Kiski Area in position to claim 3rd straight WCCA wrestling title

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Saturday, January 6, 2018 | 12:01 AM


Kiski Area put itself in position to capture its 11th Westmoreland County Coaches Association wrestling tournament title and third in a row with a solid performance Friday at the 65th annual event.

The Cavaliers advanced nine of 14 wrestlers to the 11 a.m. semifinals Saturday at Norwin.

They hold a 92.5 to 72.5 lead over second-place Hempfield. Burrell, which has five wrestlers in the semifinals, is in fourth place with 53 points.

Every year, it seems Kiski Area has a surprise winner. Last year, Danny Starr won the 195-pound title.

So who will be this year's surprise?

“That's to be determined,” Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said. “We expect all of our wrestlers to do well.”

This year's candidates could be junior Collin Murray at 170 pounds or senior Logan Pollick at 182. He placed fifth at 160 last year.

Starr and Darren Miller (120) will be going after their second titles, while Noah Levett (138), Cam Connor (145), Jack Blumer (152), Nick Delp (160) and Troy Kuhn (220) their first.

“This tournament is good for us,” Heater said. “It gets us ready for the rest of the season.”

Kiski Area fell to No. 2 in the Tribune-Review rankings in Class AAA this week after losing to new No. 1 Canon-McMillan. The Cavs were missing three starting wrestlers, including heavyweight Isaac Reid.

But Heater made no excuses about the loss. He knows it could be a different result with a healthy lineup.

Kiski Area was a pinning machine in the opening two rounds, recording 12 pins and a technical fall. Delp and Starr each had two pins, both of Starr's coming in less than 42 seconds.

Levett, who has never won the WCCA tournament, had a technical fall win and a pin.

Burrell is starting to get some of its wrestlers back from injury, though an ankle injury delayed Mason Slahtovsky's return.

Trent Bechtold (120), who had weight issues that kept him out of the lineup in December, and Trent Valovchik (106), both PIAA qualifiers, were among the five Bucs to advance to the semifinals.

Valovchik will get a rematch against Latrobe's Brady Sherback in the semifinals. Sherback edged Valovchik, 4-3, for seventh place at the Powerade tournament last week.

“We were hoping for this rematch,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said.

Bechtold picked up a pin in the opening round and won a major decision, 10-0, against Franklin Regional's Mario Sarnic.

The other Bucs to advance were freshman Ian Oswalt at 113, freshman A.J. Corrado at 132 and senior Corey Christie at 152.

Bryan Gaul, a PIAA qualifier in 2017 and fifth-place finisher at the WCCA tournament a year ago, was upset by Norwin freshman John Alteri, 7-5, at 126.

Alteri raced to a 7-0 lead but made a mistake that almost cost him. Gaul used a five-point move (reversal and three-point nearfall) to get back into the match.

“He almost pinned me,” Alteri said. “I was trying to hang on and lost my grip.”

Gaul, however, could not score in the final two minutes and fell to the consolation round.

Valley had one wrestler, junior heavyweight Dave Schuffert, advance to the semifinals. All Schuffert had to do was show up Friday and weigh in. There were only seven heavyweights entered in the tournament, and the top-seeded Schuffert received a bye into the semifinals.

The third- and fifth-place matches are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by the Parade of Champions at 6 and the finals at 6:30.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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