Franklin Regional’s Lee, Penn-Trafford’s Coy make WPIAL wrestling history
It’s hard to upstage Franklin Regional senior Spencer Lee and Penn-Trafford senior Cam Coy, just ask the Hempfield wrestling program.
On a night Hempfield set a record at the WPIAL Class AAA Championships, the headlines still belonged to Lee and Coy.
Lee became the 27th four-time WPIAL wrestling champion and Coy was the 75th three-time winner.
After Lee pinned Kiski Area junior Noah Levett in the first period of the 126-pound championship, he held four fingers up to signify his accomplishment and waved to the crowd.
“This title means a lot,” Lee said. “This is my last WPIAL match and probably the last time these people will see me.”
Lee will wrestle collegiately at Iowa and expects to be busy the next few years.
Arguably the best wrestler in WPIAL history, Lee (32-0, 141-0) is off to Hershey to finish his remarkable high school career. If he wins four matches and a fourth PIAA title, he will become only the sixth wrestler in the state to achieve such a goal.
“I want to be known as an ambassador of the sport,” Lee said after his fourth first-period pin of the WPIAL championships. “I set a goal in fifth grade when I won my first title that I wanted to be undefeated. Now, I’m four wins away.”
Coy (34-0, 145-11) defeated Canon-McMillan freshman Gerrit Nijenhuis, 5-2, in the 152-pound final. While he was happy with the win, he was disappointed how he wrestled in the finals.
“I had too many things going through my head,” Coy said. “I’ll need to wrestle a lot better if I want to win a third PIAA title. Maybe I’ll just crush everyone there. There is a good chance I’ll face Gerrit in the finals next week.”
With senior Vincent Distefanis (120), junior Luke Kemerer (135) and senior Jarod Verkleeren (145) winning, it was the first time in Hempfield history that it had three champions the same season.
Distefanis (31-3) started when he took down top seed Logan Macri of Canon-McMillan, 3-1, in overtime. Distefanis was able to fight off Macri’s aggression and finally secure a takedown in overtime.
“It feels awesome,” Distefanis said. “I credit a lot of our success to the way coach (Vince DeAugustine) trains us. He prepares us for this time of the seaso0n.”
Kemerer (34-2) defeated Central Catholic senior Dom Means, 3-2. Kemerer and Means have been practice partners in the past.
“It’s tough enough to have one champion at the WPIAL tournament,” Kemerer said. “But to have three while only bringing five means a lot to me and the team.”
Verkleeren finished off Hempfield’s perfect finals when he defeated Kiski Area senior Joey Blumer, 9-4.
Verkleeren joins his brother Derek as a WPIAL winner. Derek won his title in 2016 at Belle Vernon.
“Hempfield historically has had some outstanding wrestlers,” Verkleeren said. “But to be part of his is pretty nice.”
Norwin freshman Kurtis Phipps used a takedown in overtime to defeat Shaler sophomore Ryan Sullivan, 3-1, to win the 106 title.
He joins his brother Drew as a WPIAL champion. Drew was the 195-pound winner in 2016.
“It shows all the hard work I’ve put in during the past year,” Phipps said. “My hard work paid off in the win because I kept after him.”
Winning their second titles were Waynesburg junior Caleb Morris (132), Albert Gallatin junior Tim Wallace (160), Bethel Park senior Nino Bonaccorsi (182) and North Allegheny senior Jake Woodley (195).
The other first-time winners were North Hills freshman Sam Hillegas (113), North Allegheny senior Eric Hong (160), Laurel Highlands junior Ian Edenfield (220) and Canon-McMillan senior Brendan Furman (285).
Edenfield is the first Laurel Highlands wrestler to win a title since 1980 when Greg Hensh won the 185 title.