Class AA wrestling: Kittanning's Nolf wins again

HERSHEY, Pa. -- On his way to a third PIAA Class AA title, Kittanning's Jason Nolf almost pinned his way through his final postseason. But his last fall was most unusual.

Nolf (44-0) registered a defensive pin against Williamson's Billy Barnes 1:42 into the first period to win the PIAA Class AA 145-pound championship Saturday at Giant Center.

"I was just trying to get him out of position to take him down, but I guess I pinned him," Nolf said.

Nolf started off strong taking Barnes down in the first 10 seconds of the match. After letting Barnes up, Nolf twice got in deep on a leg only to have Barnes invert his body and lock around crotch to cause a stalemate.

But the third time was the charm.

Nolf again got in deep on a single and when Barnes performed the same move, Nolf rocked backward, which caused both of Barnes' shoulders to touch the mat for the fall.

"I've never really pinned anyone like that," Nolf said.

It was Nolf's 12th pin in 13 postseason matches this year dating to the section tournament, the only non-fall a 16-4 victory against Brookville's Zach Vroman in the PIAA quarterfinals. His three falls led to him being voted the tournament's Most Outstanding wrestler.

The victory raised Nolf's career record to 176-1, the lone loss coming to Ryan Diehl of Trinity (District 3) in the 2012 PIAA 113-pound semifinals, 6-4. Nolf went on to finish third in the state as a sophomore.

"I guess [my career] was pretty good," said Nolf, who will wrestle at Penn State next season. "I lost so it's not like I was undefeated. But the loss may have been a blessing in disguise, as I've told other people."

While Nolf celebrated his third title as a Wildcat, Burrell's Steve Edwards and Avella's Jake Temple both won their first on Saturday.

Edwards took down Southern Columbia's Blake Marks 30 seconds into overtime for a 7-5 victory in the 152-pound championship.

The takedown in overtime was Edwards' first lead, as he trailed 2-0, 4-2 and 5-4. "I just kept staying position and telling myself that I was going to win," Edwards said. "I wasn't taking second. I wanted this medal right here, this gold."

Edwards (46-4) becomes the sixth Burrell wrestler and third in the past four seasons to win a state championship.

Meanwhile, Temple became Avella's first state champion since Ryan Sella in 1988 by beating West Branch's Buzzy Maines, 3-1, in the 220-pound title.

Temple, who beat Maines, 3-2, in the ultimate tiebreaker last week, just kept his feet in bounds to get a first-period takedown that proved to be the difference in the match.

"It's just an experience I've never experienced and it's awesome," Temple said. "I loved it. I wish I could do this every day."

Like Temple and Edwards, South Fayette junior J.J. Walker (43-2) was a first-time PIAA finalist, but he lost to undefeated Kyle Bova of Coudersport, 9-3, in the 160-pound championship match.

Derry's George Phillippi, a state champion at 113 pounds last season, bounced back from his quarterfinal loss to Bethlehem Catholic's Joey Gould to place third at 120 pounds. He also got a little revenge, defeating Gould, 4-3, in the consolation final.

"It was bittersweet," Phillippi said of beating Gould for third place. "I was happy when it happened, but I'm really not satisfied because I think I could have done better."

Phillippi's third-place finish makes it 10 consecutive seasons that Derry has had a top-five PIAA Class AA finisher.

Joining Phillippi as bronze medalists Saturday were South Park 138-pounder Jake Wentzel and Burrell 285-pounder Allan Beattie.

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