Burrell wrestler Corey Christie named MVP of WCCA tournament; Kiski Area takes team title

Sunday, January 7, 2018 | 9:41 AM

Burrell's Corey Christie believed he could escape from Ty Griffiths' grip in the ultimate tiebreaker period of their 152-pound championship bout at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association wrestling tournament.

This, even after Griffiths held Christie down just over a minute before.

Given a second chance, Christie came through, forcing his way to his feet for the escape that gave him a 2-1 victory and a title in his final appearance at the county championships Saturday at Norwin.

“You always want to dominate every match, pin everybody, tech everybody. But sometimes the ones that go into ultimate ride out, those are the ones that feel really good,” said Christie, a Coker recruit. “I knew I could (escape). It's hard to say I knew because he rode me out (earlier), but I knew (I could) if I kept to my criteria.”

Christie and Griffiths traded escapes in regulation. Neither got a takedown in sudden-death overtime, and neither escaped in the first two tiebreaker periods. But that didn't shake Christie's confidence.

Earlier Saturday, Christie knocked off top-seeded Brock Godzin of Belle Vernon in the semifinals to advance to the championship bout for the first time. The Burrell senior was named the tournament's most valuable wrestler.

“I feel pretty good,” Christie said. “Not satisfied. I still have a lot to work on. But it feels good to come out on top.”

There was no shortage of exciting finishes as five Alle-Kiski wrestlers won championships at the 65th annual tournament. Kiski Area seniors Noah Levett and Danny Starr and junior Darren Miller ascended to the top of the medal stand as the Cavaliers claimed their third consecutive county team title, and Valley junior David Schuffert also claimed a title.

Miller, who won a second county championship, navigated his own nailbiter match against Latrobe's Gabe Willochell.

He ended up on his back after a third-period takedown but recovered to get a reversal and hold off Willochell's late escape and takedown attempts to win 10-9 in the 120-pound final.

The top seed, Miller led 7-0 early before Willochell rallied. The takedown tied the score at 8-8, but Miller's reversal made the difference.

“It was a crazy match,” Miller said. “I felt like I was in control until I got thrown, and that changed the match. But I had to keep fighting and win in the end. I had to fight for the life of me to get off and win that match.”

A third-period escape made the difference for Starr, who defended his county title by beating Greensburg Salem's John Meyers, 4-3, in the 195-pound final.

“(I was) mostly just trying to stay focused, trying to score points and not give up any,” Starr said. “I felt confident I could get out (in the third period).”

Levett faced a lot less drama than Miller, as three takedowns and four back points helped him ease to an 11-1 victory over Hempfield's Ty Linsenbigler. But it still represented a Hollywood ending for the senior Bucknell recruit, previously a three-time runner-up.

“I would love to have four first-place finishes, but I had three good competitors each year,” Levett said. “I guess it's the past. My other past years, I always tried to slow it down and let them wrestle their match. This year I just wrestled my match.”

Schuffert overcame a first-period takedown, turned it into a reversal and pinned Hempfield's Isaiah Vance in 53 seconds for his first county title. Schuffert was the only champion to win by pin.

“It means a lot,” Schuffert said. “I was looking forward to this tournament at the beginning of the year and last year. It just finally came true.”

Kiski Area rolled to the team title, adding three runners-up — Cam Connor (145 pounds), Nick Delp (160), and Logan Pollick (182) — and finishing with 12 medalists. The Cavaliers finished with 218.5 team points to outdistance second-place Hempfield (197.5).

“It's great because it's the third year in a row that we've won this,” Levett said.

Burrell freshman Ian Oswalt finished second at 113 pounds, helping the Bucs to a fourth-place team finish with eight medalists.

Valley finished with two medalists, as Noah Hutcherson added a third-place finish at 170.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at dugulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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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