A-K Valley wrestling notebook: Burrell freshmen making impact
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 | 11:40 PM
If there's such a thing as a rookie wall in high school wrestling, Burrell's freshmen don't appear to have received the memo.
The Bucs' three ninth-grade starters — A.J. Corrado, Colby Christie and Ian Oswalt — continue to thrive for the Bucs (7-5), who open the WPIAL Class AA playoffs Wednesday night.
First Corrado upset Quaker Valley's John Rocco Kazalas — the top-ranked Class AA 132-pounder in the state by PA Power Wrestling — in the Section 3 semifinals last week, capitalizing on an early takedown and a late escape to prevail 5-4. Then Corrado, Christie and Oswalt picked up victories to help the Bucs rally from an early 15-0 hole to beat South Fayette in the section championship match.
Oswalt capped the freshmen's strong week by winning the 113-pound championship at the Thomas Chevrolet tournament Saturday in Bedford.
“It felt good, and it's going to give me more motivation, more momentum toward the season and more confidence to go through for postseason individually and for our team,” said Oswalt, who previously picked up medals at the King of the Mountain, Powerade and Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournaments. “(The past tournaments) help me because I get to work on whatever I did wrong in those past tournaments. I can learn and improve from past mistakes.”
Corrado added a third-place medal at the Thomas tournament. After his win over Kazalas, Corrado bumped up to 138 pounds against South Fayette and scored a decision victory over Eli Brinsky.
“(The Kazalas win) gives me a lot of confidence,” Corrado said. “If he's No. 1 in the state, I'm up there with all those kids.”
Christie took just 46 seconds to pin Sam Orecchio in the 113-pound bout during the South Fayette match, cutting Burrell's deficit to 15-12 at the time. Oswalt followed with a major decision that put the Bucs up for good on their way to their 15th consecutive section title. Christie's older brother, Corey, added a pin of his own in the 152-pound match.
Burrell's wrestlers have worn shirts this season with an interesting message: that a 12th straight WPIAL title would make it a “Goon Day.”
The shirts, and the idea behind them, came from junior Bryan Gaul's father.
“He started making shirts in the sixth or seventh grade about goon,” Gaul said. “I don't know what he meant when he said goon. I guess he's a goon. He's always screaming crazy stuff (in the stands), but he just likes the goon theme. And I'm cool with it. We all like the goon thing.”
After 11 consecutive WPIAL championships, Burrell is playing the goon role — the enforcer — to the rest of Class AA. The Bucs will host Burgettstown or Mt. Pleasant in the WPIAL quarterfinals at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Jeniah Allen's bout at the conclusion of the Section 3-AA consolation match was deemed an exhibition, so ultimately it didn't factor into Valley's 39-35 victory over Quaker Valley.
But for the Vikings sophomore, it carried plenty of meaning.
Allen turned a first-period cradle into a pin, the first of her Valley wrestling career.
“It was fun,” she said. “I'm happy I won. It feels good.”
Allen joined the Valley wrestling team as a freshman with no prior wrestling experience. One of her uncles was a wrestler, but her experiences as a spectator led her to come out for the team.
“I just watched it, and I figured I'd (do it),” she said. “It's fun. I think I'm getting pretty good.”
Valley coach Dane Johnson said he was “extremely happy” to see Allen get her first pin, which was punctuated with a standing ovation from her teammates.
“She comes in and works just as hard as anybody,” Johnson said. “She's there every day. She never misses. She's an extremely hard worker. It's tough going up against boys, but to see her hard work pay off and finally get a win was pretty emotional.”
The pin came as a surprise but not a shock to Allen.
“I imagined getting one (at some point),” Allen said, exhaling. “It's just … I didn't imagine it today.”
Johnson came away “pretty upset” with Valley's loss to South Fayette in the Section 3-AA semifinals, but he liked the Vikings' result in their next match more.
Valley responded to its defeat against South Fayette by rebounding to beat Quaker Valley, 39-35, in the consolation match, with junior Noah Hutcherson's late decision at 170 pounds sealing the victory.
“I don't know if we could have won (against South Fayette), but I thought a lot of guys could have wrestled better,” Johnson said. “I told them they needed to turn around against Quaker Valley; everyone needed to wake up and start wrestling. It was a little better there. I can't complain about third place.”
The Vikings open the WPIAL Class AA playoffs with a first-round match against Elizabeth Forward at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Derry.
A good bye
Finally healthy after dealing with a season of injuries and illnesses, Kiski Area spent the last weekend before the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs getting some needed rest and relaxation instead of competing in a dual or tournament.
The Cavaliers, the defending Class AAA champion, secured their third consecutive Section 1 title with a hard-fought win over Hempfield.
No. 2 Kiski Area will host Thomas Jefferson at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the first round, with the winner advancing to a 7:15 quarterfinal against either Greensburg Salem or North Allegheny.
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
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