SV’s Smith, Chappell advance to PIAA tourney
CANONSBURG — Santino Sloboda, Connor Smith and Tyler Chappell will continue their respective wrestling seasons Thursday at the PIAA Championships in Hershey.
But Saturday was a study in frustration for the Butler County trio at the WPIAL Class AAA Championships at Canon McMillan High School.
Butler freshman Sloboda took a 37-0 record into the 107-pound title match against Canon McMillan junior Tanner Mizenko and was pinned 39 seconds into the second period. Smith, a junior 114-pounder for Seneca Valley, lost an overtime decision to Franklin Regional’s Tyler Kapusta in the semifinal round.
Raider senior 127-pounder Tyler Chappell also lost a close match in the semifinals, dropping a 3-1 decision to Canon McMillan’s Andrew Binni. Smith went on to take place third at 114, Chappell fourth at 127 to qualify for the state tourney.
“Seedings don’t matter much at this point,” SV coach Kevin Wildrick said. “Anything can happen at the state meet. They got through and we’ll go from here.”
Sloboda had been cruising along at 107. He won all of his matches by technical fall at the Northern Sectional, then began the WPIAL tourney with a second-period pin and another win by technical fall. He decisioned North Allegheny’s Gus Stedeford 8-2 in the semifinals.
“He (Stedeford) was never in that match,” Butler coach Scott Stoner said. “He basically tried staying away from Santino, not allow him to get in on him and turn his hips like he did at the sectional.”
Mizenko (38-8) did not allow Sloboda to complete the long-distance shots the Butler wrestler likes to do. He scored a first-period takedown — forcing Sloboda to wrestle from behind — and started on top in the second period. Mizenko was able to overpower Sloboda and turn him for the pin.
“Mizenko is a junior, two more years of high school wrestling under his belt,” Stoner said prior to the final round. “He’s had more time to build up physically and he’s from a great program, wrestling here at home. Those Canon-Mac kids know how to get it done.
“Santino hasn’t wrestled this kid before. He will be a challenge. Undefeated going into the WPIAL final ... That’s a lot of pressure on a freshman.”
Sloboda admitted Mizenko’s physical strength was a factor.
“I haven’t wrestled a kid as strong as him,” he said. “I tried to get the upper hand early and I couldn’t get him down. Then he got me in a position I couldn’t power out of.”
Sloboda last lost a match at the junior state tournament last year. He was unbeaten in the regular season in seventh, eighth and ninth grade.
“I’m not accustomed to losing. I knew that first loss could come, but it hurts that it came now,” Sloboda said. “I’ll learn from this. He (Mizenko) was better prepared for this match. He out-wrestled me. I’ll make the adjustment.”
Smith (30-7) took a 4-1 lead on Kapusta into the third period of their semifinal bout. He got caught and put on his back late in the third frame, surrendering back points. Trailing 5-4, Smith scored an escape in the waning seconds and rolled on top of Kapusta just as time expired.
“I thought he had a reversal there at the end, had established control, which would have given him the win,” Wildrick said. “The official ruled it an escape, which only tied the match. We gave up those late points. You can’t put it in the hands of the officials like that.”
Smith gave up an escape in the 30-minute overtime, then couldn’t get it back as Kapusta held him down for the following 30-second interval for a 6-5 win.
Smith bounced back with a 5-2 decision in the consolation semifinal, then won by technical fall to claim third place.
“I lost my quarterfinal match down here last year and I let it affect me the rest of the tournament,” Smith said. “I learned from that. This time, I re-focused, knew I still had a chance to get to states. I had to take advantage of it.
“I’m thrilled I’m going. I’m excited about it. I plan to make the most of it.”
Chappell (30-7) was involved in a series of low-scoring matches over the weekend. He won his quarterfinal bout, 1-0, lost the 3-1 decision in the semifinals, won a 2-0 decision in the consolation semifinals. He was tied with Penn Trafford’s Hayden Coy 2-2 entering the third period, but surrendered points late in a 6-3 consolation final defeat.
“Sometimes Tyler wrestles not to lose and isn’t as aggressive as he needs to be,” Wildrick said. “You have to score points to win. He’s a seasoned wrestler who can do well at states.”
WPIAL AAA Wrestling Championships
107 pounds-Tanner Mizenko (Canon McMillan) pinned Santino Sloboda (Butler), 2:39
114-Connor Smith (Seneca Valley) tech. fall over Caiden Harbert (West Allegheny), 3:00 (15-0)
127-Hayden Coy (Penn Trafford) dec. Tyler Chappell (Seneca Valley), 6-3
285-Ethan Babay (Butler) pinned Shepherd Turk (Thomas Jefferson), 3:25
133-Jacob Braun (Greater Latrobe) pinned Zach Hill (Seneca Valley), 1:22
139-Kase Chopp (Butler) by forfeit over Nathan Monteparte (North Allegheny)
172-Nezumiiro Green (Central Catholioc) dec. Matt Zinkhann (Butler), 6-4
189-Mickey Kreinbucher (Butler) dec. Evan Letky (North Hills), 7-2
215-Landon Christie (Butler) by default over Geno Calgaro (Canon McMillan)