Burrell wrestling looking to prove it belongs with the best at state tournament

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 | 7:10 PM

The Burrell wrestling team has been in this position a time or two.

In fact, for the 14th straight year, the Bucs are heading to the Giant Center in Hershey as the WPIAL Class AA champions. Over the past decade and a half, they’ve built a certified dynasty, and the feeling of lifting WPIAL gold never seems to get old for the Bucs.

“It’s something that comes along the way for us,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “It’s certainly one of our goals every year, but it’s never the ultimate goal. We know that if we want to accomplish our bigger goals that we need to be WPIAL champions. So that’s kind of how we view it.”

As Burrell gets ready to make the familiar 214-mile trip to the east, their motivation and mindset is shifting from retaining their WPIAL champion status to proving that they are more than just that.

“We want to be a team that’s always going to be there,” junior Ian Oswalt said. “We want to show them why we aren’t just a WPIAL team. We are a state team.”

After their performance this past weekend at the WPIAL championship, where they won two matches by a combined score of 120-24 and held No. 2 seed Burgettstown to nine points while racking up eight pins, the Bucs seem to be well on their way to doing so.

“I think heading into the match, all of us knew that we wanted to go in and dominate,” Oswalt said. “I think that played a role in the outcome. Everyone knew what we needed to do. We wanted to give up the least amount of points possible so we could to show that we mean business and we aren’t messing around.”

Now the Bucs just have to show what they are capable of. That starts with a PIAA first-round matchup against District 4 third-place finisher Montoursville on Thursday. The Warriors defeated Boiling Springs, 45-25, on Monday in a preliminary matchup.

“They are a really tough team, and sometimes you look at rankings as just a list, but they have five guys ranked in the state,” Shields said. “They definitely have some good individuals, that is for sure.”

According to pa-wrestling.com, the Warriors have four wrestlers with 25 or more wins. Senior Cameron Wood, who wrestles at 220 or 285 pounds, leads the way with 31 victories this season.

District 11 champion Saucon Valley, defending PIAA Class AA champion and District 10 champion Reynolds, District 6 champion Forest Hills and District 1 champion Faith Christian are all on Burrell’s side of the bracket as well.

Last year, Saucon Valley earned a 32-25 win over Burrell to knock the Bucs out of the championship bracket. Then, Chestnut Ridge defeated the Bucs 32-29 in the fourth round of the consolation bracket to end their run for a third place-finish.

This year, though, the Bucs have a slightly different feeling around them. Oswalt said they are looking the best they have since he joined the program as a freshman, and they are motivated to prove that they belong among the best in the state.

“Winning the WPIAL is great and everything, but I know that our guys, especially this team, this year, we want to go into the state tournament to make a point,” Oswalt said. “We want to prove to people that we aren’t just a good WPIAL team. We want to prove that we are a team that can compete on the highest level in the state tournament.”

The PIAA team tournament will take place at Hershey’s Giant Center from Thursday to Saturday. The state championship match will take place on Saturday.

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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