Kiski Area sets school record with 4 WPIAL wrestling champs
Jack Blumer called his shot. So did his coach. And it paved the way for a record-breaking day for Kiski Area at the WPIAL Class AAA championships.
Four Kiski Area wrestlers — a program record — won titles at the WPIAL tournament Saturday at Canon-McMillan as the Cavaliers added another accomplishment to their WPIAL team title and PIAA runner-up finish from the team portion of the season.
Top-seeded seniors Noah Levett (138 pounds) and Isaac Reid (285) won their first championships after finishing as runners-up last season. But so did underdogs Blumer and Cam Connor, who knocked off the top-seeded wrestlers in their brackets.
“It means so much,” Blumer, a sophomore, said. “My dad and my mom, I can’t thank them enough for taking me to practices and stuff and just egging me on to win this.”
Blumer predicted Friday night he would beat Luke Kemerer, the top seed, in the semifinals after losing to the Hempfield senior in the Section 1-AAA finals last week. He then executed coach Chris Heater’s game plan to beat Kemerer, 4-2, and followed it up with a 6-3 decision over Pine-Richland freshman Cole Spencer in the finals.
“I just believed,” he said.
Connor, who lost in the semifinals as a freshman and sophomore, won his first title with a 2-1 decision over Penn-Trafford’s Job Chishko, whom he beat twice earlier this season. Chishko defeated Connor in the section finals last week, but Connor turned the tables — in more than one way, as a reversal provided the winning points.
The Kiski Area junior said Chishko wrestled a different style against him in the section finals, so he made the adjustment Saturday to claim the title.
“It feels awesome to finally come through and win the WPIAL because it’s one of the hardest areas to wrestle in the state,” Connor said. “It’s awesome to call myself a WPIAL champ.”
Reid, a runner-up each of the past two seasons, bided his time against West Mifflin’s Gerald Brown in a defensive bout at heavyweight. He countered a late Brown shot, getting a takedown with nine seconds left to secure a 3-1 victory.
The Kiski Area senior, who missed the start of the season because of a pulmonary embolism in his lung, pointed to the ceiling after winning his match and then moved his hands up in a “raise-the-roof” gesture.
“Winning was awesome, and I just can’t thank God enough for the blessings,” Reid said. “The fact that I was able to wrestle again and the fact that I was privileged enough to have this honor of the WPIAL title, I’d just really like to thank God for everything.”
Levett didn’t exactly envision the circumstances of his first WPIAL title, which came by injury default over Waynesburg’s Jackson Henson. But he wasn’t complaining about reaching the top of the podium after three previous medals at WPIALs.
“It does feel strange because you’re expected to wrestle in the finals for the title,” said Levett, who lost to Henson in the WPIAL team semifinals. “It still feels good to win, of course. I would have loved to have tried to redeem myself and wrestle him again because he beat me last time, but I’ll take it for now, and I’m pretty sure I’ll see him at states.”
After suffering a knee injury in his quarterfinal win Friday, Levett came back Saturday with an 11-4 victory over Seneca Valley’s Drew Vlasnik in the semifinals. He found out about Henson’s injury default — and thus, his title — while taking a nap about 90 minutes before the start of the finals.
Kiski Area became the first team since Franklin Regional in 2015 to get four individual champions. All four claimed their first titles after either losing in the semifinals — Blumer and Connor — or finals — Levett and Reid — last season.
The team title also went to the Cavaliers with 145.5 points, well ahead of second-place Waynesburg (108.5).
Sophomore Nick Delp also qualified for the PIAA tournament, which begins Thursday in Hershey, by placing third at 160 pounds. He clinched his spot with a 1-0 decision over North Allegheny’s Jon Hoover in the consolation semifinals, then took third place when Mt. Lebanon’s Luke Stout injury defaulted.
“To get four champs here, our kids really wrestled well,” Heater said. “It was a very exciting day. I’m super excited for our four champs (and Delp). Getting four champs and a third’s pretty good out of here.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.