Franklin Regional prevails for PIAA wrestling team title

Panthers outduel Latrobe for a third time in 18 days to claim first state title

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The margin of victory was smaller, but the result was the same.

Franklin Regional claimed its first PIAA wrestling title with a 37-23 win against Latrobe in the Class AAA title match Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.

"Our goal at the start of the season was to become the first wrestling team in school history to win WPIAL and PIAA titles," Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. "It's an incredible feeling to win both titles."

It was the third time in 18 days that Franklin Regional (23-1) and Latrobe (15-3) faced off. The Panthers posted a 46-28 victory Jan. 22 in the Section 1 title match. The two met again Feb. 1 in the WPIAL final and the Panthers registered a 42-19 win. The third match was closer, but the Wildcats never seriously threatened the Panthers.

"We also matched up with Latrobe at the Powerade and Westmoreland County tournaments, so both teams were very familiar with each other," Mausser said. "The more times you wrestle an opponent you've beaten, the tougher it gets to keep winning. So it doesn't surprise me that this match was a little closer."

The match started at 285 pounds and Latrobe jumped to a 6-0 lead when Tyler Mears pinned Charlie Mazon at 3:33. Franklin Regional tied the score 17 seconds later when Devin Brown pinned Carson Palmer at 106. Spencer Lee followed with a 19-3 technical fall against Latrobe's Ethan McCoy at 113, giving the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish. Lee (38-0) and Brown (26-0) remained unbeaten.

Franklin Regional took charge of the match with five consecutive victories from 126 to 152, including major decisions by Tyler Smith (28-0 at 132) and Michael Kemerer (138) and a pin by Josh Maruca (145). That gave the Panthers a 31-9 advantage with five matches to go.

Nate Painter clinched the title for Franklin Regional with a 5-3 win against Justin Short at 170 pounds.

Latrobe's Luke Pletcher (32-0, 120) and Zack Zavatsky (30-0, 182) posted victories to remain unbeaten.

"It was great to see three teams from Westmoreland County wrestling in the final session at the PIAA championships," said Mausser, also referring to Latrobe and Burrell. "That's a tribute to the great wrestling we have in Westmoreland County."

Class AA

WPIAL champion Burrell (17-4) placed third, but did it the hard way. The Buccaneers recorded five victories, including three Saturday, in the consolation bracket after losing, 35-33, to Hamburg in the first round. Steven Edwards (152), Derrick Beattie (160) and Allan Beattie (285) recorded wins in all three matches for the Bucs. Edwards picked up bonus points in all three with a pin, technical fall and a major decision. Derrick Beattie recorded two pins.

District 11 champion Bethlehem Catholic (15-0) claimed its fourth consecutive PIAA title with a convincing 41-15 win against District 10 champion Reynolds (24-3). The Golden Hawks dominated the Class AA bracket with four wins by a combined score of 235-18. They had 56 bouts in the four matches and lost only five.

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