North Hills wrestler is worth his weight in any class
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It's not often that a wrestler drops from one weight class to another between seasons.
Alen Turcinhodzic is an exception.
Turcinhodzic competed in the 220-pound class last season as a junior at North Hills High School.
"I could have dropped to 195 last season, but wanted to see how I could do in the 220-pound weight class," Turcinhodzic said.
"I was weighing in at 205, so it wouldn't have been hard to cut to 197 [with a 2-pound weight allowance]."
Turcinhodzic turned in a fine performance at 220, but fell short of a PIAA berth. He placed second in Section 3-AAA, then fifth in the WPIAL Class AAA tournament with a season record of 36-5.
"Alen was eight seconds away from upsetting the top seed," said North Hills coach Jose Martinez, referring to Turcinhodzic's WPIAL loss to Canon-McMillan's Alex Campbell. "He had a 2-1 lead, but couldn't hold Campbell down in the closing seconds of the third period."
Campbell escaped to tie the bout, 2-2, then scored a takedown in overtime, sending Turcinhodzic to the consolation bracket. He then lost, 3-1, in overtime to Greensburg Salem's Tanner Hahn, who went on to place third.
"It was disappointing to get that far and lose twice in overtime," Turcinhodzic said. "But it's made me even more determined to be ready for my senior season."
Turcinhodzic has decided to drop to the 195-pound weight class for his final year of high school wrestling.
"I would like to continue wrestling in college and the 197-pound weight class is perfect for me, especially since I'm too short to wrestle at heavyweight," said Turcinhodzic, who stands 5 feet 9.
To prepare for his senior season, Turcinhodzic has been wrestling in summer tournaments, competing in freestyle and Greco-Roman. He's qualified for a trip to Fargo, N.D., for the USA Wrestling Junior National Championships,
"I wrestle year-round," Turcinhodzic said. "I've been working out almost five days a week since the high school season ended."
Turcinhodzic qualified for his trip to Fargo at two qualifying tournaments.
"I went to the Northeast Regional and placed second in Greco-Roman and third in freestyle, but stayed in the 220-pound weight class," Turcinhodzic said. "Two weeks later, I dropped to the 195-pound weight class for the [Pennsylvania Amateur Wrestling Federation] state tournament and finished second in Greco and third in freestyle again."
Wrestlers who place among the top three in their class qualify for the national tournament.
"I've never been to Fargo before, but I've talked to others who have wrestled there," Turcinhodzic said. "I'm not looking forward to the 18-hour bus trip, but I am looking forward to the tournament. I'll get a chance to wrestle some of the best wrestlers in the country."
Martinez believes Turcinhodzic is strong in almost every phase of wrestling.
"Alen is almost impossible to take down," Martinez said. "He is also a very good mat wrestler. He can ride opponents very well and is hard to keep down when he's on the bottom."
Turcinhodzic does have one weakness.
"Alen is a defensive wrestler who lacks scramble-ability," Martinez said.
"If he had a good single-leg takedown move, he would be hard to beat. He needs to improve his offense."
Turcinhodzic made his varsity debut as a 171-pound freshman and posted a 12-17 record after placing fourth in Section 3-AAA. He moved up to 189 as a sophomore and placed third in the section, en route to a 27-10 record.
"I want to thank my North Hills coaches and the booster club for their support," Turcinhodzic said. "I would also like to thank Chartiers Valley coach Bill Evans and the Pitt Wrestling Club for their help. But most of all, I want to thank my family."
First Published June 21, 2012 12:00 am