Burgettstown wrestlers get vengeance, win WPIAL team title

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Saturday, February 4, 2023 | 6:06 PM


Burrell had gotten the better of Burgettstown four times in the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs over the past decade.

That included wins in the 2020 and 2021 championship matches.

But Saturday at Chartiers-Houston, Burgettstown turned the tables and captured its first WPIAL Class 2A team-tournament title 31-24.

“That was a title that was well earned,” Blue Devils coach Joey Vigliotti said. “They knew that they had worked hard, and (the title) was there for the taking. There was nothing too big for that team. No stage was too big. A number of them had been in that position before. That team, most of them grew up together in the sport. They just did a great job. I am so proud of them.”

The closely contested match between the Bucs and Blue Devils wasn’t decided until the second-to-last bout. Junior Rudy Brown, No. 3 in this week’s WPIAL Class 2A rankings at 152, moved up to 160 and scored a 5-4 decision over Burrell junior Nico Zanella to clinch the win.

“This feels great,” Brown said. “I was able to do what I needed to do in that third period to get the win. I expected it to be a really close match. I bumped up a weight class, and (Zanella) is a really good wrestler. I knew I could win. I just had to get it done.

“This win means everything for this team after coming up short the past several years. It really boosts our confidence and lets us know that we can beat anyone if we really work hard for it.”

Burgettstown was denied a trip to the WPIAL finals last year after falling to Quaker Valley, 36-35.

Burrell was deducted a team point after 160 for unsportsmanlike conduct, making the score an insurmountable 31-18 in Burgettstown’s advantage.

The Blue Devils forfeited the 172-pound bout to Burrell sophomore Isaac Lacinski to set the final.

Burgettstown, the No. 1 seed, improved to 15-0 on the season. The Blue Devils rolled past No. 5 Frazier, 49-24, in the semifinals.

Burrell, which defeated Quaker Valley, 42-24, in the other semifinal to avenge last year’s two-point loss to the Quakers in the title match, is 11-4.

The Bucs finished as runners-up for the second year in a row after capturing 15 straight Class 2A titles.

“That was a great match between two quality teams,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “It starts with two matches that go to overtime, and the team score is relatively low. There were a lot of good, close matches with kids going back and forth. Unfortunately for us, they won the majority of them.”

The teams split the first 10 bouts until Blue Devils junior Eric Kovach scored a 2-minute, 27-second pin over Burrell sophomore Steve Hasson at 152.

That put Burgettstown on the brink of victory.

The match started at 189 with a pair of seniors — Burgettstown’s Jacob Noyes and Burrell’s Cam Martin — going the distance and beyond.

Martin led 2-1 in the third overtime period before Noyes recorded a last-second reversal for the 3-2 win. The Burrell coaches, wrestlers and spectators questioned the validity of the reversal as they felt it came after the buzzer sounded.

“If Cam rides him to the end, he wins,” Shields said. “I thought it was a questionable call. It’s a loud environment. The refs had a hard time hearing the buzzer. I didn’t think it was a reversal.

“But it was the first match of 13, and we had 12 others after that to right that wrong, and we just came up a little bit short.”

Burgettstown also scored points with wins from junior Joseph Baronick at heavyweight (pin, 1:18), junior Parker Sentipal at 114 (9-0 major decision), junior Dylan Slovick at 127 (5-0 decision) and senior Joseph Sentipal at 139 (pin, 0:51).

Burrell senior Luke Boylan countered the Noyes overtime victory at 215 with an OT triumph of his own at heavyweight. He rallied from a 3-0 deficit to Blue Devils senior Tyler Cody and scored a 6-4 win.

The Bucs also got wins from freshman Cam Baker at 107 (pin, 20 seconds), freshman Jake Stewart at 121 (11-2 major decision), junior Cooper Hornack at 133 (5-0 decision), and senior Niko Ferra at 145 (5-0 decision).

“Our coaches and their coaches go back decades,” Vigliotti said. “I remember when we were on the mats hanging out together. There is a lot of mutual respect between the teams. Burrell does a heck of a job. That (15-year) WPIAL title streak was amazing. I’ve said for years that Burrell is Burrell. Now I can say Burgettstown is Burgettstown.”

For all four semifinalists — No. 2 Quaker Valley (16-4) defeated No. 5 Frazier, 46-27, in the third-place match — the focus turns to the PIAA playoffs.

Burgettstown will open the tournament in Hershey on Thursday with a first-round match against the champion from District 2.

“We’ll enjoy this for the night, and then I will tell the kids to get in some active recovery (Sunday), and it’s back to work Monday,” Vigliotti said.

Burrell hopes to bounce back with a first-round match Thursday against the District 9 champion.

“Now we have to regroup,” Shields said. “We don’t want one bad day to drag into the rest of the season. It’s unfortunate we came up short, but hopefully we can make some noise at states. We want the kids to use this as motivation moving forward.”

Quaker Valley returns to the PIAA playoffs and will be in preliminary-round action Monday against the District 6 runner-up.

Frazier (11-8), after its first appearance in the WPIAL team playoffs, will enter the state tournament Monday with a preliminary match against the District 10 runner-up.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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