Burrell, Valley wrestlers end season on high note

Saturday, March 9, 2019 | 11:18 PM

HERSHEY — When their Friday night didn’t go as planned, Burrell sophomores A.J. Corrado and Ian Oswalt and Valley senior Noah Hutcherson awoke Saturday with one goal: win their final wrestling match of the season.

Their Saturday afternoon proved much more effective, then, as Corrado, Oswalt and Hutcherson secured fifth-place medals on the final day of the PIAA Class AA tournament at Giant Center. Burrell senior Austin Mele lost his final match but still finished with an eighth-place finish at 160 pounds.

“It’s always important to win your last match,” Corrado said. “The coaches always tell us fifth is a lot better than sixth and seventh is a lot better than eighth. You always want to win.”

Oswalt and Hutcherson went into Friday night with a chance to come home from Hershey with a gold medal after getting into the semifinals. That dream dissipated after both lost. An opportunity to finish third or fourth for those two, plus Corrado, was lost in the semifinals.

They had one final opportunity to win, and they did just that.

Oswalt, who lost in the 120-pound semifinals in overtime and dropped a one-point match in the consolation semifinals, bounced back from those physical matches with a 4-2 victory over Boiling Springs’ Caydin Wickard in a nip-and-tuck battle for fifth.

“I wanted to end up in third place, and I didn’t do that,” said Oswalt, who placed fourth in the state as a freshman. “After finishing fourth last year, I took a step back physically. That didn’t really make me too happy. But I know if I would have lost this … I would have been mad. I wrestled as hard as I could.”

Hutcherson lost in the 170-pound semifinals to top-seeded Jared McGill of Chestnut Ridge and then lost a one-point decision in his consolation semifinals. In the fifth-place match, he beat Kutztown’s Tyler Fisher, 5-3.

The match was especially big for Hutcherson, who was making his first appearance at the state tournament and was wrestling for the final time in high school.

“I just really wanted to finish strong,” Hutcherson said. “I feel like I did all right. I could have opened up the gap more, but other than that I feel like I did all right.”

Corrado finished seventh as a freshman but moved up on the podium this season after a 1-0 decision over Bishop McDevitt’s Tyler Martin in the fifth-place match at 138.

“I moved up from last year,” Corrado said. “I’m hoping to move up every year, hopefully get two state championships. You never know.”

Mele, a Seton Hill recruit, felt disappointed with his final high school bout, a major-decision loss to Southern Columbia’s Cade Linn in the seventh-place match.

“I’m not satisfied,” Mele said. “I had goals to place, but I don’t want to end my season with a loss or finish in seventh or eighth place like I did.”

Corrado and Oswalt will return as two-time PIAA medalists next season, and they hope to end 2020 in Hershey with another win: in a championship bout.

“I think those losses will put something in my head like I need to do some things different,” Oswalt said. “… I think it’s really what’s going to take me to the next level.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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