Penn Hills wrestling focused on individual success
With a limited roster, the Penn Hills wrestling team continues to focus on individual success as the postseason approaches.
Recently, the Indians had two wrestlers reach the podium at the Allegheny County tournament Jan. 18-19 at Fox Chapel.
Senior Justin Perkins (11-4) finished fourth after losing the third-place bout to North Allegheny’s Max Stedeford, 3-2, in the 132-pound class. Freshman Steve Tucibat (11-11) defeated Keystone Oaks’ Greg Wagner by an 11-1 major decision to take fifth at 106.
Tucibat has seen more success as of late as he after dropping from 113 pounds.
“He is stronger. He was always wrestling kids that were bigger and stronger than him,” coach Jeremy Packer said. “When you have kids coming down from 120 to 113, there is a strength factor there. With him coming down from 113 to 106, it’s the same thing.
“He was always pretty good at getting in on shots, but he’s now able to finish. I think the strength factor allows him to finish on his offense a little bit more. He has been turning guys with regularity.”
In December, Perkins captured the 132-pound title at the Steve DeAugustino Holiday Classic at West Mifflin. He defeated West Mifflin’s Tony Salopek by a 16-1 technical fall.
Last season, Perkins finished second at West Mifflin.
“He has been really strong on his feet,” Packer said. “He’s scored a lot of takedowns. He has been really active on his feet and turning guys to their back. He has lost to kids ranked in the WPIAL or state. One thirty-two is a real tough weight class this year. He just has to keep his confidence on his feet just like he has.”
Also at West Mifflin, sophomore Hunter Shields (18-7) earned a third-place finish at 126 after defeating Laurel’s Nick Moore, 6-5.
Junior Mike Devito (11-10) was the third Indian to reach the podium at West Mifflin. Devito, who reached the podium the first time in his career, finished sixth at 138 after losing to Portage’s Nate Shaffer, 4-3.
“We’ve been talking about the postseason the whole season,” Packer said. “We’ve been trying to focus on their individual success. We knew going into any dual meet, we were down 48 to 60 points walking in the gym. If we had four contested bouts, we wanted to win at least half of the four contested bouts.
“The biggest thing is for them to focus on what they can control as individuals. That is why we believe we’ve seen some success at the individual level at tournaments.”
Packer expects to get the four wrestlers through the section tournament into the WPIAL tournament.
Last season, Perkins lost both of his matches at 126 at the WPIAL Class AAA/Southwest Regional. Perkins was pinned by Canon-McMillan’s Kenny Hayman at 1:50 in the opening round before forfeiting his match in the losers’ bracket.
In the Section 1-3A tournament, Perkins beat Hempfield’s Jared Brean, 9-2, in the third-place consolation match.
“We want to score points, and when we got a guy down, try to get him on his back, pin him and get off the mat,” Packer said.
Andrew John is a freelance writer.