Four wrestlers from the East suburban coverage area advanced to the PIAA finals during the 2016-17 season. Cameron Coy and Jarod Verkleeren won titles, while Spencer Lee and Isaac Reed placed second.
Coy (38-0), a Penn-Trafford, advanced to the finals for the fourth consecutive year and claimed his third title. Coy and Lee became the ninth and tenth WPIAL wrestlers to achieve that feat in 80 years of PIAA wrestling.
"It’s awesome. I’m really excited," said Coy, who had mixed feelings about his achievement. "Unfortunately, I can’t say that I was a four-time champ, but having three titles in the state of Pennsylvania is nothing to complain about by any means. It’s not about the amount of times you win, it’s about being able to finish each year the way you want to."
Coy recorded two pins and a major decision to earn his fourth title berth, then posted a 5-2 victory in the title match against Erie Prep sophomore Carter Strarocci. Coy was happier with his performance at Hershey than the week before at the WPIAL/Southwest Regional.
"I didn’t think I wrestled my best at the WPIAL Tournament," Coy said. "It’s nice to be back on top. Hershey’s a different story. It’s just more important to win even though you want to do it in a dominant fashion. Just getting on top of the podium again is a great testament to all the hard work me and all my teammates go through."
Coy finished his high school career with a 147-11 record, which places him second on Penn-Trafford's all-time list.
** Verkleeren, a Hempfield senior, put a year of disappointment behind him when he claimed the 145-pound title. Verkleeren sat out the postseason last year, at Belle Vernon, after failing to reach his weight descent plan. Verkleeren had placed fourth in the state as a sophomore and was one of the favorites at his weight last season, but didn't get a chance to show what he could do.
"It’s a ton of relief," Verkleeren said. "It’s the biggest thing. Four years of training for this and to end my high school career on a win. It's a huge relief [to finally reach the top of the podium]."
Verkleeren (30-1) learned a lesson from last year's unfortunate experience.
"I tried to put last year's disappointment behind me, but it was definitely in the back of my mind," Verkleeren said. "Never take wrestling for granted. It’s always a privilege to be able to wrestle out there."
Verkleeren, seeded fourth at 145 pounds, recorded two major decisions before knocking off top-seed Brock Wilson of Nazareth, 4-3, in the semifinals. He faced Bellefonte's Brock Port, the No. 2 seed, in the title match and recorded a dominant 16-5 victory.
"It feels awesome," said Verkleeren, who could finally celebrate. "It felt great in my finals match. It’s the way I wanted to end it."
** Lee, a Franklin Regional senior, fell one win short of perfection after a 6-5 loss to Exeter's Austin DeSanto in the PIAA Class 126-pound final. The loss ended his goal of finishing his high school career as an undefeated four-time champion. After the match, it was revealed that Lee wrestled the final month of the season with a knee injury that required
Lee concluded his career with a 141-1 record.
** Reed, a Kiski Area junior, advanced to the PIAA Class AAA heavyweight final, but lost to a familiar opponent. He dropped a 5-3 decision to Canon-McMillan senior Brendan Furman. It was the fifth time the two met this season and Furman won four times, including wins in the WPIAL and PIAA finals.