Burrell takes 3rd at PIAA team tournament for first time since 2014

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Saturday, March 27, 2021 | 6:38 PM


Since his seniors were younger, Burrell wrestling coach Josh Shields knew he would have a special team when 2021 came around.

Adding a talented freshman in Cooper Hornack and a few other pieces who fit the Burrell mold provided a big boost, too.

On Saturday afternoon at Cumberland Valley High School, the Bucs capped their season with a 26-13 victory over District 3 champion Boiling Springs to place third in the PIAA Class AA team tournament.

“It was an awesome third-place finish for the team, and we’ve been close a lot of times before, so to finally get over that hurdle and come away with a state medal is an outstanding accomplishment,” Shields said. “This senior class is one of the best senior classes to come through the program, maybe ever. They’ve accomplished everything.”

District 10 champion Reynolds won its fourth straight PIAA title with a 31-22 victory over Southern Columbia in the finals.

During Shields’ first year as coach, the Bucs made a run through the state tournament and finished third. They were the top seed that season, but they lost their first match of the 2014 tournament.

They worked their way back through the tournament and defeated Boiling Springs to place third that season, too.

In their first match Saturday against Reynolds, the Bucs gave up forfeits in the 285- and the 113-pound weight classes, but they also won the first three bouts of the match to take an early 11-0 lead on the three-time defending state champions.

Nick Salerno (132) picked up a decision to start the match and then Aaron Edwards (138) and Ian Oswalt (145) earned major decisions. But the Raiders responded as Kaeden Berger (152) recorded a technical fall, and Jalen Wagner (160) picked up a pin to tie the match 11-11.

AJ Corrado (172) stopped the bleeding with a major decision, and Cole Clark (215) won by decision, but the Raiders picked up bonus points in four of the final six matches to earn the 35-30 win.

“Obviously it doesn’t help giving up two forfeits, but technically we don’t even have a 215-pounder,” Oswalt said. “There was just a lot of confidence in the team because everyone has to do their thing when you’re giving up 12 points automatically. Five points, it wasn’t a win, but we definitely pushed it and gave it our all.”

In Burrell’s third-place match against Boiling Springs, Oswalt, Corrado, Clark, Edwards, Damian Barr (160) and Shawn Szymanski picked up decisions. Cooper Hornack (106) and Nick Salerno (132) earned major decisions.

Hornack was the only Buc to win by pin Saturday when he took down Reynolds’ Logan Hammerschmidt in 45 seconds.

During the past two seasons, the Bucs lost to Chestnut Ridge in the quarterfinals and ended up just short of their ultimate goal to finish in the top four teams in the state.

At the end of last season, Corrado and Oswalt sent a text message to Shields to let him know they wouldn’t let it happen again.

“They both said, ‘I promise, coach, next year we will get that medal. I guarantee it. We won’t let you down. We won’t let this team down,’ ” Shields said. “They absolutely (followed through) this season.”

Over the past four years, Oswalt has finished his seasons at the individual state tournament, but given the circumstances this year, he got to end it alongside his teammates at the team tournament.

He wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The individuals obviously is the last thing we do,” Oswalt said. “But this is honestly way better than any individual tournament. Seeing my team come away with a third-place medal, I couldn’t be any more happy. That’s been the goal forever. It’s been seven years since a team has done it from Burrell. So I’m just happy and proud of the team.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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