Burrell wrestlers make best of final day at state championships

Saturday, March 10, 2018 | 7:18 PM

HERSHEY — Corey Christie's final high school wrestling match came down to a battle of wills, and the Burrell senior had the proper motivation.

Christie outlasted Conneaut's Peyton Hearn, 2-1, in overtime of their 152-pound fifth-place match Saturday, the final day of the PIAA Class AA wrestling championships at Giant Center.

“All of my coaches have been saying you're going to remember the last match of your high school career — you don't want to end on a loss (because) you'll remember that, you'll regret it forever,” said Christie, a senior. “I just knew I had to come out on top.”

He took that in literal fashion. After he and Hearn deadlocked through three regulation and the sudden-victory overtime periods, Christie escaped in the first tiebreaker period before riding Hearn out in top position in the second overtime period.

“It's all about who wants it more, and I just did not want to end on a loss,” Christie said.

That was a major motivating factor for all wrestlers. With medals secured after Friday night's semifinals and consolation matches, Saturday came down to winning.

Burrell finished the tournament with four medalists: Christie and fellow senior Shaun Gates (eighth place, 160 pounds) and freshmen Ian Oswalt (fourth, 113) and A.J. Corrado (seventh, 132), and Valley junior David Schuffert claimed seventh at 285.

“Our coaches always tell us to finish out on top,” said Corrado, who did just that by beating Freedom's Trent Schultheis, 7-0, in his seventh-place match, avenging an earlier loss. “We never want to lose our last match. The odd numbers are the better numbers.”

Schuffert was looking for a bounce-back after a technical foul call for an illegal slam forced him to default a consolation-round match Friday night, dropping him to the seventh-place match. He finished strong with a 7-2 win over Brookville's Colby Whitehill, his second victory over Whitehill at the state tournament.

“I wish it was (for) third or fourth, but seventh — at least I got a medal,” said Schuffert, who became Valley's first medalist since Marcus Davenport, Terrell Fields and Pat DeWitt in 2014. “(I learned) to just wrestle smart, pretty much, not do anything dumb like slams. It wasn't my fault, but refs see what they see.”

Oswalt had a rematch of his own against Reynolds' Beau Bayless after losing to the returning state champion in the quarterfinals Friday morning. In a tight battle in the third-place match, Bayless used a second-period escape to emerge with a 1-0 victory over Oswalt.

“Obviously, I needed to get out on bottom (in the third period) in that match,” Oswalt said. “That's where matches are won. I couldn't get off bottom, so it's my own fault. I just had to get out.”

Gates, who won a WPIAL championship last month, ended up placing eighth after dropping a major decision to Athens' Nate Bradley.

While Christie, a Coker College recruit, and Gates are graduating, Corrado, Oswalt and Schuffert said they're aiming for a return to Hershey and a higher spot on the podium next season.

“Next year I've got a good shot,” Schuffert said.

Added Oswalt: “We've been to some tough tournaments, but the state tournament's probably the toughest we came to. Now I truly know what I need to work on to come back next year with a gold medal.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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