A-K Valley wrestling notebook: Burrell gets look at state’s top competition

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Although Wednesday represents the official start of the team wrestling postseason with WPIAL sectional tournaments, Burrell already began its stretch run last weekend at Brookville's “Ultimate Duals.”

The six-team tournament gave the Bucs a glimpse of some of the top competition in both the WPIAL and PIAA, as the field included WPIAL Class AA contenders Freedom and South Fayette, defending PIAA champion Reynolds and state contenders Brookville and Chestnut Ridge.

“The Ultimate Duals is the perfect time of year against perfect competition,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “That is, to me, exactly what the PIAA team duals are, without the circumstances of ‘you lose, you're done.' We get to go there and test ourselves against the best guys in the state and evaluate our performance at the end of the match. The good thing is, win or lose, you've still got the next day and you've still got a chance to accomplish your goal.”

Burrell finished with wins over Freedom (41-22) and South Fayette (57-15) and losses to Brookville (39-23), Chestnut Ridge (37-21) and Reynolds (48-13).

Shields took a positive outlook of the day, pointing two a number of close bouts in the Brookville and Chestnut Ridge matches that didn't fall in the Bucs' favor.

“A lot of those matches that we lost, I personally believe we could have won,” senior Shaun Gates said. “We call them swing matches. If we turn those around, that's beating the top teams in the state. That's definitely something we need to work on.”

Two in, one out

Burrell is getting healthier at the right time, as 220-pounder Mason Slahtovsky returned from injury last week and Shields expects Ethan Awes to rejoin the lineup soon as well. Slahtovsky was hurt at the season-opening King of the Mountain tournament, and Awes at the Powerade Christmas Tournament.

The Bucs are missing senior 120-pounder Trent Bechtold, who didn't wrestle at the Ultimate Duals. Shields said Bechtold is currently out for personal reasons, but he hopes to get him back.

Just short

Riverview hoped to qualify for the WPIAL team postseason, but the Raiders finished one victory shy after a loss to Summit Academy in the section finale.

The Raiders had defeated Summit at the Valley Duals earlier this month, but four forfeits cost them last week.

Summit advanced to the section's fifth-place match Wednesday against Keystone Oaks, with the winner advancing to the WPIAL team playoffs.

Showing their medals

Fox Chapel, Plum and Riverview all had productive trips to the Allegheny County tournament. Tournament host Fox Chapel and Plum both finished with three medalists, while Riverview had a pair.

Fox Chapel sophomore 220-pounder Donovan Cutchember grabbed silver, while the Foxes also got fourth-place medalist Zach Carcy (182 pounds) and eighth-place Alex Wecht (145). Plum's Cole Yocca (108) and Tallon Auth (132) earned seventh-place medals, with Gavin James (126) in eighth. For Riverview, Christian Tamburro (160) took fifth and Zayn Peters (170) placed eighth.

400 club

Another WPIAL wrestling coach reached 400 wins when McGuffey's Mark Caffrey hit the mark against Beth-Center.

Caffrey joined a club that includes a pair of Alle-Kiski Valley coaches in Fox Chapel's Ron Frank and Chuck Tursky. Tursky, who led Burrell and Kiski Area to 504 victories and now is Kiski Area coach Chris Heater's top assistant, is the WPIAL all-time wins leader.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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