Burrell wrestling holds off Quaker Valley to return to WPIAL finals

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 9:23 PM


Although it might’ve been a little closer than they would’ve liked, the WPIAL Class AA defending champion Burrell Bucs will have the opportunity to defend their crown.

Behind pins from freshman Cooper Hornack (113), junior Nicholas Salerno (132) and seniors Ian Oswalt (138) and AJ Corrado (160), the Bucs (11-1) held off a surge from Quaker Valley (12-6) and punched their ticket to the WPIAL championship with a 41-27 victory.

“We’re striving to be one of the top four teams in the state, and I think our team this year wants it more than any other team that I’ve been on in the past four years,” Oswalt said. “This win means a lot to us, for sure, and we just want to keep the momentum rolling.”

Burrell will face Burgettstown at noon Saturday at Canon-McMillan. The Blue Devils defeated Beth-Center, 48-11, on the opposite side of the bracket.

Oswalt started off Wednesday’s match by pinning Quaker Valley’s Jamir Steffey in 1 minute, 44 seconds. Then Aaron Edwards (145) followed up with a major decision for the Bucs to go up 10-0.

Quaker Valley 152-pounder Justin Richey earned a close 5-4 decision over Burrell’s Damian Barr before Corrado stopped the momentum with a 23-second pin.

Burrell 172-pounder Colby Christie earned a victory due to injury default before the Quakers rattled off four straight wins to take a 27-22 lead.

Conner Redinger (189), Patrick Cutchember (215) and Amir McCracken (285) all picked up pins and freshman Jack Kazalas won by forfeit at 106 pounds.

With four matches remaining, the 14-time defending WPIAL champions had their back against the ropes. But Oswalt had faith in the lighter weights.

“I was a little bit nervous because anything could happen, but I was super confident in our lighter weights coming through,” Oswalt said. “I’d trust those guys with my life.”

Burrell’s lower weights won the final four bouts to pull out the 41-27 victory with two pins, a decision and a major decision.

“This is always an accomplishment and always something that we work for as a team, and it’s good to be back wrestling for another WPIAL championship, especially in a year like this,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said.

The match may have come down to the 120-pound match between Burrell’s Niko Ferra and Quaker Valley’s Logan Richey. Both had prime opportunities to pin the other on multiple occasions, but both wrestlers were able to avoid the fall.

After almost being pinned twice, Ferra pulled out the 10-9 decision. Quaker Valley coach Mike Heinl was proud of the way Richey performed.

“Logan hasn’t shown us that very often, but we know it’s inside of him,” Heinl said. “It was great to see him do that.”

The Quakers have won their section the past three seasons and have made it to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals all three years. They lost to Freedom two years ago and dropped a 57-15 decision against Burrell last season, but that didn’t matter to them this season.

They wanted another shot, and they showed they could compete.

“We had confidence coming in here that we could compete against Mt. Pleasant and Burrell, and we wanted the shot at Burrell. I mean, everyone does,” Heinl said. “I’m really happy with how our team performed, and with a couple of close matches there, it was a great night for us.”

In the first match of the evening, the Quakers defeated Mt. Pleasant, 36-32. After going down 14-0, Dom Floro (152), Justin Richey (160), Redinger, and Cutchember all picked up pins to go up 24-14 and they never looked back. Mt. Pleasant had beaten Quaker Valley, 41-27, during the Hampton Dawg Duals on Jan. 23.

Burgettstown 48, Beth-Center 11 – Parker Sentipal (106) and Dylan Slovick (113) won by major decision and Gaven Suica won by fall as host Burgetttown jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back in a WPIAL Class AA semifinal. Joey Sentipal (132) won a close 9-8 decision over Kyle McCollum and Ryan Green (172) added a pin for Burgettstown. Tyler Debnar, Tyler Berish and Trevor Pettit won bouts for Beth-Center, which defeated Montour, 45-28, in the quarterfinals.

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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