Upsets, close calls highlight opening day of PIAA Class AAA wrestling tournament

Thursday, March 7, 2019 | 1:30 AM

HERSHEY — It’s been awhile since fans were treated to such craziness that occurred during the first day of the PIAA Class AAA wrestling championships.

There were upsets and some close calls for some of the top wrestlers in the state Thursday at the Giant Center, which turned into a house of thrills.

And WPIAL wrestlers were in the middle of a lot of it. There were at least 13 upsets.

It all started with Connellsville sophomore Mason Prinkey (34-6) stunning third-ranked Kyle Hauserman of Council Rock North, 6-4, with a takedown in overtime at 106 pounds.

“I really wanted this win,” Prinkey said. “I pushed him the entire match, and I felt my training won out. He was getting tired in the third period.”

Franklin Regional freshman Finn Solomon (38-7) followed by defeating Bethlehem Liberty senior Tai-Reese Flemming, 4-2, with two third-period reversals at 113. Flemming placed third at 106 in 2018.

Norwin junior Kurtis Phipps (35-2), the top seed, didn’t lose, but William Tennent junior T.J. England gave him a scare. Phipps won 4-2 at 120.

Canon-McMillan senior Ken Hayman downed Stroudsburg junior Patrick Noonan, the fourth seed, 7-5, with a takedown at 126.

Even North Hills junior Sam Hillegas (132 pounds) and Thomas Jefferson senior Max Shaw (195) had close calls.

The biggest upsets came at 138 pounds. Penn-Trafford senior Nick Coy, the second seed, was beaten by Spring Ford sophomore Jack McGill, 5-1. While that was going on, Hempfield sophomore Ty Linsenbigler was taking down a returning state champion, Erie McDowell senior Jeffrey Boyd, 3-1.

“It’s the state tournament, anything can happen,” said Shaw, who recently committed to wrestle at North Carolina. “You can’t take anyone lightly and have to be prepared for battles. I expected every match to be tough.

“It doesn’t matter. You have to keep winning, it doesn’t matter what the final score is. If you have dreams of getting on the podium, they can go down the drain pretty quick.”

Ten of the 12 WPIAL champions survived the first round. Only Coy and Seneca Valley sophomore Antonio Amelio (145) suffered losses.

The winners to advance were Seneca Valley sophomores Dylan Chappell (106) and Alejandro Herrera-Rondon (113), Phipps, Franklin Regional senior Colton Camacho (126), Hillegas, Kiski Area senior Cam Connor (152), Kiski Area junior Jack Blumer (160), Canon-McMillan junior Garrett Nijenhuis (170), Mt. Lebanon junior Luke Stout (182), Shaw, Norwin junior Ryan Weinzen (220) and Upper St. Clair senior heavyweight Jake Slinger.

The WPIAL advanced 24 of 48 wrestlers to the quarterfinals.

Kiski Area advanced four, Franklin Regional and Hempfield three, and Canon-McMillan, Seneca Valley and Norwin two each.

Returning state champions Hillegas and Herrera-Rondon (113) also advanced.

The Class AAA tournament resumes at 2:15 p.m. Friday with quarterfinals, with winners advancing to Saturday morning’s semifinal round.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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