Trib HSSN Wrestler of the Year: Seneca Valley’s Herrera-Rondon dominates like no other

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Saturday, March 27, 2021 | 11:43 AM


Early on in Alejandro Herrera-Rondon’s wrestling career at Seneca Valley, he was content to win low-scoring matches.

Many of them ended up 1-0 or 2-1 victories.

Herrera-Rondon frustrated opponents with his dominance in the top position. If opponents didn’t get off the bottom, they didn’t win.

But as the Oklahoma commit got bigger, he knew his offense had to improve.

“I wanted to show people I was the best kid in the country,” Herrera-Rondon said. “I wanted to show I was the best here and do it every time. I wasn’t cutting weight, and I said to myself, ‘Why not take shots?’

“I hate it when people say, ‘Ali keeps it close.’ Sometimes scores are close, but I don’t like when people say that. People say he wins 1-0. I don’t want to do that anymore.”

Herrera-Rondon won his third Class AAA WPIAL and PIAA titles and no one could touch him. He defeated Waynesburg sophomore Rocco Welsh for the fifth time in the 152-pound state final, 3-1.

He finished with a 39-0 record this season and a 175-14 mark for his career. Welsh was the only wrestler to come close.

For his dominating performance, Herrera-Rondon was named the Trib HSSN Wrestler of the Year.

“Winning a third WPIAL and PIAA titles, it’s a dream come true,” Herrera-Rondon said. “When I came here my freshman year, I was hoping to get one or two titles. I didn’t have many expectations my freshman year.

“I was undersized and I wanted to be part of it. To say that I won three, I think that warms my heart. The fact I did it with Dylan (Chappell), one of my best friends. We won the WPIAL title for the third time together and that’s more magical to me.”

Herrera-Rondon was a PIAA champion, not a WPIAL champion in 2018. He lost to Norwin’s Kurtis Phipps in the WPIAL finals at 106 but bounced back to beat Phipps in the state title.

In 2019, he defeated Franklin Regional’s Finn Solomon for the WPIAL and PIAA titles at 113.

Herrera-Rondon bumped up to 132 pounds in 2020 where he and Latrobe’s Gabe Willochell had some great battles.

Herrera-Rondon defeated Willochell in the WPIAL finals, but he dropped a semifinal match in the state tournament to Stroudsburg’s Patrick Noonan. In the third-place match, Willochell won 6-2.

But Herrera-Rondon bounced back big time his senior season.

“I really enjoyed watching Alejandro wrestle his senior season,” Mt. Pleasant assistant coach Tommy Dolde said. “He really improved his wrestling. He was in control in every match.”

Herrera-Rondon has a lot of respect for Welsh.

“Rocco is never out of a match,” Herrera-Rondon said. “He could be down, but he always finds a way to battle back. I admire that.”

He enjoyed his battles with Welsh, though he thought Welsh gave him an unnecessary shot going out of bounds in the PIAA finals. It fired Herrera-Rondon up.

The shot made him woozy.

“I got stiff-armed,” Herrera-Rondon said. “It’s OK. I was looking for a point. But looking at it, I didn’t want to win that way. I got jabbed pretty hard.

“I didn’t thing about it much. I was trying to get my head right. It fired me up. I felt I was the better wrestler.”

Herrera-Rondon said being a three-time state champion puts him in an elite group of wrestlers.

“It’s a very rare group,” he said. “It’s not a four-time, but it won’t be something I look back and regret. I’m happy with what I have and happy with my results.”

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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