Kiski Area senior Matt McCutcheon and Franklin Regional junior Tyler Smith are shooting for the "trifecta," while 13 others have hopes of doubling their fun at Saturday's Class AAA Section 1 tournament at Gateway.
The tournament features 15 wrestlers who have won at least one previous section title. The 15 are hoping to claim another title, but at least five will fall short. One champ has been sidelined with an injury, and four weight classes feature two returning champs.
McCutcheon (29-0), a Penn State recruit, is a two-time section champ who also claimed WPIAL and PIAA titles last season at 182. He has since moved up to the 195-pound weight class. Greensburg Salem's Anthony Cable (24-4), last year's 170-pound section champ, is also entered at 195.
"Matt wants to end his career with a second state title," Kiski Area coach Chuck Tursky said. "Winning a third section title would be the first step toward reaching that goal."
Greater Latrobe's Zack Zavatsky (31-1) and Greensburg Salem's Zach Voytek (35-1) are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the WPIAL at 160 pounds. Zavatsky is the defending section champion, while Voytek won at 152. The two met in the finals of the Powerade Christmas Tournament in December and Zavatsky posted a 2-0 victory.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see [Zavatsky and Voytek] meet in the section finals, and then again in the WPIAL finals, and hopefully in the PIAA finals," Latrobe coach Tad Harbert said.
Hempfield's Sam Krivus (29-3) and Kiski Area's Ryan Hardaway (23-4) are entered at 120. Krivus won a Section 2 title last year at 113 then captured the WPIAL crown. Hardaway won the Section 1 title at 113 last year.
"There are so many talented wrestlers in this section," Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said. "Being a returning champion doesn't ensure another title, especially this year."
Franklin Regional's Josh Shields (34-4) and Kiski Area's Cole Landowski (29-2) are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the WPIAL at 145 pounds. Shields won at 132 last year, while Landowski won at 138. The two met in the finals of the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Tournament and Shields posted a 7-2 victory.
"We've faced Landowski three times this year," Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. "Josh Shields beat him and [Panthers teammate] Josh Maruca split with him."
Maruca claimed a section crown for the Panthers last year at 126. He has since moved to 138.
Tyler Smith and Michael Kemerer are also returning champs for Franklin Regional. Smith has moved to 132 after winning back-to-back titles at 112 and 120. Kemerer has moved from 106 to 126.
"Franklin Regional's four studs in the middle will be hard to beat," said DeAugustine, referring to Kemerer, Smith, Maruca and Shields. "The same is true for Kiski's studs."
McCutcheon and Shane Kuhn (31-0), the defending heavyweight champion in the section, are the Kiski "studs" to whom DeAugustine was referring. The two are the only remaining unbeaten wrestlers in WPIAL Class AAA.
DeAugustine has lost one of his top wrestlers, as Ricky Cavallo (24-6) has scratched at 113 pounds. Cavallo won a Section 2 title at 106 last year.
"Ricky broke his ankle in practice [two weeks ago]," DeAugustine said. "He will be in a cast for seven weeks. It's a shame. Ricky had a legitimate chance of winning a WPIAL title."
The only other returning champions are Gateway's A.J. Wilkins (9-1) and Norwin's Heath Coles (27-3). Wilkins claimed a 103-pound section crown in 2011 and placed third at 106 last season. He is now competing at 113, but missed most of the season with an injury.
Coles won a Section 2 title as a freshman, placed second in Section 1 as a sophomore, and third in Section 1 last year as a junior. Coles also won a WPIAL title last year at 145. He has since moved to 152.
"The 152-pound weight class is loaded. It's the deepest of any weight class in the section," Penn-Trafford coach Rich Ginther said. "Four of the top five kids in the WPIAL rankings are from Section 1."
Coles is ranked No. 1. Greensburg Salem's Tyler Reinhart (31-5) is No. 2, Kiski Area's Kyle Skelly (22-4) is No. 3 and Penn-Trafford's Devin Austin (29-6) is No. 5.
Penn-Trafford has wrestlers in its three upper weights out with various injuries -- Jack McGillick (at 195), Ryan Winslow (at 220) and Zach Diable (at 285).hsother