Norwin reaches WPIAL wrestling tournament for 6th time in program history
When Vince DeAugustine took over the Norwin wrestling program, he wanted to make the team relevant. He wanted to build a program that didn’t accept being mediocre.
Since the WPIAL began the holding a team tournament in 1979, Norwin had qualified only five times before this season. The Knights are 1-5 in postseason matches.
But after placing third at the Section 1-AAA tournament by defeating Greensburg Salem, 38-33, last Wednesday, the Knights earned their sixth playoff appearance. They were scheduled to face Butler in the opening round at Seneca Valley on Wednesday, after deadline for this edition.
DeAugustine had mixed feelings about his team’s performance in the section tournament, which included a 40-19 loss to his old team, Hempfield, in the semifinals.
“Obviously, I feel we could have done better,” said DeAugustine, who coached the Spartans the previous 13 years. “I think the pressure of a big match got the best of some of the wrestlers.
“They’ve never been in this situation previously. I was glad we were in this environment. It’s going to help them.”
But DeAugustine said the team had a lot of work to do before the WPIAL tournament began.
“We have to put a lot of work in the room,” DeAugustine said. “If we want to get better, that’s where it starts.”
Norwin (10-4) competed in the Sharon Duals on Saturday and DeAugustine was eager to see how they would compete.
In the section tournament, Kurtis Phipps (120 pounds), John Altieri (132), Bryce Long (160), Clayton Morris (182) and Ryan Weinzen (220) picked up two wins each.
Morris’ 6-3 win against Caleb Chismar clinched the Greensburg Salem match. But against Hempfield, the Knights allowed five pins and a major decision.
“We allowed too many bonus points against Hempfield,” DeAugustine said. “Hempfield has tough kids. I should know because I coached many of them.
“We battled hard. Hempfield won 55-18 last year, so we were able to close the gap some, so that’s good. The Greensburg Salem match went as expected. We knew it would be tight.”
And while DeAugustine hopes his team enjoys competing in the team tournament, he wants them to ramp up their intensity for the individual tournaments that begin in February.
DeAugustine compiled a 218-52 record at Hempfield, but more importantly he coached six state champions, two runners-up, 12 WPIAL champions, 39 state qualifiers, 28 state placewinners and had 34 section champions.
Hempfield won its only WPIAL team title in 2007, and it was a two-time PIAA placewinner.
Norwin doesn’t have a state champion yet. Phipps was close last season, falling in the 106-pound final.
Tim Morgan was a runner-up in 1965 at 95 pounds, and Drew Phipps, Kurtis’ brother, was a runner-up at 195 in 2016.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.