Waynesburg wrestling team eyes 3rd consecutive WPIAL Class 3A title

Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | 7:01 PM

Waynesburg rolled to the PIAA and WPIAL Class 3A titles in the 2020-21 season, and with nine starters returning, there is no reason why it shouldn’t make another run, especially in the WPIAL.

The Raiders (16-0) will be attemping to win their third consecutive Class 3A title and eighth in school history.

It won’t be easy. There is a chance senior Cole Homet, who was a WPIAL champion and PIAA runner-up, won’t be able to compete after sustaining a serious arm injury in a vehicle accident over the summer.

Homet has told people he’s working hard to get back into action. If he can’t go, that leaves a hole in the lineup.

Waynesburg has four other PIAA qualifiers: 120-pound champion junior Mac Church, 132 fifth-place finisher senior Colton Stoneking, two-time runner-up junior Rocco Welsh at 152 and sophomore 113-pounder Joe Simon.

Also back are sophomore Ky Szewczyk at 106, senior Zander Phaturos at 126, junior Nate Jones at 138, junior Eli Makel at 189 and senior Noah Tustin at 215.

Kyle Szewczyk replaced Joe Throckmorton as coach. Throckmorton resigned after he was arrested in September.

Teams to watch:

No. 2: Latrobe is a team that could dethrone the Raiders. The Wildcats will fill all 13 weight classes and return 2020 PIAA champion Vinny Kilkeary at 120, Pitt commit Jack Pletcher at 152 and talented juniors Nathan Roth at 132 and Corey Boerio at 215.

Wildcats coach Mark Mears said he expects freshmen Luke Willochell (106) and Leo Joseph (113) to be key contributors.

“We’re going to be pretty solid,” Mears said. “I’m eager to see how we compete.”

No. 3: Connellsville (7-4) reached the team semifinals in 2021 before falling to Seneca Valley.

The Falcons return two PIAA placewinners in senior Chad Ozias, eighth at 120, and senior Jared Keslar, fourth at 152. Keslar is a Pitt commit.

Also back for new coach Bill Swink, a Connellsville grad and former Virginia Hall of Fame coach at Colonel Forge, are junior Jacob Layton (106), junior Gabe Ruggieri (132), junior Jace Ross (132), senior Zach Bigam (138), senior Hunter Claycomb (145) and junior Ethan Ansell (160).

Lonzy Vielma (145) is a freshman who could make noise this season.

No. 4: Franklin Regional (17-3) opted out of the WPIAL team tournament in 2021 to concentrate on the individual tournaments. The Panthers return 10 starters, including PIAA 138-pound champion senior Finn Solomon. Others who could make a jump this season are sophomore Tyler Kapusta (106), sophomore Dom Colaizzi (113), junior Nate Stone (132), junior Gavyn Beck (160), sophomore Juliano Marion (189) and senior Christo Marion (215).

No. 5: Seneca Valley (20-3) graduated six starters from the WPIAL second-place team, but Raiders return seven starters, including WPIAL champion and PIAA third-place finisher Tyler Chappell (106). Keep an eye on senior Liam Volk-Klos (189), sophomore Connor Smith (113) and junior T.J. Border (215).

Others to watch:

Butler, Canon-McMillan, Hempfield, Kiski Area, Norwin, North Allegheny and Penn-Trafford

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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