Beth-Center takes down Derry in WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019 | 10:21 PM


A vocal crowd at Beth-Center High School erupted in jubilation Wednesday night as their hometown Bulldogs engineered a 42-30 victory over Derry in the WPIAL Class AA team wrestling quarterfinals.

Beth-Center’s Trevor Pettit and Todd Fisher posted back-to-back pins to clinch the match, ending Derry’s run of three consecutive trips to the semifinals.

“There were a couple of situations there where I was nervous,” Beth-Center coach Gary Welsh said. “You never know what’s going to happen in a certain situation. Fortunately, we were able to get a couple of wins when it counted. These teams match up pretty well.”

No. 4 Beth-Center, which was clinging to a 30-24 lead with three matches remaining before Pettit pinned Nicholas Reeping at 138 pounds and Fisher pinned Garret Lenhart in just 46 seconds at 145, advances to face No. 1 Burrell in the semifinals at noon Saturday at Chartiers-Houston.

“Honestly, we had our chance,” Derry coach Mike Weinell said. “We just made too many mistakes.”

In earlier first-round matches, Derry trounced South Park, 54-24, and Beth-Center walloped Southmoreland, 51-16, to advance to the quarterfinals.

No. 5 Derry benefited from four forfeit victories against South Park and received pins from Xavier Merlin (120), Jason Baker (138), Lenhart (145), Trey Weinell (152), Eric Catone (160) and Dominic DeLuca, who stopped Chris Danzuso in 6 seconds at 220.

Beth-Center took charge in the quarterfinals match from the start, then held on down the stretch.

“We beat a good team tonight,” Welsh said. “There were 3 or 4 tossup matches, and those are huge point swings. That’s a solid team over there that has wrestled a very tough schedule. We’ve had our eye on them all year long, watching their kids to see what they’re doing.”

Beth-Center took an early 8-0 lead on Jacob Housel’s technical fall over Catone at 160 and Dylan Dingle’s 8-1 decision over Dakota Beeman at 170.

Derry made a dent in the deficit with Braden Mickinac’s 5-0 decison over JJ Berish.

Dominic Fundy’s 19-second pin of David Smith increased Beth-Center’s lead to 14-3, then DeLuca needed just 1:04 to pin Evan Dreucci and pull Derry within 14-9.

Jacob Baker’s pin of Noah Cymmerman at 285 kept Beth-Center in a seemingly comfortable spot, leading 20-9.

Derry’s Kace Sabredra decisioned Joey Holmes, 5-0, at 106 before Beth-Center strung together a pair of victories — Kyle McCollum’s 10-2 major decision of Colton McCallen at 113 and Jimmy Gwyer’s pin of Merlin in 3:18 at 120 — to surge ahead, 30-12.

Derry’s final push came when Tyler Cymmerman pinned Richard LaRosa in 55 seconds at 126 and Jason Baker was awarded a forfeit win at 132 to pull within 30-24, setting the stage for the finale.

“Beth-Center has more seniors and a little more experience,” Mike Weinell said. “But we should have experience on the big mat. We’ve been there. I feel bad for our seniors because this would have been four years in a row for them down at the finals and semifinals.”

Derry started the year with just nine wrestlers after four starters chose not to return from last year’s team, which finished second to top-ranked Burrell in the team tournament.

“I know we’re not the team we had last year,” Weinell said, “but I still think we had a shot at moving on. I’m proud of these guys. We ended with 20 wrestlers. Nobody gave us a chance at the beginning of the year.”

Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.

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