Kiski Area wrestling finishes third in PIAA team tournament
HERSHEY — After Kiski Area lost to Bethlehem Catholic in the PIAA Class AAA team quarterfinals Friday, the Cavaliers readjusted their goals.
“I wasn’t leaving here without putting a third-place medal around their neck,” Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said after his team won three matches Saturday at Giant Center to finish third. “This is a great bunch of kids, and being third in the state isn’t too bad.
“I told them after we lost that I believed in my heart that we were the third-best team in the state, but we had to prove it on Saturday.”
The Cavaliers did.
Kiski Area (24-1) won four matches after losing to Bethlehem Catholic — Canon-McMillan (29-24), Council Rock South (42-14) and Erie Cathedral Prep (41-21) — to earn third place.
Nazareth needed criteria No. 2 (most wins) to edge District 11 rival and returning PIAA champion Bethlehem Catholic, 30-29, in the final. Reynolds won the Class AA title, defeating Northern Lebanon, 54-18.
“We knew that Canon-McMillan would be our toughest match (today),” Heater said. “It is tough wrestling a team three times in one season, and Canon-McMillan was a handful. They did what they needed to keep it close.”
Kiski Area sophomore Cam Connor helped clinch the Canon-McMillan match by getting a 7-6 victory against Tim Hritsko. The match was tied when the two wrestlers got into a break scramble late in the third period. Connor ended up on top for a takedown.
Kiski Area won eight bouts and got a pin from Logan Pollick (160) to begin the match and a major decision from Noah Levett (126).
Against Council Rock South, Kiski won 10 matches and got pins from Matt Siszka (120), Vinny Romano (170) and Isaac Reid (285) and major-decision wins from Darren Miller (106), Noah Levett (126) and Danny Starr (195).
In the third place-match, Kiski Area won nine of the first 11 matches to put Erie Cathedral Prep away quickly.
Romano (182), Tom Starr (220), Miller and Joey Blumer (145) had for pins for the Cavaliers. Romano has a great weekend, winning six times and getting four pins.
“If there are any wrestlers from our team that benefitted from this tournament, it was Vinny (Romano) and the Starrs (Danny and Tom),” Kiski Area senior Joey Blumer said. “A lot of the guys will benefit from being here. There is no bigger stage to prepare for the individual tournament.”
Romano said he’ll do anything to help the team win.
“I just did my job,” Romano said. “We had a great tournament.”
Blumer said finishing third was an “awesome feeling.”
“We wanted to be state champions, but third in the state is a great accomplishment,” Blumer said. “We had to change our goals.”
Many Kiski wrestlers had a big weekend, and Heater was proud of his team’s effort throughout the tournament.
“This is a huge accomplishment,” Heater said. “They wrestle for one another. I feel more than half our lineup has a shot at coming back here in a month and getting on the podium if we get out of districts. This tournament should help them believe they can do it.”
Kiski Area has two weeks off before the individual competition begins with its Section 1 tournament.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.