Waynesburg adds Ariz. wrestling champion as WPIAL sorts out-of-state transfers

Thursday, September 10, 2020 | 7:29 PM

For the second year in a row, Waynesburg’s wrestling team has added a state champion from another part of the country.

The team’s newest transfer is junior Zander Phaturos, who won the 113-pound state title in Arizona last winter. The WPIAL processed his transfer paperwork Wednesday and granted him full eligibility. Phaturos also finished as Arizona’s runner-up at 103 pounds as a freshman.

Combined, his two-year record is 81-11.

Now in the WPIAL, Phaturos can attempt to win a title his father won three decades ago. Lance Phaturos was a WPIAL wrestling champion for Riverview in 1984.

Waynesburg athletic director Bob Stephenson said a desire to be closer to family brought them back to Western Pennsylvania. Lance Phaturos recently retired as a high school principal in Holbrook, Ariz. Stephenson said covid-19 also was a concern.

Zander Phaturos attended Trinity High School in Peoria, Ariz.

Last fall, Waynesburg also added an out-of-state champion when Wyatt Henson transferred home after winning a 2019 Missouri state title. Henson won the PIAA title at 138 pounds as a junior this past season.

Waynesburg is coached by Joe Throckmorton, who won two WPIAL titles and a state title in 1979-80 during his career wrestling for the Raiders. He later captained Pitt’s wrestling team.

Phaturos’ regular-season eligibility wasn’t in question because he moved into the district with his family and was presumptively eligible under PIAA rules, WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman. The PIAA board on Wednesday needed to decide whether Phaturos was eligible for the postseason.

Phaturos was granted a postseason waiver.

The WPIAL decided the eligibility of 50 students Wednesday, and Phaturos wasn’t the only out-of-state transfer on the list. There were incoming athletes from California, Nebraska, North Carolina and Virginia. That was more out-of-state arrivals than usual, Scheuneman said, but understood that the coronavirus pandemic was likely causing some families to make big moves.

Among the in-state transfers, the WPIAL granted postseason eligibility to junior Matt McDonough, a basketball player who transferred to North Allegheny after Vincentian Academy closed.

The WPIAL denied all eligibility in basketball to seven student-athletes who transferred to Geibel Catholic, Scheuneman said. The transfers came from Uniontown (Jeffery Johnson, Anwar Nelson, A’Moni Tunstell and O’Mari Tunstell) and Connellsville (Trevell Clayton and Kaiden Grady), according to a WPIAL list.

The athletes are ineligible for one year.

“There’s a likelihood of athletic intent,” Scheuneman said. “Geibel will have the opportunity to appeal that decision.”

North Allegheny also added two juniors from out of state who play football. Dwayne Taylor moved from Bakersfield, Calif., and Bryan “Bo” Crutcher transferred in this fall from Charlotte, N.C. Taylor, a 6-foot-4 wide receiver, is fully eligible. Crutcher, a 6-2 lineman, was ruled eligible for the regular season Wednesday, but his postseason status remains undecided, Scheuneman said.

Taylor’s mother works with a charity founded by former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, a Bakersfield native, said NA coach Art Walker, and Crutcher has family from Western Pennsylvania.

Crutcher was an all-conference player last season for Myers Park High School, one of North Carolina’s top teams. After the North Carolina High School Athletic Association postponed football to the spring, a handful of players moved elsewhere, according to the Charlotte Observer, including the sons of former NFL quarterback Josh McCown.

Scheuneman said the WPIAL needed additional information before deciding Crutcher’s postseason eligibility.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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