WPIAL wrestlers shine at Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic as Team PA knocks off Team USA

Friday, April 2, 2021 | 9:51 PM

Western Pennsylvania is known for its wrestling, and Friday night at the 47th annual Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic, WPIAL wrestlers showed they can stack up against some of the best in the country.

In the first match of the evening, a team made up of WPIAL all-stars dominated a Maryland all-star team 41-6, winning 10 of 12 matches.

Then, in the main event, Team PA, which included six WPIAL wrestlers, took down Team USA, 27-23, winning for the first time since 2012.

“We didn’t give up faith, and we wanted to win that match so badly,” Seneca Valley’s Alejandro Herrera-Rondon said. “We were talking about it in the room, and we kind of just wanted to build up on each other. We all said if any of us win against the USA, we have to go nuts. We’ve got to go insane. Pennsylvania brings a different energy and a different style, and some people can’t handle it. Team America can’t even handle it.”

While the match between the WPIAL and Maryland was a blowout, the main event came down to the final few matches.

Trailing 23-21 heading into the final two matches, Team PA needed two victories to come out on top. They got them in a big way.

In a tight match with the nation’s top-ranked 152-pounder, Victor Voinovich from Brecksville, Ohio, Herrera-Rondon came away with a 6-4 decision to put Team PA ahead 24-23.

Then, it all came down to a matchup between future Iowa teammates Wyatt Henson of Waynesburg and Team USA’s Caleb Rathjen.

Henson took a 2-1 lead with a second-period takedown and a 3-2 edge with an escape in the first 3 seconds of the third. He held off Rathjen’s comeback bid for a 3-2 decision to give Team PA the victory.

Henson didn’t even realize that he had delivered the victory at first.

“I actually found out like five minutes ago that we won and it was because of me, so I was pretty pumped,” Henson said. “I was so confused.”

Team PA stepped up across the board to unseat Team USA. Notre Dame Green-Pond’s Brett Ungar knocked off Richard Figueroa from Salem, Calif., who was the No. 1-ranked 120-pounder in the country and had only lost twice in his high school career.

Waynesburg’s Luca Augustine delivered a key 5-3 sudden victory decision over Dillon Walker from Mason, Ohio to keep Team PA in the match. Cumberland Valley’s Jake Lucas earned an 11-4 decision and Selinsgrove’s Nate Schon was awarded a forfeit at heavyweight after Kyonte Hamilton had to medically withdraw.

Hamilton wrestled for Maryland in the first match of the evening.

Gettysburg’s Montana DeLawder knocked off the top-ranked girls wrestler in the country, Adrienne Turner of Davis, Calif., to start off the match for Team PA. It was the only pin of the match.

Herrera-Rondon said Team PA was trying to bring a different level of intensity.

“Most of the guys on the PA team are even WPIAL, too, so we bring a different energy, and we’re just really good at wrestling, man,” Herrera-Rondon said. “We’ve been around each other since we were like 8 years old. We go to different clubs, but some of us have been practicing together since we were little kids. So it’s more of like that team chemistry thing.”

The WPIAL all-stars dominated their match. Franklin Regional’s Carter Dibert, Hempfield’s Isaiah Vance and Pine-Richland’s Cole Spencer delivered pins.

Hempfield’s Ty Linsenbigler earned a technical fall victory, and Armstrong’s Logan Harmon, Freedom’s Trent Schultheis, Kiski Area’s Sammy Starr, Norwin’s John Altieri, Blackhawk’s Kenny Duschek and Burrell’s Ian Oswalt won by decision.

“After that first match when Isaiah was in that double body lock, we were all losing our minds,” Starr said. “Then he ends up sticking him, and we all got hyped and it all brought us in closer. It was just awesome to be a part of.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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