High School Wrestling: Full-circle feel for Smith


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Since he was a kid, Franklin Regional's Tyler Smith has made the annual trip to Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House to take in one of the country's most prestigious high school wrestling events.

Smith made the stop again Sunday. Only this time, it was him taking center stage.

Smith, one of the best wrestlers in Western Pennsylvania the past four years, was among three to win matches for the WPIAL all-stars, who were defeated by the Oklahoma all-stars, 37-10, in the 40th annual Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic.

A PIAA Class AAA champion in 2013 and four-time WPIAL runner-up, Smith (158-21) ended his high school career with a 12-4 major decision against Justin Fletcher (122-44) from Bixby High School in the 132-pound weight class. Smith was named the most outstanding wrestler for the WPIAL team.

"It was definitely fun," said Smith, who will attend Bucknell. "I always came here since I was like 5 years old. I was always watching these guys, knowing how good they were. It's good to know that everything I worked for paid off, and hopefully kids are here and I put on a show for them."

Smith was one of three former PIAA champions on the WPIAL team, but the only one to claim a win. At 220 pounds, Avella's Jake Temple (146-17) was on the wrong end of a 1-0 overtime decision against Andrew Dixon (140-15), a two-time state champion from Edmond North. At 152 pounds, Burrell's Steven Edwards (142-37) was pinned at 2:56 by another two-time state champion, Tuttle's Dakota Head (126-24). Head was selected as the most outstanding wrestler for the Oklahoma team.

Despite the loss, Temple couldn't help but smile after what he said was a fun experience.

"It's just a nice weekend and a nice match to wrestle in," Temple said. "It's pretty cool that we get to wrestle against a whole state. I enjoyed coming here. It was awesome. If I could come back, I would. I'll definitely come back to watch."

Two other WPIAL wrestlers earned wins. Canon-McMillan's Brendan Price (112-24) began the match with an 11-5 decision against Locust Grove's Braden Bennett (72-39) in a 113-pound bout. Two-time WPIAL champion Shane Kuhn (146-20) of Kiski Area concluded the match with a 6-2 decision against Locust Grove's Trey Loveall (92-26) at 285 pounds.

Kuhn, who will play football at Youngstown State, said he enjoyed the spotlight and will never forget wrestling in the event.

"I've never wrestled in front of this many people, other than at states. But never 'all eyes on me,' " he said. "It feels good. To top off the weekend with a win was great."

In addition to Edwards and Temple, three other former WPIAL champions suffered defeats -- Central Catholic's Kyle Coniker (89-22) at 170 pounds, Valley's Terrell Fields (135-42) at 182 and Montour's Cole Macek (137-26) at 195.


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