Alle-Kiski wrestling notebook: Burrell goes blond for PIAA tournament
By: Doug Gulasy
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 | 6:57 PM
Burrell wrestling might be going for the gold this weekend in Hershey, but the Bucs already went platinum.
As part of a yearly tradition, Burrell's wrestlers dyed their hair blond in advance of the PIAA tournament, which begins Thursday afternoon at Giant Center in Hershey.
“We just find it fun to do it, and it sort of brings everyone closer in a way,” senior Shaun Gates said.
Gates said most of the roster joined in the tradition this season, although as of early this week there were still some holdouts.
“Only two, but we are hoping we can convince them,” he said.
The schedule is set for the Alle-Kiski Valley's two combatants in the PIAA wrestling tournament. Burrell (10-5) will face Muncy in the PIAA Class AA first round at 2 p.m. Thursday, and Kiski Area (18-1) will take on Central Dauphin in the Class AAA first round at 8 p.m.
Central Dauphin (19-2), which advanced to the PIAA tournament after finishing third in District 3 and beating Boyertown in a preliminary-round match Monday, is a familiar opponent for Kiski Area. The Cavaliers defeated the Rams, 52-11, in the first round last season.
Despite that, Kiski Area coach Chris Heater said he spent several hours scouting Central Dauphin, which has four PIAA titles all-time.
“We've had to wrestle Central Dauphin quite a few times over the years of being at the state tournament,” Heater said. “They've got a great history and have won a lot of state titles as a program and still have the same head coach and a good group of guys.”
Muncy (21-3), the District 4 runner-up, advanced to the PIAA tournament for the first time since 2011 after beating Brockway in a preliminary-round match. That was the Indians' first PIAA win.
Burrell and Muncy never have met at the state tournament, but District 4 runner-up Line Mountain edged Burrell by two points in the 2017 first round.
Turn of the century
Kiski Area won the WPIAL Class AAA team championship Saturday, and Cam Connor picked up an individual accomplishment along the way.
The junior 145-pounder secured his 100th career victory with a 2-1 decision over Waynesburg's Colby Morris during the Cavaliers' 39-26 win in the semifinals. He added No. 101 with a 5-1 decision over Canon-McMillan's Tanner Rohaley in the championship match as the Cavaliers defended their title with a 33-24 win.
“It was great getting that milestone, but I'm just trying to keep on winning now,” Connor said. “That milestone's obviously a huge number, but after that, there's like no other milestones.”
Connor and Morris were scoreless going into the third period of their bout. Connor, who started the third on bottom, got a reversal to take the lead and held off Morris after his escape cut it to 2-1 in the final minute.
“It was a tough match,” Connor said. “He was a little bit funky. I wasn't getting to my offense real well. He was real tough.”
After a two-year stint in WPIAL Class AAA wrestling, Highlands will be in a different location next season.
The Golden Rams will drop to Class AA as part of the section realignment done every two years when the PIAA updates enrollment figures.
Highlands competed the past two seasons in Section 3-AAA (A) with Butler, Knoch, Mars, Pine-Richland and Seneca Valley. The drop could reunite the Golden Rams with local rivals Burrell, Riverview and Valley, although section alignments are not yet announced.
Coach Grant Walters expects the move will result in a “way more competitive” environment for his team, which had a roster full of underclassmen this season.
“The comparison is going to be a complete 180,” he said. “From wrestling teams that have 40 kids to wrestling teams that are more like Highlands is going to be very good for us.”
Major changes are coming to the section alignment for the next two wrestling seasons, starting in 2018-19.
According to Canon-McMillan athletic director Frank Vulcano Jr., who serves as chairman of the WPIAL wrestling committee, the new sections have been formed and are awaiting approval from the WPIAL board of directors. That should occur at the monthly meeting Feb. 19.
Vulcano said competitive balance and geography were major factors in determining new sections. Most of the changes were in Class AA.
Big changes should be on the way to Section 3-AA, which Burrell, Riverview and Valley call home. Two teams from their sub-section, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic and Jeannette, no longer have teams. South Fayette, a member of the other sub-section, is moving to Class AAA.
“I think people will like the changes,” Vulcano said. “Some may not, but that's expected.”
Vulcano said the addition of Hopewell and Blackhawk — two Beaver County programs — forced the committee to alter sections in Class AA.
“Geography did determine some of the sections, that's for sure,” Vulcano said. “There wasn't much change in Class AAA, a couple of minor things.”
There still will be four sections in Class AAA and three in Class AA. Every section will be divided into sub-sections.