacobson in the first period.
“It’s pretty cool to come back and win again. It’s a step in the right direction,” Sullivan said. “I got after it in the finals and got the pin.”
Sullivan is a returning WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA 113-pound championship.
Hillegas, a two-time WPIAL and PIAA champion, didn’t waste time in the final, either. He pinned returning 106-pound winner Connor Redinger of Quaker Valley in 53 seconds. Hillegas earned outstanding wrestler honors.
“After Powerade, I knew I couldn’t relax,” Hillegas said. “I knew I had to get back to dominating my opponent. I set some goals to meet for this tournament, no matter who the opponent was.”
Hillegas was the returning 126-pound winner.
Kazalas won one of the toughest weight classes (145), which also featured defending 120-pound champion Tyler Kozak of Hampton. Kazalas defeated Mt. Lebanon junior Jackson Gary, 6-3. Gray knocked off Kozak, 8-6, in the semifinals.
“I feel I could have been a little more offensive in my matches,” Kazalas said. “It was great to win again.”
Slinger won the 220 title in 2018, but decided to wrestle up this season. He improved to 26-0 with an 8-0 win over Mt. Lebanon senior Nathan Hoaglund.
Other winners were: South Park sophomore Joey Fischer (106), Elizabeth Forward junior Ryan Michaels (113), Pine-Richland junior Nate Lukez (138), Mt. Lebanon freshman Mac Stout (160), North Allegheny senior Jon Hoover (170) and Upper St. Clair senior Quinn Murray (220).
Stout joined his brothers Luke and Kellan (2014 and 2015) as county champions.
Hoover was awarded the award for the most pins in the least amount of time (2 minutes, 55 seconds).
As for Ladick, he said the team gets to enjoy the title for about 12 hours because things get hectic starting Wednesday with the team tournament.
“It starts over again on Monday at practice,” Ladick said. “We’re 0-0 again.”
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.
ljanga is a Tribune-Review freelancer. You can contact ljanga at [email protected].