BRIDGEVILLE — Although few shared his opinion, returning state champ and Derry 113-pounder Micky Phillippi envisioned wrestling alongside teammate and unseeded 126-pounder Stone Kepple in the semifinal round of the WPIAL Class AA Championships.
Minutes after Phillippi made quick work of his quarterfinal-round foe, Kepple made his fellow sophomore look prophetic by upsetting third-seeded Carlynton senior Evan Ban on Friday night at Chartiers Valley High School.
Phillippi and Kepple not only advanced to today’s semifinals with their wins, the duo also qualified for the PIAA Southwest Regional Championships, which begin next Friday in Johnstown.
Also, Derry’s Cole Wano (113), Derek Baker (152), Joe Kelly (182) and Noah Wiencek (195) and West Shamokin’s William Hockenberry (106), Brendon Glover (182) and John Wissinger (195) each moved on in the consolation bracket.
The top seven wrestlers in each weight class advance to regionals.
“I knew he was going to win, and he’s got a good chance to pull off an upset in the semis, too,” Phillippi said of Kepple (29-8), who faces second-seeded and unbeaten Valley senior Patrick Dewitt in the semifinals.
A Section 2-AA runner-up, Kepple decked Avonworth freshman Ken Azzarella in 3:28 in the first round. He then flattened Ban in just 1:51 in the quarterfinals.
“The biggest thing is he’s guaranteed a spot at regionals next week now,” Derry coach Mike Weinell said. “So that takes all the pressure off him. He can just go out and wrestle worry-free now.”
Awarded a first-round bye, the top-seeded Phillippi (32-4), who won his second straight Section 2-AA title last Saturday, pinned Kittanning junior Brody Trumbull in just 56 seconds in the quarterfinals.
Phillippi, ranked eighth in the country at 120 by Intermatwrestle.com, will face Avella sophomore Luke Lloyd in the semifinals.
“He just wants to wrestle all the time, and mentally that’s a great thing,” Weinell said. “He was so excited I could hardly shut him up the whole way here, which makes it nice. He’s ready to go and he’s ready to make a big run at it this year. He looks really good.”
Phillippi last tasted defeat in the 120-pound championship match of the Westmoreland County Coaches Association Tournament, where he fell to Latrobe sophomore Luke Pletcher, 4-2, 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.
“I feel great, mentally and physically,” said Phillippi, the PIAA Class AA champ at 113 last season. “I’ve got a good mentality. I’ve just been telling myself I’m going to win no matter what because that’s just how you’ve got to be to beat the good kids. Physically, I feel great. I feel in shape and I feel 100 percent.”
Wano (17-8), a sophomore and third-place Section 2-AA finisher, thumped Kittanning sophomore Brendon Malia, 16-2, in the first round before getting pinned in 2:39 by top-seeded Burgettstown junior Austin McDermitt in the quarterfinals.
Baker (15-20), a senior, beat Kittanning sophomore Nate Vukovich, 7-2, in the opening round. He then got flattened by second-seeded South Fayette senior Grant Fetchet in 48 seconds.
Hockenberry (22-7), a sophomore who won his first Section 3-AA title last Saturday, pinned Laurel freshman Dalton Hartle in 3:36 in the first round. Hockenberry then got flattened by Southmoreland sophomore Cole Lambie in 2:47 in the quarterfinals.
Glover (27-4), a junior and the Section 3-AA runner-up, pinned Burgettstown sophomore Brad Hucik in 2:47 in the first round before dropping a 10-7 decision to third-seeded West Greene senior Dalton Wildman in the quarterfinals.
“I’m pleased so far,” West Shamokin coach Tyler Altmeyer said. “Brendon wrestled well against one of the better kids in the bracket, and Will and John just ran into some tough seeded wrestlers. Will and John are wrestling here for the first time. All three of those guys will have a chance to pick up some big wins in the morning.”
West Shamokin senior Brian Brown (19-8) and Derry senior Jarrett Dorazio (22-12) each qualified for the tournament but didn’t compete. Brown placed second at the Section 3-AA tournament, and Dorazio finished fourth at the Section 2-AA tournament.