Kiski Area wrestling takes 3rd at PIAA team tournament
HERSHEY — When you set a goal of being state champion, anything less could be considered a disappointment.
Kiski Area saw its dreams of winning a state title dashed in the semifinals, but the Cavaliers regrouped and came back strong to finish third by first defeating WPIAL rival Canon-McMillan, 30-24, and then District 1 champion Council Rock South, 34-20, Saturday at the Giant Center.
“We had to change the course of what we were doing after losing in the semifinals,” Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said. “It’s not easy to do. Our guys were set on being in the finals and taking another crack at Bethlehem Catholic.
“We had a really tough match with Northampton and lost those four matches by a point. We regrouped and had a heck of a match with Canon-Mac, and then I thought we wrestled our best match against Council Rock South.”
With strong support from their student body, Kiski Area (19-1) withstood a strong effort from Canon-McMillan.
The Big Macs saw a call in the 132-pound bout go against them to swing the match Kiski’s way. Instead of Ross Remington getting a 4-3 win with a takedown at the buzzer, the officials waved it off, allowing Kiski Area’s Jared Curcio escape with the 3-2 victory.
Canon-McMillan was penalized a team point after arguing the call.
“It is tough beating a team for the third time in the season,” Heater said. “Canon-McMillan gave us its best shot.”
Kiski started quickly against the Big Macs with Cam Connor (160) and Jack Blumer (170) picking up pins.
But Alex Hendal turned the tide for Canon-McMillan when he rallied from a 3-0 deficit to pin Troy Kuhn at 220.
That made things interesting the rest of the way.
Darren Miller came up with a big pin at 126 to slow Canon-McMillan’s momentum, and Curcio’s win gave the Cavaliers enough space to hang on. Enzo Morlacci ended the match with a 4-0 win against Blake Joseph at 145.
In the third-place match, Kiski Area won the first five bouts and built a 19-0 lead.
Nick Delp (170) got things started with a 5-1 win against Nik Korbich. Hunter Dilts followed with a win at 182, Brayden Roscosky got a major at 195, Kuhn a pin (25 seconds) at 220 and Stone Joseph earned a 3-1 win at heavyweight.
After Council Rock South strung together three wins by decisions (106-120), Miller stopped the momentum with a technical fall at 126. Sammy Starr got a win at 132 to make it 27-9.
A Connor major at 152 and a Blumer win, the 100th of his career, at 160 finished things.
“I’m happy I got it in this great atmosphere,” Blumer said of his milestone. “We had a great student section. Taking third as a team is not what we wanted, (but) we’ll take it. We’ll be back next year and go for the gold.”
Kiski, making its eighth trip to the state tournament, improved to 27-12 overall. It was its fifth trophy. It placed second in 2018, third in ’17, fourth in ’05 and second in ’03.
Bethlehem Catholic, which defeated Kiski in last season’s finals, won its second consecutive title by beating Northampton, 31-19.
“We had a tough loss, but we came back and regrouped,” Connor said. “We won the matches we needed to win to finish third.
“I just wanted to go out and get an emphatic win to end my career in team competition.”
Now Kiski has two weeks to get ready for the start of the individual tournament, which begins Feb. 23.
Heater hopes many of his wrestlers return to Hershey in a month.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.