Franklin Regional's Michael Kemerer defeated Central Catholic's Vincenzo Joseph, 3-2, at the Powerade Christmas Tournament. He's favored to win the Section 1-AAA title at 138 pounds this weekend.
By Ken Wunderley / Tri-State Sports & News Service
Eight wrestlers enter Saturday's Class AAA section tournaments with unblemished records and six of those eight will be featured at the Section 1 tournament at Gateway High School.
"Wrestling fans can get a preview of the WPIAL tournament this weekend at the Section 1 tournament," Greater Latrobe coach Tad Harbert said. "Just take a look at the WPIAL rankings and you'll see a Section 1 wrestler ranked No. 1 in almost every weight class."
Section 1 wrestlers top the WPIAL Class AAA rankings in 11 of the 14 weight classes.
"Fans will be treated to some great wrestling on Saturday," Hempfield Area coach Vince DeAugustine said. "The quality of wrestling in this section is incredible."
WPIAL and PIAA team champion Franklin Regional has three unbeaten wrestlers in its lineup:
* Junior Devin Brown has a 26-0 record at 106 pounds. Brown won a PIAA Class AA title last year while attending Saegertown High School and is ranked No. 1 in the country by Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine.
* Freshman Spencer Lee is 38-0 at 113 pounds. Lee is also a Saegertown transfer and ranked No. 1 in the country. He is also considered the top freshman in the country.
* Senior Tyler Smith is a three-time WPIAL runner-up and one-time PIAA champ who boasts a 27-0 record at 132. Smith, a Bucknell University recruit, is ranked No. 3 in the country.
"It's very impressive for a wrestler to be unbeaten at this time of the year," Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. "It will be even more impressive if they can continue their streak throughout the postseason."
Latrobe, the WPIAL and PIAA team runner-up, has two wrestlers with unblemished records.
* Sophomore Luke Pletcher has a 32-0 record at 120 pounds. Pletcher won WPIAL and PIAA titles last year at 106 and is ranked No. 1 in the country.
* Senior Zack Zavatsky is 31-0 at 182 pounds for the Wildcats. Zavatsky, a Virginia Tech recruit, is a three-time WPIAL finalist and two-time champion. He placed third in the state last year and is ranked No. 5 in the country.
"Luke and Zack have done a fantastic job all season," Harbert said. "It would be great to see both of them win WPIAL and PIAA titles."
Norwin sophomore Drew Phipps is the other unbeaten wrestler in Section 1. Phipps, a PIAA qualifier at 182 last year, is 17-0 at 195. He missed more than half of the season with an ankle injury.
"Drew has been back for a few weeks now and is wrestling very well," Norwin coach Todd Schuchert said. "We're looking forward to the section tournament."
The other five wrestlers from Section 1 who are ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL are Franklin Regional's duo of Michael Kemerer (34-1 at 138) and Josh Shields (31-4 at 152), Hempfield Area's Sam Krivus (32-2 at 126), Latrobe's Dom Scalise (29-1 at 160), and Kiski Area's Shane Kuhn (29-1 at 285).
Krivus, a two-time WPIAL champion and one-time PIAA champ, was ranked No. 4 in the country at 132 prior to his drop to 126.
He's one of four returning PIAA place-winners entered at 126 in the WPIAL. The other three are Canon-McMillan's Dalton Macri (30-2), North Allegheny's Dom Forys (36-3), and Waynesburg Central's A.C. Headlee (29-3). Only three can qualify for the PIAA tournament.
"All four deserve a trip to Hershey, but only three can go," DeAugustine said.
Kemerer is a two-time WPIAL finalist and one-time champ. Shields is a two-time WPIAL runner-up. Kuhn is a two-time WPIAL finalist and one-time champion.
Krivus, Kemerer, Shields, Zavatsky, Kuhn and Franklin Regional's Josh Maruca (30-4 at 145) are two-time section champs, while Smith is a three-time section champ.
Pletcher and Phipps are also returning section champs, along with Kiski Area's Tyler Worthing (25-1 at 220) and Hempfield's Freddy Mantsch (21-6 at 220). Worthing won at 195 last year and competed at that weight most of the season, but moved up to 220 for the postseason tournaments.
Section 3 hopefuls
Plum and Central Catholic are entered in the Section 3 tournament at Fox Chapel.
Plum's top entries are Anthony DiNinno (27-6 at 106), Eric Green (27-6 at 145), Hunter Fenk (28-4 at 182), Nathan Turchick (28-3 at 195) and Stephen Turchick (25-8 at 285).
Central Catholic's top entries are Vincenzo Joseph (29-3 at 138), Tony Palumbo (12-2 at 145), John Cole (17-9 at 152) and Kyle Coniker (20-3 at 170).
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