Trib HSSN wrestling all-stars: Latrobe’s Vinny Kilkeary earns top honors with run to 3rd state title

By:
Sunday, March 26, 2023 | 1:01 PM


Wrestler of the year

Vinny Kilkeary

Latrobe, sr., 127 pounds

2022-23 record: 29-0 Overall record: 131-12

When Vinny Kilkeary won the 106-pound PIAA Class 3A title as a freshman in 2020, he shocked the state.

He defeated Bethlehem Catholic’s Tyler Kasak, 14-10, in the semifinals with a great comeback and then pinned Erie Cathedral Prep’s Jacob Van Dee in overtime in the finals.

While he didn’t receive the Outstanding Wrestler award, he probably should have.

He won his first WPIAL title in 2021 but finished third in the PIAA, dropping a controversial 3-2 decision to Zach Jacaruso in the semifinals.

The past two seasons, the Ohio State commit has been nearly unbeatable.

Kilkeary finished his career with 61 consecutive victories, including 29 this season despite missing a month with an injury, and ended his career with three consecutive WPIAL titles and two more PIAA titles, allowing him to join an elite group of three-time champions in the PIAA and WPIAL.

For that reason, the Latrobe senior was named Trib HSSN wrestler of the year, edging out future Buckeye teammate Rocco Welsh of Waynesburg, Dylan Evans of Chartiers Valley, Grant MacKay of Laurel, Ty Watters of West Allegheny and fellow three-time PIAA champion Rune Lawrence of Frazier.

“I had an unbelievable career,” Kilkeary said. “Winning my freshman year was special because no one expected me to win.

“This year I got to join Luke Pletcher (Latrobe and Ohio State grad) as a three-time WPIAL and PIAA champion. That’s pretty neat.”

The last time Kilkeary was beaten was a setback against to Gavin Caprella of Lima Central Catholic in Ohio at the 2021 Powerade Tournament.

Kilkeary defeated Canon-McMillan junior Andrew Binni in the WPIAL and PIAA finals this eason.

“I could always count on Vinny to come through,” Latrobe coach Mark Mears said. “He’s a hard worker and leader. This is a very deserving honor.”

Kilkeary represented the Pennsylvania squad in the annual Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic on Saturday, defeating four-time Michigan state champ Braeden Davis, a Penn State recruit, 5-2.

All-stars

Andrew Binni

Canon-McMillan, jr., 127 pounds

2022-23 record: 45-6 Career record: 98-26

Only Latrobe senior Vinny Kilkeary stood between Binni and WPIAL and PIAA titles. Binni had an excellent finish to his junior season. He has 27 career pins and has never been pinned in high school. He placed third in the WPIAL as a freshman.

Mac Church

Waynesburg, sr., 145 pounds

2022-23 record: 35-3 Career record: 151-13

The Virginia Tech commit was stunned in the state finals by Collin Gaj of Quakertown, denying him of a third PIAA title. Church finished as a three-time WPIAL champion and a two-time PIAA champion. He had 11 pins his senior season and 47 in his career.

Dylan Evans

Chartiers Valley, sr., 160 pounds

2022-23 record: 37-4 Career record: 139-28

Evans captured his second consecutive PIAA title by defeating West Allegheny junior Shawn Taylor, 3-2. Evans, who will be attending Pitt, was a four-time PIAA placewinner and a WPIAL champion in Class 3A in 2022.

Matt Furman

Canon-McMillan, sr., 172 pounds

2022-23 record: 39-6 Career record: 125-37

It was unfortunate that Furman, a Cornell commit, was in the same weight class as Waynesburg senior Rocco Welsh. He lost to Welsh four times this season, including in the section, WPIAL and PIAA finals. Furman finished with 70 career pins, including 21 this season.

Cooper Hornack

Burrell, jr., 127 pounds

2022-23 record: 43-6 Career record: 116-19

Hornack captured his first PIAA Class 2A title by defeating Bentworth junior Chris Vargo. He also defeated Vargo in the WPIAL final, which was his second title. He is a three-time PIAA placewinner with 54 career pins.

Rune Lawrence

Frazier, jr., 189 pounds

2022-23 record: 45-3 Career record: 112-7

Lawrence captured his third section, WPIAL, Southwest Regional and PIAA titles. Lawrence had 33 pins this season and has 73 in his career. He is undecided about his college plans. He’s looking to become the 14th wrestler to win four PIAA titles.

Grant MacKay

Laurel, jr., 160 pounds

2022-23 record: 47-1 Career record: 166-19

MacKay claimed his second PIAA title by defeating Hunter Hohman of Grove City. His only loss was a 2-1 decision to West Allegheny junior Shawn Taylor. He also claimed his third WPIAL title and was a PIAA finalist three consecutive seasons. He will wrestle at Pitt.

Brenan Morgan

Central Valley, jr., 215 pounds

2022-23 record: 38-5 Career record: 70-12

Morgan was looking to become the school’s first PIAA champion but fell in the PIAA Class 2A finals. He was a section, WPIAL and Southwest Regional champion. He lost 10-7 to Austin Johnson of Muncy in the finals.

Maddox Shaw

Thomas Jefferson, so., 133 pounds

2022-23 record: 44-4 Career record: 85-9

Shaw finished second in the PIAA Class 3A tournament after winning his first WPIAL title. He placed second in the WPIAL in 2022 and third in the PIAA. He has 54 career pins and was an Allegheny County champion.

Shawn Taylor

West Allegheny, jr., 160 pounds

2022-23 record: 37-3 Career record: 92-16

Taylor was a WPIAL champion and a PIAA runner-up this season. He lost in the state finals on a controversial stalling call. Taylor was second in the WPIAL as a sophomore and placed fourth in the state. He’s committed to wrestle at West Virginia.

Chris Vargo

Bentworth, jr., 127 pounds

2022-23 record: 42-3 Career record: 92-9

Vargo had another great season. He finished second in the PIAA Class 2A tournament, losing to Burrell junior Cooper Hornack, and was a three-time Southwest Regional champion. He finished second to Hornack at the WPIAL meet.

Ty Watters

West Allegheny, sr., 152 pounds

2022-23 record: 39-0 Career record: 98-8

Watters, a West Virginia commit, won his second consecutive PIAA title. He was a three-time section winner and a three-time PIAA qualifier. He had 25 pins this season and 58 in his career. He ended his career with 43 consecutive wins.

Rocco Welsh

Waynesburg, sr., 172 pounds

2022-23 record: 43-0 Career record: 159-17

Welsh concluded his high school career by winning his second PIAA title and his second WPIAL title. He was 89-1 the past two seasons. He had 18 pins this season, 57 in his career. He will wrestle for Ohio State. He was a four-time PIAA finalist.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

More High School Sports

2024 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: McKeesport’s Kemon Spell
Mt. Lebanon pitcher David Shields signs with Kansas City Royals, forgoes college baseball
Notable changes to the 2024-25 WPIAL boys soccer alignment
Notable changes to the 2024-25 WPIAL girls tennis alignment
Greensburg Central Catholic’s Samir Crosby set to take control of offense