North Xtra: Six pursue their third section wrestling title
North Hills' Tyler Walker, with Shaler's Jordan McGonigle draped over him during the finals of the 126-pound weight class at the Allegheny County tournament, has won two section titles.
Share with others:
A half-dozen district high school wrestlers have the number "three" in mind as they enter Saturday's Section 3-AAA tournament at Fox Chapel Area High School -- all six are two-time section champions who hope to hit the "trifecta."
Dom Forys (33-2), a junior at North Allegheny, claimed titles at 103 and 106 the past two years and enters this year's tournament at 113. Forys is ranked No. 1 for his weight class in WPIAL Class AAA.
"Dom has been wrestling better than anytime in his career," North Allegheny coach Jamie Kyriazis said. "He has to be considered the favorite [in the WPIAL] at 113, especially with Hempfield's Ricky Cavallo out of the picture [with a broken ankle]."
Blake Caudill (29-4), a senior at Butler Area, has titles at 112 and 113 to his credit. He is now competing at 120 and is ranked No. 4.
"We're hoping for another trip to Hershey with Blake," said Butler coach Scott Stoner, referring to Caudill's appearance in last year's PIAA tournament. "But it will not be easy. Winning another section title is the first step."
Tyler Walker (28-1), a senior at North Hills, captured titles at 119 and 120 and is now entered at 126, and ranked No. 3.
"Tyler got his first taste of the state tournament last year," North Hills coach Jose Martinez said. "This year, he's got to take a step further and place."
Kevin Synan (30-5), a senior at Hampton, has moved to 145 after claiming section crowns at 130 and 138. He is ranked No. 4.
"I'm expecting a rematch of the Allegheny County finals [in the section final] at 145," Hampton coach Joe Bursick said. "Kevin has wrestled Central Catholic's Chris Nuss (24-10) four time this season, and fortunately beat him all four times."
Alex DeCiantis (25-2), a senior at North Allegheny, has titles at 160 and 170 and is now at 182, where he is ranked No. 1.
"Alex has won three WPIAL titles with the football team," Kyriazis said. "We're hoping to see him win another WPIAL title, this time on the mat."
Jake Hart (33-1), a senior at Hampton, captured titles at 189 and 195. He returns at 195, where he is ranked No. 2.
"Jake came within one win of WPIAL and PIAA titles last year," Bursick said. "We're hoping to see him win both titles this season, but we can't afford to look past the section tournament."
Two other Section 3 entries have one section title each to their credit -- Zach DeLuca and Zach Kocak.
DeLuca (31-7), a junior at Central Catholic, claimed the 220-pound title in Section 1 last season. The Vikings have since moved to Section 3 and DeLuca is still competing at 220. He is ranked No. 2 in the WPIAL.
"Zach considered the option of moving up [to the 285-pound weight class], but we felt his style of wrestling is better suited for the 220-pound weight class," Central Catholic coach Sanshiro Abe said. "Hampton's Noah Shulman did the same thing. I expect to see [DeLuca and Shulman] in the section finals."
Shulman (23-4) placed second in the section last season at 285, but opted to compete at 220 this time.
Kocak (28-6), a senior at Hampton, won a section crown as a 112-pound freshman, but hasn't been back to the finals since. He's now competing at 152 and is ranked No. 7.
Martinez believes 120 could be the strongest of the 14 weight classes in Section 3, with 106 a close second.
"Even with Forys dropping to 113, 120 is still a strong weight class," Martinez said. "There's also a lot of talent at 106."
Caudill is joined in the 120-pound weight class by Shaler's Logan Heinl (25-3), Seneca Valley's Nick Zoria (24-9), Plum's Tommy Zummo (24-10) and Central Catholic's Vincenzo Joseph (16-7). Joseph was a WPIAL runner-up at 103 last season.
"Vincenzo considered dropping to 113, but he had to cut too much weight," Abe said. "He's comfortable at 120."
The 106-pound weight class features five entries with 20 or more wins -- North Hills' Gage Curry (28-2), Shaler's Mike Heinl (22-5), Fox Chapel's Jared Rice (25-6), North Allegheny's Scott Stossel (26-9) and Seneca Valley's Alex Lynch (23-10).
"Mike and Logan are cousins," said Shaler coach Drew D'Agostino, when asked if the Heinl's, both freshmen, are brothers. "Mike's older brother is Austin [a 132-pound junior for the Titans]. They all come from a wrestling family. Their fathers wrestled at Shaler. Austin qualified for the WPIAL tournament last year [at 120 pounds]. I'm expecting all three to qualify this year."
D'Agostino is glad that Austin Heinl is at 132, instead of 138.
"The toughest weight class in the section is at 138," D'Agostino said.
The 138-pound weight class features North Allegheny's Jesse Rodgers (30-4), ranked No. 2 in the WPIAL, and Central Catholic's Justin Alexander (33-8), who is No. 3. Also entered at 138 are Plum's Eric Green (23-9), Butler's Xavier Bennett (21-9) and Hampton's Chris Olszewski (20-9).
First Published February 21, 2013 12:00 am