A-K Valley wrestling notebook: Burrell’s Oswalt, Kiski Area’s Connor have targets on their backs
By: Doug Gulasy
Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | 5:00 PM
Burrell’s Ian Oswalt and Kiski Area’s Cam Connor didn’t have to look far to find their names in their respective brackets for the PIAA wrestling championships: They were right there, smack-dab at the top.
Oswalt, a sophomore, was seeded first at 120 pounds for the PIAA Class AA tournament. Connor, a senior, was slotted first at 152 pounds for the Class AAA tournament.
“I guess there’s kind of a target on my back, but you’ve just got to go out there and wrestle that first match,” Connor said. “The first match is always pretty tough because you’re traveling out there and staying in a hotel and everything. You’ve just got to go out there and get the nerves out of you.”
Both Oswalt and Connor know the feelings of being the No. 1 guy: Connor held that spot for the WPIAL Class AAA championships and won his second straight title, while Oswalt had it for the WPIAL Class AA and PIAA Southwest Regional tournaments, claiming the championship at both.
Oswalt finished fourth at 113 pounds at last season’s state tournament, while Connor placed seventh at 145.
“Obviously, any kid can beat you at states,” Oswalt said. “The seeds don’t really matter. Of course, it gives me confidence and stuff, but you still should go out there. I don’t care if a kid’s the worst seed or the worst kid in the bracket. I’m still going to go out there and wrestle my match.”
Kiski Area’s Jack Blumer was seeded second at 160 pounds.
Kiski-Valley tag team
Noah Hutcherson found some perfect training partners for the PIAA Class AA championships just a few miles away.
The Valley senior practiced this week at Kiski Area, where he could work out with some of the Cavaliers’ middleweights who qualified for the Class AAA tournament in Hershey: fellow 170-pounder Nick Delp, plus 160-pounder Blumer and 152-pounder Connor.
“It’s been helping me out a lot,” Hutcherson said. “I have a lot more guys wrestling my weight. I’ve just been able to get in a lot more situations that I haven’t been in during this season. I’ve just been getting ready, really.”
Valley coach Dane Johnson accompanied Hutcherson, and the three-time PIAA champion got in some mat time himself against Darren Miller and Blumer.
A number of potential rematches loom for Alle-Kiski Valley wrestlers at the PIAA tournament, but Connor could face one as soon as his first match. Should Waynesburg’s Luca Augustine win a preliminary-round bout, he and Connor would see each other for the second time in less than a week.
Connor and Augustine wrestled in the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals, with Connor edging Augustine, 3-2.
“I’m looking forward to wrestling him because he’s a really good wrestler,” Connor said. “We were working on some things that I didn’t do too well in that match. I’m looking forward to hopefully just wrestling to better ability and getting my attacks better.”
Other potential rematches could come later in the bracket for the likes of Miller and Oswalt. A fourth match between Miller and Franklin Regional’s Colton Camacho — Miller won the first two, but Camacho claimed the third in the 132-pound final of the WPIAL championships — could happen in the PIAA finals if both wrestlers make it that far.
Oswalt, meanwhile, could see Reynolds’ Beau Bayless, the second seed at 120 pounds, in the finals. Bayless beat Oswalt twice in last season’s PIAA tournament.
Burrell senior Austin Mele needed to refresh the bracket for his first match at the PIAA Class AA championships.
Because of some discrepancies in the original 132- and 160-pound brackets for the Class AA tournament, the PIAA reseeded and re-released those weight classes late Sunday afternoon. Mele’s position in the bracket, plus his first-round opponent, changed.
In the original brackets, if Mele won his preliminary-round bout, he faced a first-round rematch with Frazier’s Thayne Lawrence, a defending PIAA champion who beat Mele in the Section 3-AA finals and at the PIAA Southwest Regionals while Mele was dealing with an ankle injury. Now Mele and Lawrence are at opposite ends of the bracket.
“I’m maybe in a little better spot and maybe can advance farther with a little less of a struggle,” Mele said. “It’s nice.”
Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, [email protected] or via Twitter .