Injuries healed, three earn 1st-round wins at WPIAL Class AAA wrestling championships

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Solomon Chishko, Luke Fleck and A.J. Wilkins spent part of the wrestling season wondering if they would be able to compete in the postseason tournaments.

Fortunately, all three returned from injuries that sidelined them most of the season. And all three posted a victory in the opening round of the Class AAA WPIAL/Southwest regional tournament, which began Thursday night at Norwin High School.

Chishko (4-0), a two-time WPIAL champion from Canon-McMillan, recorded a 20-5 technical fall in his first round match at 145 pounds against Hempfield's Jesse Giallonardo.

"It was really hard to sit out, especially during the team tournaments," said Chishko, referring to the WPIAL and PIAA team tournaments. "I really wanted to wrestle, but I knew it was better if I sit out and heal."

Chishko fractured the growth plate on his elbow in the final of the Super 32 Tournament, a preseason national tournament in October.

"They put a metal plate and five screws in," Chishko said. "It was a long recovery, a lot of therapy. It doesn't quite feel normal, but it's always going to feel that way, since I have all that medal there."

Fleck, a four-year starter at Franklin Regional, posted a 3-0 victory in the opening round at 285 against West Allegheny's Kasey Teyssier.

"At the end of football season I suffered a torn meniscus," Fleck said. "About three weeks after the football season ended, I had the meniscus removed arthroscopically. Then a week later, I caught a staff infection. When that happened, I was really concerned about whether I would be able to wrestle at all this season."

Fleck (18-2) returned to the Panthers lineup five weeks ago.

Wilkins (12-2), a three-year starter at Gateway, posted a 7-2 victory in his 113-pound bout against Belle Vernon's Mitch Hartman.

"I broke a bone in my foot during a practice just before Christmas," said Wilkins, who returned to the lineup two weeks before the Section 1 Tournament.

"I'm so glad to be back out there on the mat. It hurts a little bit while I'm wrestling, but the adrenaline rush gets you through it."



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