HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING: Phillippi becomes fourth Derry wrestler with back-to-back WPIAL titles
BRIDGEVILLE — Before Saturday night, only three Derry wrestlers in the 79-year history of the WPIAL championships had won back-to-back titles in the tournament.
Derry sophomore Micky Phillippi doesn’t wrestle for the accolades, but the returning state champ sure doesn’t mind joining another elite group.
Phillippi (120 pounds) continued to write his name in the Derry history books and became just the fourth wrestler in school history to capture a second straight WPIAL Class AA title Saturday at Chartiers Valley High School.
Derry’s Cole Wano (113), Stone Kepple (126) and Derek Baker (152) and West Shamokin’s William Hockenberry (106) and Brenden Glover (182) each qualified for the first time for the PIAA Southwest Regional Championships, which begin Friday in Johnstown.
The top seven wrestlers in each weight class advanced to regionals.
Meanwhile, at Gateway High School, Indiana sophomore heavyweight Kyle Nothnagel placed third at the Section 1-AAA tournament to qualify for the WPIAL Southwest Regional tournament, which will begin Thursday at Canon McMillan High School.
Nothnagel (19-4) earned a 4-2 decision over Hempfield junior Chase Logan in the consolation finals.
The top five wrestlers in each weight class advance to regionals.
Phillippi (34-4), the 113-pound Class AA state champ last year who’s ranked eighth in the country at 120 by Intermatwrestle.com, scored an 18-3 technical fall win over second-seeded Freedom freshman Kody Komara in the finals.
Phillippi flattened Avella’s Luke Lloyd in just 1:35 in the semifinals.
Prior to Phillippi, only Troy Dolan, Travis Shaffer and Jimmy Gulibon had claimed multiple WPIAL titles. Gulibon earned four PIAA titles, Dolan captured three, and Shaffer won one.
“It feels awesome,” Phillippi said. “Things are a little different this year because it seems like everyone knows me and everyone’s pulling for me, but at the same time I’ve got to think about it the same way, like I never won anything. I really just have to take it one match at a time because anyone can win at any time.”
Phillippi suffered his last setback in the 120-pound championship match of the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Tournament, where he dropped a 4-2 decision to Latrobe sophomore Luke Pletcher on Jan. 10.
Pletcher, the PIAA Class AAA champ at 106 last year, is ranked No. 1 at 120 by Intermatwrestle.com.
He also served Phillippi his first defeat of the year, a 3-2 decision, on Dec. 23.
“Right now all he’s thinking about is winning a regional title and then winning another state title. It’s definitely not going to be easy but those are his ultimate goals,” Derry coach Mike Weinell said.
Kepple (30-11), a sophomore and Section 2-AA runner-up, fell to second-seeded Valley senior Patrick Dewitt, 9-2, in the semifinals.
Kepple then bested Burrell freshman Anthony Marra, 5-1, in the consolation semifinals before losing to Mount Pleasant sophomore Mike Novak, 1-0, in the consolation finals.
“I know he can compete at this level and once he gets the confidence to do so I really he’s going to be very tough to beat the next few years,” Weinell said.
Glover (31-4), a junior, pinned four straight opponents in the consolation bracket Saturday, including Keystone Oaks senior Jake Walker, who he decked in 2:29 in the consolation finals.
Glover, a Section 3-AA runner-up, qualified for last year’s WPIAL tournament but didn’t compete due to an injury.
“He lost a tough quarterfinal-round match last night and he came back this morning with the attitude that he was going to take second,” West Shamokin coach Tyler Altmeyer said. “He wrestled hard and pinned his way through and finished third. It was pretty awesome.”
Sophomore Wano (20-9), a third-place finisher at the Section 2-AA tournament, blanked Kittanning sophomore Brendon Malia, 4-0, in the fifth-place consolation bout.
Hockenberry (24-9) dropped a 6-3 decision to Valley sophomore Sequawon Harris in the fifth-place consolation match. A sophomore, Hockenberrry won the school’s first ever Section 3-AA title last Saturday.
Senior Baker (17-21) outlasted South Side senior Dan Wiesen, 4-2, in the seventh-place consolation bout.
West Shamokin junior John Wissinger (20-12) fell one win shy of qualifying for regionals. Wissinger dropped an 8-3 decision to West Greene senior John Isiminger in the seventh-place consolation bout at 195.