Penguins Cup Crown and First PIAA Individual Wrestling Title Highlight Thomas Jefferson HS Winter Sports Season
- Last Updated on Monday, 02 May 2022 03:29
A final score of 6-5 was the title tally to highlight a historic winter sports season for several Thomas Jefferson High School teams and individuals.
|Thomas Jefferson High School hockey team celebrates after winning the Penguins Cup|
|TJ senior, Brian Finnerty (center) stands atop the podium after capturing the PIAA 215 lb. wrestling title. (Photos by WJHSD)|
The winter campaign was capped by the TJ hockey team rallying to capture its first PIHL 2A Penguins Cup crown since 2000. Sophomore Scottie Allan’s put back :46 into overtime lifted the top-seeded Jaguars to a scintillating 6-5 comeback victory over No. 2 Franklin Regional for the title. Playing in front of a raucous, sold-out crowd at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the Jaguars (20-2-1) trailed 5-1 heading into the third period but scored four unanswered goals to force overtime.
TJ advanced to the PIHL 2A state championship game against Flyers Cup victor Pennridge, but suffered a heart-breaking 4-3, double overtime loss at Ice Line Rinks in West Chester. The Jaguars were seeking their first state title since 2000.
The Jaguars were led to their first Penguins Cup title in 22 years by first-year head coach John Zeiler, who was a center on TJ’s 1998-99-2000 Penguins Cup and state championship squads and played for the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.
“It’s a dream for me to come back and lead this program,” Zeiler said. “I’m just so proud of these kids. This is something they’ll share forever. That was something special.”
Finnerty Delivers TJ’s First PIAA Individual Wrestling Title
Senior Brian Finnerty scored three points in the final minute to post a comeback 6-5 victory over Belle Vernon’s Cole Weightman and deliver TJ’s first PIAA individual state wrestling championship. The top-seeded Finnerty captured Gold at 215 lbs. with the thrilling victory in the PIAA 3A Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey. A week earlier, Finnerty defeated Weightman, 1-0, to become the sixth TJ wrestler to win a WPIAL individual title, and the second in four years.
Finnerty finished the season with a spectacular 44-1 record and became the Jaguars’ all-time wrestling victories leader with 121, breaking a tie at 117 with Michael Goslicky, a member of the Class of 2003. Finnerty has signed to continue his academic and basketball career at Kent State University.
Freshman Maddox Shaw placed third at 126 lbs. to help boost TJ to 10th place out of the 115 3A schools that had at least one PIAA Wrestling competitor. The Jaguar duo scored 42 points. Shaw defeated