No. 3 seeds from West Mifflin, North Hills reach Class AAA wrestling semifinals

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West Mifflin's James Harrison and North Hills' Tyler Walker faced similar situations as they entered the Class AAA WPIAL/Southwest Region tournament at Norwin High School.

Both were seeded No. 3 in their weight class, and both had only one blemish on their season record.

Both opened with a pin in the first round Thursday, and both recorded victories in Friday night's quarterfinals.

Harrison (31-1), a 113-pound senior, earned his first trip to the WPIAL semifinals with a 3-1 win against Gateway's A.J. Wilkins.

"I lost in the quarterfinals last year to [Central Catholic's] Vincenzo Joseph," Harrison said. "I've trained very hard since that loss with the goal of taking the next step. Tonight was a big win, but it doesn't get any easier [today]."

Harrison will face North Allegheny's Dom Forys (38-2), the top seed, in the semifinals at noon today.

Walker (33-1), a 126-pound senior, earned his second trip to the semifinals with an 11-5 win against Butler's Korey Caudill. His semifinal opponent is Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer, the only wrestler to defeat Walker this year.

"[Kemerer] is a good defensive wrestler," Walker said. "I made the mistake of shooting too much. One thing I learned from that match is to be calm out there and don't rush. I have to take my time and set things up."

Hempfield's Dom Nania (29-8) pulled the biggest upset of the night at 170 pounds. Nania, the No. 7 seed, pinned Mt. Lebanon's Kellan Stout, the No. 2 seed, in 37 seconds. Nania will face No. 3 seed Noah Wilps of Chartiers Valley in the semifinals.

North Allegheny's Ben Schweiger (23-10), the No. 6 seed at 160, upset No. 3 seed Jonathan Avon of North Hills, 4-2. Schweiger's victory avenged an overtime loss to Avon last week in the Section 3 title match.

"It's the biggest win of my varsity career," Schweiger said. "I had never been past the first round in this tournament. I just have to stay focused for the semifinals."

Schweiger will face Greensburg Salem's Zach Voytek, the No. 2 seed, in the semifinals.

Three Peters Township wrestlers pulled minor upsets. Phil Mary, Tyler Buckiso and Italo Merante were all seeded fifth in their weight class, and all three knocked of a No. 4 seed.

Mary recorded a 9-5 win against Franklin Regional's Kyle Berk at 113 pounds. Buckiso registered a 3-1 win against Belle Vernon's Nate Russo at 126. Merante won by the smallest of margins at 132, as he posted a 1-0 victory against Hopewell's Filippo Crivelli. Buckiso's victory avenged last week's loss to Russo in the Section 2 title match.

"All three pulled an upset in the quarterfinal, but they all have a tough match in the semifinals," Peters Township coach Jason Carpetta said. "All three have to face the top seed."

The only other minor upset came in the heavyweight bracket. Fox Chapel's Tyler Lever, the No. 5 seed, pinned Pine-Richland's Matt Kline, the No. 4 seed. Lever's win avenged his loss to Kline last week in the Section 3 title match.

To nobody's surprise, Canon-McMillan turned in the best quarterfinal performance. The Big Macs had nine of 10 entries advance to the semifinals, including four top seeds: Connor Schram (126), Solomon Chishko (145), Cody Wiercioch (170) and Alex Campbell (220).

"It was a big round," Canon-McMillan coach Chris Mary said. "Last year, we had eight of eight win in the quarterfinals. This year, we get nine of 10. [Today] is a big day and the kids got to respond. They are all battle tested. There's a lot of good kids in this tournament so we're looking for some great matchups."

Schweiger was one of five North Allegheny wrestlers who advanced to the semifinals. Franklin Regional, North Hills, Central Catholic and Kiski Area each had four entries earn semifinal berths.

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