WPIAL Class 3A wrestling preview: Waynesburg still the team to beat

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022 | 5:51 PM


Waynesburg is looking for its fourth consecutive WPIAL Class 3A team title after overcoming numerous obstacles last season.

A serious arm injury kept senior Cole Homet from competing in all but three matches, and weight problems kept the Raiders from having their strongest lineup. Still, they found a way to win another title, defeating Connellsville, 35-18, in the finals.

Waynesburg, which was the PIAA team champion in 2021, finished third in the state tournament after falling to Nazareth in the semifinals 38-17. It defeated Williamsport, 31-30, in the third-place match.

With 11 starters returning, there is no reason why Waynesburg shouldn’t make another run, especially in the WPIAL.

The Raiders (20-1) will be attempting to win the ninth title in school history.

Waynesburg returns two PIAA champions — seniors Mac Church (132 pounds) and Rocco Welsh (172) — and junior PIAA qualifier Brody Evans (189).

Also back are junior Ky Szewczyk at 113, junior Joe Simon at 120, senior Nate Jones at 145 and senior Eli Makel at 215.

Kyle Szewczyk returns for his second season as coach.

Teams to watch:

No. 2: Latrobe (15-3), which returns 10 starters, is the team that could best challenge Waynesburg. The Wildcats will be able to fill all 13 weight classes with solid wrestlers and return 2022 PIAA champion Vinny Kilkeary at 120, talented seniors Nathan Roth at 132 and Corey Boerio at 215 and sophomores Luke Willochell at 106 and Leo Joseph at 113. Kilkeary is an Ohio State commit and two-time PIAA champion. Willochell placed second at 106, and Boerio, a Kent State commit, was sixth.

No. 3: Canon-McMillan (13-7) returns four PIAA qualifiers, including senior Matt Furman, who placed fourth at 172 pounds. The other PIAA qualifiers are junior Tanner Mizenko at 106, senior Brandon Dami at 113 and senior Gabriel Stafford at 189. The Big Macs return 10 starters.

No. 4: Connellsville (23-4) reached the finals last season before falling to Waynesburg. The Falcons had a strong showing at Hershey but fell to Waynesburg, 27-25, in the consolation semifinals. Sophomore Lonzy Vielma was a PIAA qualifier at 138. The Falcons return 10 starters.

No. 5: Franklin Regional (10-3) returns three PIAA qualifiers including two placewinners: junior Ty Kapusta, fourth at 106, and junior Juliano Marion, sixth at 189. The Panthers return nine starters, including senior Nate Stone (138), a PIAA qualifier, and senior Gavyn Beck (160).

Other teams to watch: Bethel Park, Butler, Hempfield, Kiski Area, Norwin, North Allegheny, Penn-Trafford, Thomas Jefferson and West Allegheny

What’s new?

• There are new weight classes. They are 107, 114, 121, 127, 133, 139, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215 and 285. The difference was adding a pound to the first six weight classes.

Albert Gallatin, Beaver, Belle Vernon, Greensburg Salem, Highlands and Indiana dropped from Class 3A to 2A. New Castle, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills asked the WPIAL not to give them a dual-meet schedule.

Alignment

Section 1: Armstrong, Central Catholic, Fox Chapel, Kiski Area, Plum and Shaler.

Section 2: Butler, Mars, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley.

Section 3: Franklin Regional, Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson and West Mifflin.

Section 4: Connellsville, Gateway, Hempfield, Latrobe and McKeesport.

Section 5: Chartiers Valley, Moon, South Fayette, Trinity, Waynesburg and West Allegheny.

Section 6: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair.

Important dates

Dec. 2: First competition date

Dec. 25: Two-pound growth allowance

Jan. 30: WPIAL team tournament begins

Feb. 4: WPIAL team tournament finals

Feb. 6: PIAA team tournament preliminary round

Feb. 9-11: PIAA team tournament, Hershey

Feb. 18: WPIAL Class 2A section tournaments: Sections 1-2 at Burgettstown, Sections 3-4 at Keystone Oaks, Sections 5-6 at Greensburg Salem

Feb. 24-25: WPIAL Class 2A individual championships at Chartiers Valley

Feb. 25: WPIAL Class 3A section tournaments: Sections 1-2 at North Allegheny, Sections 3-4 at Norwin, Sections 5-6 at South Fayette

March 3-4: WPIAL Class 3A individual championships at Canon-McMillan

March 3-4: PIAA Class 2A Southwest regional at Altoona

March 9-11: PIAA individual championships at Hershey

Important tournaments

Dec. 2-3: Chartiers-Houston Invitational, Houston; Eastern Area Invitational, Gateway; Hickory Invitational, Hickory; Top Hat Tournament, Williamsport

Dec. 9-10: Walsh Jesuit Ironman Tournament, Ohio

Dec. 16-17: King of the Mountain, Lock Haven; Panther Holiday Classic, Mount Aloysius College, Ebensburg

Dec. 27-28: Southmoreland Holiday Classic, Alverton

Dec. 28-29: Steve DeAugustino Holiday Classic, West Mifflin

Dec. 29-30: Powerade Tournament, Canon-McMillan

Jan. 6-7: Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association Tournament, Greensburg Salem; TRICADA, Canon-McMillan; Ed Driscoll MAC Tournament (Jan. 7), Freedom

Jan. 13-14: Burgettstown Invitational, Burgettstown; Mid-Winter Mayhem, IUP

Jan. 20-21: Allegheny County Championship, Fox Chapel

Jan. 27-28: Thomas Chevrolet Tournament, Bedford

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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