Knoch gets no favors from North Allegheny
JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP — The mats were finally rolled out at Knoch High School on Wednesday night as the school inaugurated varsity wrestling.
The schedule-maker didn’t do Knoch any favors, however, as the Knights had to face seven-time WPIAL champion North Allegheny in its first dual meet.
North Allegheny’s extensive experience prevailed, as the Tigers rolled to a 79-0 victory to spoil the historic occasion.
The Knights forfeited two weight classes, and North Allegheny won 10 of the other 12 matches via pins. But several Knoch individuals wrestled well, and Knights coach Mark McLaughlin was happy to get the program off the ground.
“I don’t know how the process of the schedules are drawn up — and I don’t question that,” McLaughlin said. “I think, actually, this is a benefit for our team. We always talk about gauging where we’re at. Not to discredit any other teams, but with a lesser team than the caliber of NA, maybe we could not progress as quickly.”
At 145, Knoch’s Nash Leslie had a brief lead with a takedown of Ryan McCullough and trailed, 5-3, late in the match. Two timeouts to clear blood prevented Leslie from holding momentum in the battle. McCullough pinned Leslie with 18 seconds to go, denying the Knights a chance to score.
“I felt the match could have gone either way,” Leslie said. “I thought the one who would make the mistake would lose the match, and I made the mistake. But if.you watched the match, you see that we’re not far from it. I wish I could have come up with our first win.”
“Nash is a competitor,” McLaughlin said. “His mat presence needs to improve. At 3-3 with 40 seconds left, you’ve got to maintain good positioning. If that had taken place, I felt very confident that if he could have come out from bottom, he was right there.”
Though the Tigers were a heavy favorite coming into the season opener, coach Jamie Kyriazis wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“One thing I was impressed with was that the Knoch wrestlers were battling the whole way through,” Kyriazis said. “You don’t ever want to underestimate anybody. I know that’s a new program, but you still have to go out there with intensity.”
“I was very proud of how our kids wrestled tonight,” McLaughlin said. “It was tough being inexperienced going up against a formidable team.”
Knoch will next be in action next Wednesday at Hampton in a Section 3-AAA encounter.