A-K Valley wrestlers earn medals at prestigious Powerade tournament

Saturday, December 30, 2017 | 11:20 PM

Burrell and Kiski Area didn't return from the prestigious Powerade Christmas Wrestling Tournament with any team titles or individual champions, but Bucs coach Josh Shields and Cavaliers coach Chris Heater walked away pleased.

Burrell had two wrestlers — sophomore Trent Valovchik at 106 pounds and freshman Ian Oswalt at 113 — earn medals, and Kiski Area had three wrestlers — junior Darren Miller at 120, senior Noah Levett at 138 and sophomore Nick Delp at 160 — collect medals at what is widely regarded as the second-toughest high school wrestling tournament in the country.

“We had a tough Session 2 on Friday, but we bounced back well,” Shields said. “That's what happens at tournaments like this. It exposes your weaknesses and shows you what you have to work on. It was good for us.”

Oswalt placed fourth, falling to Shaler junior Ryan Sullivan, 8-3. Sullivan defeated Oswalt, 15-4, in the quarterfinals.

“We made it a lot closer, so that's a good sign,” Shields said.

Valovchik placed eighth in a loaded weight class that featured four wrestlers from Westmoreland County placing in the top eight. He lost to Latrobe senior Brady Sherback, 4-3.

“We could possibly meet next week,” Valovchik said. “The county tournament is always tough, and 106 is loaded.”

Norwin sophomore Kurtis Phipps, Sherback, Hempfield junior Kyle Burkholder, Franklin Regional freshman Carter Dibert, Penn-Trafford freshman Luke Paszek, Kiski Area junior Julian Jones and Derry junior Kace Sabedra were among the 106 wrestlers from the county to compete at Powerade.

“I'm looking forward to counties,” Valovchik said.

Miller placed fourth at 120 after losing to Wyoming Seminary sophomore Zeke Escalera, 4-2. Miller lost to Seneca Valley senior Louis Newell, 5-2, in the semifinals and then blanked Latrobe sophomore Gabe Willochell, 3-0, to reach the third-place match.

Levett lost to Waynesburg senior Jackson Henson, a West Virginia recruit, 7-2, in the third-place match. He dropped a 5-1 decision to Reynolds senior Cole Matthews in the semifinals then topped Parkersburg South (W.Va.) senior Luke Martin, 10-4, to reach the third-place match.

“We lost a couple close matches in the blood round (one win from placing),” Heater said. “This tournament is very difficult, a lot of high-level and intense matches. It prepares you for the rest of the season.

“The talent here was outstanding. I feel it could easily challenge Ironman for No. 1.”

Delp ended up finishing eighth, getting pinned by Battlefield (Va.) senior Ron Miller in the seventh-place match. He lost to Parkersburg South junior Zane Hinzman, 5-2, in the consolation round quarterfinals.

Heater said the team is rounding into shape, and he hopes senior heavyweight Isaac Reid returns to the lineup after he and his parents received news that a troublesome blood clot is gone.

“Now it's up to his doctors and parents on when he can return,” Heater said.

Kiski finished 10th, and Burrell was 25th in the 52-team tournament.

In the big upset of the day, Wyoming Seminary sophomore Beau Bartlett used two takedowns — the winning one with 26 seconds left — to hand Jefferson-Morgan senior Gavin Teasdale his first high school defeat.

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

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