Burrell wrestlers handle Greensburg Salem to win 20th straight section title

Wednesday, January 25, 2023 | 10:14 PM

It was a mere formality Wednesday night for No. 2 Burrell to secure its 20th consecutive WPIAL section wrestling title.

On their home mat, the Bucs took advantage of five Greensburg Salem forfeits and claimed all but two matches in a 57-6 rout of the outmanned Golden Lions to win the Section 6-2A championship and head to the Class 2A team finals with some momentum.

WPIAL pairings were to be announced Thursday morning.

“This just fuels the excitement of getting back to the team tournament and really getting after it,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “We’ve been talking about it since last year. It’s a week away. The kids are excited. You work towards the goal, and now, there is an opportunity in front of us.”

Calio Zanella, at 127 pounds, and Cooper Hornack, at 133, recorded pins for Burrell (8-3, 6-0), which will look to rebound from a disappointing loss to Quaker Valley in the 2022 WPIAL finals, ending the Bucs’ streak of 15 team titles.

“Last year is behind us, and we’re using it as motivation now,” said Burrell senior Niko Ferra, whose 16-1 technical fall against Greensburg Salem’s Keegan Young at 4 minutes, 39 seconds of the 139-pound bout got the teams’ Section 6 finale underway.

Before the match, Burrell honored Ferra, Cameron Martin and Ian Quinn on senior night.

The Bucs’ other victories on the mat came from freshman Luca Rosa (114), sophomore Stephen Hasson (152) and Quinn (285), who scored a 3-1 sudden victory over Isaiah Payne to avenge Payne’s pin in their match earlier this month at the Westmoreland County Coaches Assocation Tournament.

“The Greensburg kids are tough kids and did a good job fighting off their backs,” Shields said. “Overall, it was a good effort. The win (by Quinn) at heavyweight, he’s a senior and that Payne pinned him (at the county meet). In a short amount of time, we reversed a pin to a win on senior night. That was cool.”

Freshmen Cameron Baker (107) and Julian Bertucci (121), junior Nico Zanella (160), sophomore Isaac Lasinski (172) and Martin (189) were awarded forfeit victories for Burrell.

Seniors Kaidyn Gonder (145) and Christian McChesney (215) produced victories for Greensburg Salem (3-8, 1-5), McChesney earning a gritty 2-1 decision over Luke Boylan.

“I was pleased with the way we wrestled,” Greensburg Salem coach Randy Parsley said. “I thought of the eight matches that we wrestled, we could win four of them. We didn’t, but we were close.”

Parsley said it’s difficult to get traction against a strong team such as Burrell, especially being shorthanded.

“We had 133 pounds wrestling a state runner-up and 139 pounds wrestling a guy who was third in the state. We battled,” Parsley said. “That’s OK. It’s all good.”

A celebration erupted when the match ended with back-to-back pins for Burrell. Shields accepted congratulations from a steady stream of parents and fans.

“Obviously, the goal is not to win a section,” he said. “The goal is beyond that. But it’s along the path. We did OK today. Some of those matches, when you’re preparing for the team tournament, you want to see guys score some more points. You want to put guys away in those situations to maximize the team score.”

Ferra, who dominated Young in the first match of the night at 139, was quick, too, to give a nod to Greensburg Salem’s fight.

“They battled hard, but that’s what you want from an opponent,” he said. “Not many guys can fight off their backs like that. They did a good job. They’re tough kids, but we’ve got tough kids, too. I think we’re going to be ready for whatever comes along.”

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