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Victory from team’s lone senior helps Plum wrestling take down Gateway

Michael Love
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Plum’s Colin Stecik

Colin Stecik is the lone senior on the Plum wrestling roster.

So it seemed fitting that on senior night against Gateway on Jan. 23 Stecik would earn the deciding victory in a match that finished tied at 36 and went to the first criteria: most matches won.

“Colin’s been with the program for 11 years, and I’ve had the privilege of coaching him five out of the last six years in junior high and on varsity,” Plum coach Steve Stremple said. “It’s pretty neat when you get a chance to watch a kid grow up through the program and watch him mature as a young man and a leader on and off the mat.”

Stecik, wrestling in the final bout of the evening, earned a pin over Gateway’s Jay Rakhmatullaev at 152 pounds to send the match to criteria.

Plum finished with a 5-2 match advantage as Vince Citrano (106) and Jarrod Citrano (160) also earned pins, and Paul McClintock (120) and Damon Bracco (170) picked up decision victories.

“It was a great atmosphere,” Stremple said. “We had all the kids from the (Junior Olympic) program there. It was a great ending with Colin being the last match. We planned it that way, and him getting the pin to win the match was icing on the cake.”

The win was Plum’s second of the season. The Mustangs topped Central Catholic, 42-30, in a section match Dec. 12.

“With this season, and the forfeits we’ve had, especially in the upper weights, it’s been tough to come by a team win,” Stremple said. “We’ve been going out and focusing on improving every individual. We moved some guys around to get the matchups we needed (against Gateway), and they stepped up.”

Stremple said he hopes good vibes generated by the Gateway win continue for his wrestlers.

Plum’s preparation for the individual tournaments brings it to Penn-Trafford Winter Warrior Tournament on Feb. 2. The format is round-robin with the plan for each wrestler to compete five times throughout the day.

“The goal is to get kids as many matches as possible, especially since teams don’t have full lineups,” Stremple said. “With regular dual matches, a kid might not get to wrestle five times because of forfeits.”

With 10 teams, Stremple said each wrestler should get that number of matches at each weight class.

“They expect an average of eight at each weight class, so that’s not too bad,” Stremple said.

Several from Plum got the chance to wrestle often at the Allegheny County Tournament on Jan. 18 and 19 at Fox Chapel High School, and Vince Citrano and Evan Stinson came away with top-eight medals.

Citrano captured his fourth tournament medal of his freshman season as he placed second to South Park’s Joey Fischer in the 106 bracket.

Citrano pinned his way through three matches, including third-period falls in the quarterfinals and semifinals, to set up his opportunity in the finals.

“It was a challenge, just like the other tournaments I’ve been to this year, but I went after it and gave it all I had,” he said. “The tournament gave me added confidence, but I know I have to stay humble, continue to grind and get it going for the postseason.”

Stinson went 1-1 in the 138-pound championship bracket and scored a pair of consolation wins en route to eighth place.

“I came in not sure if I would place because it’s a really hard tournament,” Stinson said. “But I tried my hardest in every match, and things worked out for me. I was really happy about placing. It makes me want to shoot even higher at sections and hopefully WPIALs.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at [email protected] or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.