West Allegheny’s Ty Watters, Waynesburg’s Rocco Welsh only WPIAL wrestlers to win Powerade titles

Friday, December 30, 2022 | 8:51 PM

Can the Powerade Wrestling Tournament get any tougher?

Tournament director Frank Vulcano Jr. said in the past he would like to have the toughest event in the country. He might have achieved it.

If the 56th annual tournament at Canon-McMillan wasn’t the toughest, it sure was close to the perennially strong tournaments: the Beast of the East in Delaware and Ironman in Ohio.

The WPIAL wrestlers didn’t fare well this season. Only West Allegheny senior Ty Watters and Waynesburg senior Rocco Welsh earned titles. Waynesburg senior Eli Makel placed second.

Only 22 other wrestlers in the WPIAL earned medals by finishing in the top eight in the 13 weight classes. It was the first title for Watters and Welsh. Watters defeated Kissimmee Osceola senior Cooper Haase, 5-2, in the 152-pound final. He used two takedowns in the first period to build a comfortable 4-1 lead.

“This feels awesome to win this,” Watters said. “I love it. You get an opportunity to wrestle so many different wrestlers. The talent in this tournament was so deep. It was a lot of fun even if I would have lost.”

Watters (11-0, 70-8) finished second in 2021. He is a returning PIAA champion at 145 and plans to attend West Virginia.

Welsh (15-0, 131-17) followed Watters’ first-period plan. The Ohio State commit used two takedowns and cruised to a 5-3 win against Parkersburg South (W.Va.) junior Gage Wright.

“It’s great to finally win a title here,” Welsh said. “It’s something that has eluded my grasp and something I wanted since I was little. My opponent did some weird things during the match. He didn’t attack and did a lot of talking. I just had to stay on my attack.”

Late in the match, Wright was able to escape and grab the leg of Welsh, who fought off a takedown attempt at the buzzer.

“I guess he wanted to keep it close and then go,” Welsh said. “I know that I have to continue to work hard.”

Makel was a surprise finalist. He reached the 215 final but dropped an 8-3 decision to Muncy sophomore Austin Johnson.

Waynesburg senior Mac Church, who was attempting to reach the finals for the fourth time, had to settle for third place after a loss in the semifinals.

Others placing third were Thomas Jefferson sophomore Maddox Shaw at 133, West Allegheny junior Shawn Taylor at 160 and Canon-McMillan senior Matt Furman at 172. Placing fourth were Chartiers Valley senior Dylan Evans, who lost to Taylor, 2-1, in overtime; Latrobe senior Corey Boerio at 215; and Trinity senior heavyweight Ty Banco.

Wyoming Seminary was the team champion with 233.5 points thanks to three champions and nine placewinners.

Malvern Prep placed second with 182, and Delbarton School (N.J.) was third with 172. The top seven teams were private schools. Waynesburg, the top public school, placed eighth with 114.5.

Bishop McCort freshman Jax Forrest, who scored a 3-1 upset win over Wyoming Seminary’s Luke Lilledahl, the No. 1 wrestler in the country at 121 pounds, was named Outstanding Wrestler. Wyoming Seminary sophomore Jude Correa earned most pins in the least amount of time.

Westmoreland County had three placewinners. Boerio, Hempfield junior Eli Carr (eighth at 138) and Franklin Regional sophomore Ty Kapusta (eighth at 114).

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.

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