Feb. 28—Coaches around the state talk about how tough the WPIAL is in wrestling.
That was proven again Saturday at the Class AAA WPIAL/PIAA Southwest Regional at Canon-McMillan.
There were a lot of great battles, a lot of physical matches. There was only one pin in the finals, and two wrestlers left on stretchers and were taken to a local hospital by ambulance to be evaluated.
With only three super regional spots available in each weight because of the coronavirus, wrestlers left it on the mat to earn one of those valuable spots. Some left with smiles, and other left in tears.
"It's been a few years since we only got three qualifiers from here," Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said. "I hope this is just a covid thing this year. You kind of forget how difficult of a day it can be here."
Seneca Valley seniors Dylan Chappell and Alejandro Herrera-Rondon were two of the wrestlers who were smiling after they captured their third WPIAL titles.
Winning their second titles were Franklin Regional senior Carter Dibert, Waynesburg senior Wyatt Henson, Pine-Richland senior Cole Spencer, Waynesburg senior Luca Augustine, Belle Vernon junior Cole Weightman and Hempfield senior Isaiah Vance.
Denied their second titles were Waynesburg sophomore Mac Church and Hempfield senior Ty Linsenbigler. Both, however, advanced to the next tournament.
Dibert used an escape, takedown and a three-point nearfall in the second period to build a 6-0 lead in the 126-pound final and held off a late charge from Hempfield senior Ethan Berginc for an 8-5 win in a battle of past PIAA champions.
"Ethan is a tough opponent," Dibert said. "It's always a tough match against him. He's a brawler, and he keeps coming. You have to wrestle hard all six minutes."
Dibert spent a few minutes after the match talking to coach Matt Lebe about what needs to be better the next time.
"I have to keep improving," Dibert said. "It's something I've been working on. I feel good that I won for a second time."
Vance got back on the winning trail against Greensburg Salem junior Bill McChesney in the heavyweight final, winning 1-0. He got an escape to begin the last period to take the lead. He lost for the first time in his career to McChesney in last week's Section 2 finals.
"After last week's loss, I knew I wasn't working hard enough in the room," Vance said. "So that following Monday, I busted my butt every day in practice until today and it paid off."
Dylan Chappell staved off a late rally to defeat Hempfield junior Briar Priest, 7-5, at 132 pounds. Herrera-Rondon used a second-period reversal to edge Waynesburg sophomore Rocco Welsh, 2-0, in the 152 final.
"I'm excited to win my third WPIAL title and hopefully I can win a few more after this," Dylan Chappell said. "Hopefully, we're on a good track."
Herrera-Rondon, who lost to Norwin's Kurtis Phipps in 2018 in the finals, defeated Welsh for the third time this season.
"It's a dream come true, honestly," Herrera-Rondon said. "When I came here my freshman year I thought I might win one or two. I didn't have much expectations my freshman year.
"I wanted to be part of it and to say that I won three that warms my heart. And the fact I did it with Dylan, my best friend, who I won Nationals together with, this is more magical for me."
Henson was too slick for Norwin senior John Altieri in an 8-3 win at 145. Spencer used a takedown in the third period to defeat Norwin junior Chase Kranitz, 3-1, to win 160.
Augustine claimed his second title with a hard-fought 2-1 win against Kiski Area senior Sammy Starr at 172. Weightman took his second title with a 7-0 win against Armstrong senior Logan Harmon.
It was a family affair for the Chappells as sophomore Tyler Chappell won the 106-pound title with a 5-2 win against Plum freshman Antonino Walker.
"I was happy to see my brother win it, now we can share in this achievement together," Dylan Chappell said.
The other winners were: North Allegheny junior Dylan Coy, who edged Waynesburg sophomore Mac Church, 4-3, at 120; Waynesburg junior Cole Homet, who downed Franklin Regional junior Finn Solomon, 4-2, at 138; and Hampton senior Justin Hart, who held on for a 3-2 win against Kiski Area senior Brayden Roscosky at 189.
Waynesburg and Seneca Valley had three champions each, and the Raiders won the team title with 120 points. Hempfield was second with 85.5 points.
The Raiders also advanced seven wrestlers and the Spartans four. Joining the three finalists was Linsenbigler.
Watch an archived video stream of the WPIAL Class AAA championships on the TribLive High School Sports Network.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .