ShareThis Page
Blumer one of Kiski Area’s 11 semifinalists in WCCA tournament |

Blumer one of Kiski Area’s 11 semifinalists in WCCA tournament

| Friday, January 6, 2017 10:48 p.m
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Kiski Area's Joey Blumer ties up with Franklin Regional's Jimmy ONeil in their 145-pound quarterfinal bout during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association wrestling tournament at Franklin Regional on Jan. 6, 2017 in Murrysville. Blumer won by fall at 3:01.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Kiski Area's Noah Levett prepares to pin Greensburg Salem's Dajauhn Hertzog at 2:41 of their 126-pound quarterfinal bout during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association wrestling tournament at Franklin Regional on Jan. 6, 2017 in Murrysville.
Youngstown State tight end Shane Kuhn, a Kiski Area graduate.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Burrell's Corey Christie battles Norwin's Caleb Salvi during their 145-pound quarterfinal bout during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association wrestling tournament at Franklin Regional on Jan. 6, 2017 in Murrysville. Christie won by a 6-2 decision.

Kiski Area senior Joey Blumer’s bad memories of his performances at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament blurred together a bit as he rattled them off during the 64th rendition of the event Friday evening at Franklin Regional.

He nailed the name of every opponent that defeated him. Maybe the quality of wrestler that topped him each time made that feat a little easier.

Blumer, the No. 1 seed in the 145-pound weight class, enters Saturday’s WCCA tournament semifinals in search of his first title bout berth. Two of Westmoreland County’s more decorated wrestlers, three-time PIAA Class AAA champion Luke Pletcher and three-time PIAA Class AA champion Micky Phillippi, beat him the last two times he made it to the final four. Another of the county’s celebrated grapplers, Hempfield senior Jared Verkleeren, sits on the other side of Blumer’s bracket as a potential threat to the Kiski Area senior’s title chances.

“I have very few good memories here,” Blumer said. “It’s not even nerves at this point. I know, win or lose, as long as I gave it my best, I’m not going to be disappointed. But sometimes my best isn’t doing me too well here. The kids I’m wrestling here are pretty good.”

Verkleeren, an Iowa State recruit, won a championship at the vaunted Powerade Christmas Tournament last week.

“I can easily say that’s the first time that’s ever happened,” Blumer said of claiming the top seed in the county. “I’m going to try not to worry about seedings too much. I’m just going to try to go out there and beat whoever I have to.”

The semifinals begin at 11 a.m. Kiski Area has 11 wrestlers still in the hunt for titles and leads the team standings with 114 points, almost double the total of second place Franklin Regional (67).

A season ago, the Cavaliers won the county crown with no champions but four finalists. Blumer, Darren Miller (No. 1 seed at 106 pounds), Matt Siszka (No. 3 at 120), Noah Levett (No. 2 at 126), Cam Connor (No. 2 at 138), Nick Delp (No. 4 at 152), Brad Nagy (No. 1 at 170), Vince Romano (No. 3 at 182), Dan Starr (No. 1 at 195), Tom Starr (No. 2 at 220) and Isaac Reid (No. 1 at 285) give the team plenty of chances to head home with gold this time.

Siszka looks to join Blumer as a four-time medalist. He reached the finals for the first time in 2016 but found himself seeded third in his weight class as this tournament behind last season’s 113-pound champion, Franklin Regional’s Colton Camacho, and the third-place finisher at 113, Vince Distefanis.

“There’s really no reason I can’t win this tournament, so that’s the main goal,” Siszka said. “I didn’t really take (the seeding) as disrespect, because I know with us three, it could’ve gone either way. It’s more important who’s No. 1, 2 and 3 at the end than the beginning.”

Levett left the tournament with silver each of the previous two seasons. Franklin Regional’s Devin Brown, an eventual PIAA Class AAA champion, defeated Levett in the finals in 2015. Then Southmoreland’s Tyler Griffiths, the top seed, prevailed 2-1 in the title bout in 2016.

Unfortunately for the Kiski Area junior, his odds of finishing atop the medal stand Saturday likely are less favorable than in either of the previous two years, as three-time state champion Spencer Lee of Franklin Regional is the No. 1 seed at 126.

“I’m hoping to try to pull something out,” Levett said. “I’m not going to back down.

“The only way I’d be upset (with another second-place finish) is if I know I didn’t give my hardest out there. I use these as a learning experience. These tournaments mean something, but really the main thing is placing at states as high as I can get. These are all just learning experiences.”

Burrell 138-pounder Ethan Awes and 145-pounder Corey Christie pulled off two of the tournament’s rare upsets to become the Bucs’ semifinalists. Christie won 6-2 over Norwin’s Caleb Salvi, a No. 3 seed. And Awes pulled off a last-second reversal to prevail 2-0 over Greensburg Salem’s Ian Ewing, a No. 4 seed.

“Our team is competitive,” said Awes, who placed sixth at 126 a season ago. “We’re just going to go out there and work our offense like we know how to.”

Valley heavyweight Dave Schuffert, the No. 2 seed in his weight class, pinned both of his opponents before the end of the first period to guarantee himself a medal. A season ago, he finished one win short of the top six.

“It’s way different this year,” Schuffert, a sophomore, said of his tournament experience. “It’s me and Isaac now. I just can’t wait.”

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.