The past three Saturdays, Keystone Oaks senior Nick Zanetta has finished second in his section, district and regional wrestling tournaments.
He will have a chance to get that elusive championship today, but he'll need to beat the same person who has stood in his way each time.
Zanetta will face Kittanning junior Jason Nolf for the fourth consecutive week, this time in the PIAA Class AA 132-pound championship, after both won semifinal matches Friday night at Giant Center in Hershey.
Nolf won the previous three meetings by a combined six points.
"Whoever wants it more is going to get [the championship]," Zanetta said. "I want it more than he does, I'm going to get it."
Zanetta, who also finished second to Derry's Jimmy Gulibon in all four tournaments last season, had to dig deep in his semifinal match against Hanover's Ian Brown.
After neither wrestler scored in regulation or the first overtime, Zanetta started in the bottom position in the first tiebreaker period. With eight seconds left and Brown hanging on Zanetta with legs in, Zanetta threw him off and put him on his back for a five-point move.
"I heard by coaches yell, 'Swim! Swim!' " Zanetta said. "I just went for it, went for the swim, and got him on his back."
Brown only managed an escape in the second tiebreaker period, so Zanetta advanced with the 5-1 win.
Nolf, the 103-pound state champion in 2011, had a far easier time with Michael Comunale, pinning the Pius X sophomore in 3:08 to improve his season record to 44-0.
He has just one loss in his high school career, a 6-4 defeat to Ryan Diehl of Trinity in the PIAA 113-pound semifinals last season. Falling short of the final wasn't an option for Nolf.
"I wasn't not going to be in the finals again," Nolf said.
Nolf-Zanetta won't be the only WPIAL Class AA title rematch tonight.
At 113 pounds, Derry freshman George Phillippi and South Fayette senior Seth Carr will square off again after both needed extra time to win their semifinal matches.
Phillippi, who beat Carr, 1-0, two weeks ago in the district finals, outlasted Boiling Springs' Korbin Myers, 2-1, in a tiebreaker.
Carr notched a takedown 34 seconds into the first overtime to beat Claysburg-Kimmel's Josh Brown.
"You just have to keep going, keep going, keep going ... push yourself to the limit," Carr said. "The better conditioned man usually wins the match."
Two other WPIAL wrestlers, Burrell's Dakota DesLauriers at 182 pounds and Chartiers-Houston's Garrett Vulcano at 195 pounds, will try for their first PIAA titles tonight.
DesLauriers beat Saegertown's Dylan Reynolds, 9-1, to improve to 35-0 and advance to the PIAA final for the second season in a row.
Vulcano, who never placed at state before this season, beat Trinity's Adam Geiger, 5-2.
In Class AAA, WPIAL wrestlers finished 23-5 in the quarterfinals, giving the district almost twice as many semifinalists as its closest competitor, District 3 (12).
For the second season in a row, Canon-McMillan's quartet of Dalton Macri (120 pounds), Connor Schram (126), Solomon Chishko (145) and Cody Wiercioch (170) all advanced to the semifinals, which will start at 9 a.m. today.
The four have helped the Big Macs lead the team standings by four points over Central Dauphin.
Wiercioch, a senior, is looking for his second consecutive PIAA Class AAA title after winning a Class AA state championship as a freshman at Charleroi. Both he and Schram, who won the Class AAA 103-pound state title as a freshman, will be trying to make it to a PIAA final for the fourth time.
Kiski's Matt McCutcheon, the 2012 182-pound Class AAA state champion, kept his hopes for back-to-back titles alive after pinning Council Rock South's PJ Steinmetz in overtime in a 195-pound quarterfinal.
McCutcheon's Kiski teammate, Shane Kuhn (285); and the only wrestler to defeat McCutcheon this season, Hampton's Jake Hart (195); also advanced to the semifinals.
Kuhn is 41-0 this season.
Franklin Regional, in third place in the team standings after Friday, tied the Big Macs with a WPIAL-best four semifinalists -- Michael Kemerer (126), Tyler Smith (132) Josh Maruca (138) and Josh Shields (145).mobilehome - hsother