A-K Valley wrestling notebook: Burrell wrestlers get season started off on right foot

Tuesday, January 12, 2021 | 6:25 PM

The Burrell wrestling team got its season started off on the right foot this weekend when it traveled to the North Allegheny Wright Automotive Invitational. Out of 13 weight classes, the Bucs had two first-place finishers, one second, two thirds and three fourths.

Each weight class had between seven and 10 wrestlers.

Senior AJ Corrado got his final high school season started off with a first-place finish at 160 pounds, which is a class above where he competed in last season when he won a WPIAL title and made a run to the PIAA championship.

This season, Corrado has PIAA gold in his sights, and Saturday was just the beginning of getting back to Hershey. He was one of nine No. 1 seeds to take home their individual bracket, and he did so in convincing fashion. He pinned Thomas Jefferson’s Terry Newbegin in 1 minute, 24 seconds, before doing the same to Southmoreland’s Josh Thoma in 3:15.

Corrado’s championship match was a battle as North Allegheny’s Collin McCorkle took the defending WPIAL champion to overtime. Corrado earned an escape in the second tiebreaker period to earn the victory.

Freshman Cooper Hornack, who coach Josh Shields said could be an impact wrestler for the Bucs this year, impressed in his first varsity tournament, bringing home the 113-pound title.

Working his way through the bracket from the No. 4 seed, Hornack pinned Fort LeBoeuf’s Jacob Bennett in 57 seconds, earned a 5-0 decision over No. 1 seed Justin O’Neill from Hickory, then pinned Thomas Jefferson’s Gabe Galioto in 2:40 to secure his weight class.

The Bucs are known for developing star wrestlers through their program, and after the performance Hornack produced Saturday, they may have found their next one.

Nick Salerno (132) was the next top performer for the Bucs, he earned a runner-up finish after losing to Hempfield’s Briar Priest via pin in the bracket championship. Sophomore Nicholas Ferra (120) and junior Cole Clark (189) also placed third.

Moving around

Highlands and Knoch will find themselves in new territory this season. After the Golden Rams produced one of the their most successful seasons in recent memory by qualifying for the team tournament, they’ll get bumped up to WPIAL Class AAA this season in realignment.

As for the Knights of Knoch and their new coach Bob Waldron, they’ll bump down to Class AA.

The Knights will compete in Section 3A alongside Burrell, Riverview, Valley, South Allegheny and Summit. Highlands will compete in Section 1 against Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Indiana and Kiski Area.

The Golden Rams return key starters such as Jrake Burford, Jeremiah Nelson and Brock White. They lost their first match of the year to North Hills, 48-24, on Saturday. Burford and White both came away from the match with pins to earn their first victory of the season.

A blessing in disguise

Before Gov. Tom Wolf put a three-week pause on high school athletics, Kiski Area wrestling coach Chris Heater said a few of his wrestlers had decided not to come out for the team this season due to everything going on.

But, as the end of the pause approached and the Cavaliers were approved to move forward with winter sports, Heater shot out a few texts to a couple of his former wrestlers, and a few guys decided to get back in the room for the restart last week.

The pause was almost like a blessing in disguise for the Cavaliers, as Heater said they came back into the room healthy and with a lot more energy.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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