A-K Valley wrestling notebook: Class AA wrestlers again have quick turnaround for WPIALs

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | 11:12 PM

For the second consecutive season, less than a day will separate the first two tournaments of WPIAL's Class AA individual postseason. Sectional tournaments for Class AA's three sections will take place Friday at Canon-McMillan, with the WPIAL tournament the following day, also at Canon-McMillan.

The previous format saw a weeklong break between the sectional tournaments and the WPIAL tournament. Now the break comes between the conclusion of the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional on Feb. 24 and the opening of the PIAA tournament March 8.

Burrell coach Josh Shields was critical of the change when it happened and still isn't a fan, pointing to issues with seeding between the sectional and WPIAL tournaments. He also said the possibility of wrestlers having a difficult match or suffering an injury on Friday could affect them Saturday.

“They always say the cream rises to the top, which is true, but sometimes it's a little more difficult due to seeding,” Shields said. “That shouldn't be the case. They should just let everyone wrestle it out.”

For his part, Burrell senior Corey Christie said he didn't mind the change.

“The section tournament doesn't need to be a full day or full weekend tournament,” Christie said. “It's real quick. And I like that we get the week off (before states) because everybody's banged up, everybody's beat up, so that week off before states really gets everybody back in it.”

Defending their belts

Several Alle-Kiski Valley wrestlers return to the Section 3-AA tournament Friday after winning championships last season.

The group includes five wrestlers from Burrell — Christie and fellow senior Shaun Gates, juniors Bryan Gaul and Danny McCarthy and sophomore Trent Valovchik — as well as Valley junior David Schuffert. Valovchik also is a defending WPIAL champ.

Gaul can win his third section title Friday.

“I'm just going to go out there and wrestle like I know how to wrestle, that's all,” he said.

The wrestlers' new clothes

As part of a rule passed down in April 2017 by the National Federation of State High School Associations' Wrestling Rules Committee, wrestlers could wear a two-piece uniform this season instead of the traditional singlet.

Valley took the jump, wearing the new uniform — which consists of compression shorts and a form-fitting compression shirt — a handful of times this season.

“I think it's cool,” said Valley coach Dane Johnson, adding collegiate wrestlers frequently practice in similar gear. “I guess the sport is evolving. Ten years ago I would have never thought you'd see anything like that.”

The shorts are school-issued and must have a minimum 4-inch inseam that doesn't extend below the knee. The shirt is not permitted to cover or extend below the elbow and must have a minimum 3-inch tail. It can be worn either underneath a singlet or with the shorts.

Schuffert said the two-piece uniform was more comfortable.

“It's way easier to wrestle in,” he said. “You don't get distracted by your singlet, looking down, looking up, pulling them up. It's way better.”

Corey book

As much as Corey Christie appreciated the individual accomplishment of earning his 100th career victory, he liked the story behind it more.

Christie's 6-0 decision over Brookville's Caleb Hetrick helped key Burrell's 29-27 victory in the PIAA Class AA tournament's consolation bracket Friday.

Not only did Christie avenge an earlier loss to Hetrick, but so did Burrell, which lost 39-23 to Brookville last month. Hetrick finished seventh in the state last season.

“It's kind of cool,” said Christie, a Coker College (N.C.) recruit. “Having 100, it's a lot of wins for a high school career. It's just a milestone. Beating Hetrick, he's super good. He's ranked third or fourth in the state. That just shows I can beat anybody in the state. That was a good confidence booster.”

Wrestling legend passes

The founder of the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic, Gene Bowman, died Tuesday. He was 88. Bowman was a three-time WPIAL champion who graduated from Canonsburg High School in 1947.

Paul Schofield contributed. Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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