Last Updated: Thu Nov 11, 2021 - 3:48AM
Vinny Kilkeary has been making a name for himself on the wrestling mat since claiming a state title in his freshman year at Latrobe. Last week, his name was once again in the forefront of the local wrestling world as he committed to continue his career at Ohio State University. There was a multitude of factors that drove Kilkeary to select Ohio State as the next destination in his wrestling career, one of them being the distance from home.
“It’s so close - three and a half hours - and all of my family can come watch my matches, everyone I know can come out and watch my matches,” Kilkeary said. “Distance was a big thing, but the coaches, the environment and the kids that are going there already were also a huge part of why I decided to go there.”
Kilkeary, a junior, is no stranger to the spotlight, having already captured the PIAA Class AAA 106-pound state title as well as winning the 2021 Super 32 tournament, which is one of the most competitive tournaments in the country. Despite having a target on his back as a state champ, Kilkeary didn’t allow the pressure or expectations get to him, instead he used his past success to motivate him on the mat.
“I didn’t think ‘oh man I have to win’... that never went through my head,” he said. “I just think if I go out there and perform how I know how to perform no one can beat me, that’s how I thought about it.”
Kilkeary certainly faced an uphill battle in his quest for a state title in 2020. After losing in the WPIAL final and not winning a tournament during his freshman season up to that point, he said he started to notice a change while wrestling in the PIAA tournament. It all began with his 106-pound quarterfinal match against Downingtown East junior Keanu Manuel in which Kilkeary used a takedown in overtime to win 3-1.
“In my quarters match, when I beat the kid in the quarters I was like ‘man I can do this," Kilkeary said confidently. “I just knew it could happen, I beat one of the top kids in the state I just had to go make it happen in the semis and the finals.”
He did just that, scoring 11 points in the third period to rally for a 14-10 thrilling semifinal victory over Ty Kasak of Bethlehem Catholic. Then, in the championship, Kilkeary pinned Erie Cathedral Prep's Jacob Vandee to secure the 106-pound title.
After a third place finish in states as a sophomore last year, Kilkeary has continued to sharpen his craft and is looking to repeat a lot of the success he’s already achieved. He’s pointed to a big improvement in his footwork and relentless work ethic as two reasons why he believes he can win another state title this year.
“I’ve been working on my footwork a lot more. I’ve been trying to get a main shot down, focusing on that mostly. I’ve also been working on top and bottom and keeping it the same on top and bottom but changing up my feet a little.”
Kilkeary is aware of the amount of work he will have to put in to see similar success to his freshman season. He’s never shied away from putting in time on the mat, and through his relentless work ethic, he feels he can reach similar heights that he’s already attained in his career. He’s mindful of the fact that there are some tough wrestlers in the state and he will have some major competition to go up against, but Kilkeary is still ready for another big season ahead.
“I’m going to have to work harder and harder every day to make sure that I’m not getting past up and that I’m getting better myself,” said Kilkeary. “I think I go out there and I wrestle as hard as I can, and I think it can happen again. I just have to put it all together, go on the mat and do it. You go out there and wrestle as tough as you can, you got to beat the best to be the best so why not do it.”
Westmoreland Recruiting News
Wednesday is National Letter of Intent Day. For a complete listing of commitments, head to our College Commitment Page.
Franklin Regional baseball standout Louie Kegerreis considered taking a gap year but instead will play this spring. Kegerreis, who graduated high school last spring, committed to the University of Delaware last week. The infielder helped lead the Panthers to a WPIAL championship in June batting .562 with three home runs and 24 RBIs.
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