Wrestling notebook: Latrobe finally returns home after successful Colorado trip

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 | 7:13 PM

The Latrobe wrestling team is finally back home after a success weekend in Denver.

The Wildcats got to spend an extra day in the Mile High City because their flight from Denver on Sunday was canceled because of the snowstorm that hit Western Pa.

But the team had to wait a little longer in Denver to leave and they didn’t land in Pittsburgh.

Latrobe coach Mark Mears said that when the team tried to do an early check-in for Monday’s flight, they found out that they weren’t booked.

After more than six hours on the phone with United Airlines and given no reason for what happened, the team was booked on a flight that left at 1:30 a.m. Eastern time Tuesday to Dulles International near Washington D.C., arriving at 4:50 a.m.

There United arranged a charter bus to transport the team to Latrobe. They finally arrived at the school at 9:30 a.m.

The team was able to work out Monday at a club in Denver, and they went to the home of the Pomona High School wrestling coach to watch the Steelers’ game Sunday.

“We received notification on Saturday that our flight was canceled,” Mears said. “Now we’re booked on a flight that leaves Denver at 5:42 p.m. Monday. So we found a gym and got a workout in on Sunday.”

Latrobe had a good weekend, winning two dual matches Friday and finishing second in the Ron Granieri Tournament on Saturday with three champions and two other finalists.

The Wildcats defeated the No. 1 team in Colorado, Pomona, 34-33, and Monarch, 52-17.

Winning titles were Luke Willochell (106), Vinny Kilkeary (120) and Nate Roth (138). Jack Pletcher (152) and Corey Boerio (220) finished second.

Pletcher picked up his 100th career win on the trip.

Watch out for Big Joe

Greensburg Salem senior heavyweight Billy McChesney hadn’t had many close matches this season.

That changed in the semifinals at the 69th annual Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association tournament.

Penn-Trafford junior Joe Enick (10-3) raced out to a 4-0 lead with a first-period takedown and a two-point near fall.

McChesney, ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL by Trib HSSN and the state by PaPowerWrestling, rallied for a 7-5 victory in overtime.

Despite the loss, Enick realized he was no longer wrestling just to keep in shape for football. He now has adjusted his goals, and he would like to earn a trip to Hershey.

It would be the second time this school year that Enick visits Hershey. He was the starting center and defensive tackle on the PIAA Class 5A champion Penn-Trafford football team that defeated Imhotep Charter, 17-14, in overtime last month.

“I don’t feel the feeling of winning a state title in football has set in yet,” Enick said. “It’s kind of unreal. I want to go that far in wrestling, too.

“Now I have to concentrate on getting in better shape. I’d like to make another trip to Hershey. The match showed me what I’m capable of. I have a lot of respect for Billy (McChesney). He gave me a battle and came out on top at the end. It was a heck of a match.”

Enick finished third in the county tournament. He went 4-1 and recorded four pins, including three in the first period.

He said needs to open up more on his feet, and he needs more time in the room.

“I need to get into better shape,” Enick said. “I needed it for gas at the end.”

Enick is following in the footsteps of his dad, Mike, who also played football and was a standout wrestler for the Warriors. Mike Enick was a WCCA and WPIAL heavyweight champion in 1996. He placed sixth in the state during the season.

Joe Enick added: “I do listen to him. He’s kind of laid back; he just wants me to listen to the coaches. I’ll take advice from him here or there. My goal now is to win a state title.”

On the rise

Don’t look now, but Franklin Regional sophomore Juliano Marion is starting to get noticed.

Marion opened eyes by winning the 189-pound weight class at the WCCA tournament.

He defeated Penn-Trafford’s Owen Ott, 3-2, in the finals. He also pinned Norwin’s Aiden Yuscinsky and Derry’s Nathan Barkley and edged Burrell’s Cole Clark, 5-2, in the semifinals.

Marion (18-4) is now ranked No. 3 in the TribHSSN Class 3A rankings behind Mt. Lebanon senior Mac Stout and Thomas Jefferson senior Brendan Finnerty.

“It was definitely a big leap for me,” Marion said. “I don’t think I had the hardest bracket, and I feel I could have wrestled better. It was definitely a first step to hopefully a lot more wins throughout my career. I still have two more years of high school, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

Marion went into the county tournament with a lot of confidence.

“As soon as I saw the bracket come out, I knew I was not going to let myself lose,” Marion said. “I wanted to go out and win it. I was a little disappointed that I got the two seed because I felt I deserved the No. 1 seed. But I proved I was worthy of the No. 1 seed.”

Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe said he had all the faith that Marion would do well. He’s expecting big things from him.

“I believe that winning the county title will help his confidence tremendously,” Lebe said. “He’s very talented, and we try to challenge him a lot. It was huge for his confidence and his continual belief to know that he has the potential to do great things.”

Last year, Marion finished third in Section 1 with a 23-9 record. The expectations are a lot higher this season.

“He just needs to keep working hard,” Lebe said. “He’s just a sophomore, and he needs to continue to work at an elite level and be consistent.

“He’s a very hard worker, and he does the right things, and that’s the kind of things we preach. We just have to make sure he continues to work at an elite level. His skills are very good and he’s talented.”

Regional change

The PIAA announced that the 2022 Class 2A Southwest Region tournament is moving.

For the past few seasons, the tournament was held at IUP’s Kovalchick Center. But IUP informed the PIAA that the facility was not available.

So the PIAA is moving the tournament to Peters Township High School on March 4-5. It is the same weekend as the Class 3A WPIAL Championship at Canon-McMillan.

That also means that Class 2A wrestlers from the WPIAL and Districts 5 and 6 will not have the week off prior to the state tournament like they have since it moved to IUP. The WPIAL wrestlers will be off the previous week. The WPIAL Class 2A tournament is slated for Feb. 19 at Canon-McMillan.

Lawrence wins title

Frazier junior Rune Lawrence captured the 172-pound title at the Escape the Rock tournament at Council Rock South High School.

Lawrence defeated Michael Dellagatta of St. Joseph Regional, N.J., 3-2, in the finals.

Norwin senior Chase Kranitz finished third at 152 pounds. He bounced back after a 4-1 loss to Northampton’s Dagen Condomitti in the semifinals.

He finished 5-1 overall and defeated J.W. Robinson’s Sammy Gerard in the third-place match.

Kranitz joined the 100-win mark over the weekend.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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