East Xtra: Latrobe's Pletcher works to make dream a reality

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It's two down and two to go for Greater Latrobe wrestler Luke Pletcher.

Pletcher has reached the halfway point in his trek to achieving the ultimate goal in Pennsylvania wrestling: winning four PIAA titles.

"My ultimate goal is to win four PIAA titles," Pletcher said. "Reaching that goal is within my grasp, but I still have a long way to go. I just have to keep working hard."

Only 12 wrestlers have reached the pinnacle of PIAA wrestling by winning four PIAA titles. And three joined the elite club in the past three years.

Derry Area's James Gulibon became a four-time champ in 2012 before moving on to Penn State University. Kennard Dale's Chance Marsteller and Solanco's Thomas Haines added their names to the elite list in March.

"It would be great to see Luke join the PIAA's most elite club," Latrobe coach Tad Harbert said. "But he still has a long way to go. He can't afford to look too far ahead.

"He's got to get that third title before he can start thinking about the fourth."

Pletcher broke into Latrobe's lineup as a 106-pound freshman and won Class AAA Section 1, WPIAL and PIAA titles at 106 pounds. He finished with an impressive 41-2 record.

Both of his losses that season came at the King of the Mountain Tournament, held annually at Central Mountain High School.

The first loss was to Parkland's Ethan Lizak, a PIAA champion, in the semifinals. He then lost in overtime to Boiling Springs' Korbin Myers in the consolation semifinals.

"The loss to Korbin Myers really bothered me at the time," Pletcher said. "My head wasn't in the right place for that match."

Pletcher didn't have to worry about any losses last season, as he posted a 43-0 record. He moved up to 120 pounds and claimed three more postseason titles: Section 1, WPIAL and PIAA.

"Winning the second title was much harder than the first," Pletcher said. "And it's not going to get any easier."

Pletcher plans to start his junior year at 132 pounds, then drop to 126 for the postseason tournaments.

"I've been working out almost every day since the season ended," said Pletcher, who has also participated in two offseason tournaments.

"I went to Flonationals [a national tournament held in April at IUP] and placed second. I lost to New York's Nick Piccininni in the finals."

Pletcher also wrestled for Team Griffin at the National High School Coaches Association National Duals, held Memorial Day weekend at Virginia Beach.

"Our team placed second in the tournament," Pletcher said. "I wrestled 10 matches and won all but the last one. I had to default in that match due to an injury."

Pletcher has since healed, but has no plans to compete the rest of the summer.

"I've been working out with the Young Guns Wrestling Club and the Pitt Wrestling Club," Pletcher said. "I also plan on working out at Rob Waller's [All-American] club."

Pletcher and some of his Latrobe teammates also work out in "the barn".

"We have a barn on our property in which we used to have some animals," Pletcher said. "We've since turned the barn into a wrestling room."

Latrobe lost four starters to graduation, including fellow PIAA champion Zack Zavatsky.

"I'm going to miss our seniors," Pletcher said. "I'm going to have to step up and fill some of that leadership void now that I'm one of the old guys."

Latrobe advanced to the WPIAL title match last season before losing to eventual WPIAL and PIAA champion Franklin Regional.

"Our team goal is to get back to the state tournament," Pletcher said.

Pletcher has two years to consider his future, but is already making unofficial college visits.

"It's a little early in the recruiting process, but I've already made unofficial visits to Pitt, Penn State and Virginia Tech," Pletcher said.

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