Burrell wrestling rolls to 14th consecutive WPIAL team championship

Saturday, February 1, 2020 | 4:13 PM

The Burrell wrestling team began the WPIAL Class AA tournament Wednesday with a dominant quarterfinal victory over Beth-Center.

It continued Saturday at Chartiers-Houston as the top-seeded Bucs swiftly turned away the challenge of Quaker Valley in the semifinals and Burgettstown in the final to claim their WPIAL-record 14th consecutive Class AA title.

Burrell (11-5) pounded Burgettstown, 63-9, winning 11 of the 12 contested bouts and recording eight pins.

“There were a lot of good kids and a lot of good matches, and it often came down to that simple thing of who wants it more,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “We took a lot of their kids into, what we say, ‘deep waters,’ and our guys came out on top. We had, I think, 14 or 15 pins over two matches. That’s a crazy number considering the talent you have on both Quaker Valley and Burgettstown. Both teams are so well coached and have tough kids.”

Burrell totaled 14 pins on the day as Trent Valovchik (126), Ian Oswalt (132), Noah Linderman (160), and Mikey Scherer (195) each pinned both of their opponents.

Shawn Szymanski (113) and Nick Salerno (120) pinned their way to victory against Quaker Valley, and Nico Ferra (106), Logan Bechtold (138), AJ Corrado (152) and Ricky Feroce (220) tallied pins against Burgettstown.

Oswalt’s pins, over Quaker Valley’s Cole White and Burgettstown’s Evan Koonse, came in a combined 31 seconds.

“That’s what the coaches have been pushing for us to do: get those pins and get things rolling,” said Linderman, whose pin at the first-period buzzer against Burgettstown was part of a run of seven wins to open the match as Burrell built a 36-0 lead.

“We didn’t let (Burgettstown) get any momentum,” Linderman added. “This is such a wonderful feeling. Being a senior and getting to experience (a WPIAL title) one more time, I’m on top of the world.”

Cole Clark turned in one of the more emotional victories of the championship match as he rallied in the third period to defeat Turner Lehman at 182. Clark, facing a 6-4 deficit after being taken down for three nearfall points, used a reversal and later a takedown with 27 seconds left to score an 8-7 victory that officially clinched the title for the Bucs.

“That kid (Lehman) has 23 or 24 wins, and he’s a bigger kid than Cole,” Shields said. “Cole is a 160-pounder, honestly. But he’s just all heart. Matches in the third period that are close, I am taking him any day of the week.”

Clark said he was pleased to get the win to help his team.

“That was really exciting,” he said. “I love the energy here. It’s my second year here at WPIAL finals, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Salerno opened the finals with a 7-1 win over Burgettstown’s Joey Sentipal at 120, and Simon Slahyovsky later added a 9-5 win over Ryan Green at 145.

Corrado, No. 2 in the Trib Class AA 152-pound rankings, scored two wins against wrestlers also ranked in the top five.

He avenged an overtime loss at Powerade to Quaker Valley’s Conner Redinger with an 8-5 win Saturday. He then pinned Burgettstown’s Shane Kemper 29 seconds into the second period.

Burgettstown’s lone win in the finals came from D.J. Slovick, who edged Dom Holmes, 2-0, at 170. Holmes was riding momentum into the finals after scoring a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Quaker Valley’s Mason Diemont.

Burrell and Burgettstown advance to the PIAA tournament in Hershey and will open the event with matches Thursday against opponents to be determined.

“Our goal is to come back from Hershey with at least a state medal,” Shields said. “In order to put ourselves in a good position to do that, we had to come in here and dominate the WPIAL, and I thought we did that today. We know the opponents are going to keep getting tougher. But now, it’s on to the next goal.”

The trip to states is the first for Burgettstown in the 21 years the PIAA has held the tournament. The Blue Devils were in the semifinals for the first time since 2014.

“The kids got a taste of success last year with the section title,” Burgettstown coach Joey Vigliotti said. “This year, they wanted that section title again and a trip to states. They worked hard and got both. I am proud of them for what they’ve accomplished. Now, we’re going to get back to work, correct some mistakes and get ready for states.”

Quaker Valley defeated McGuffey, 52-27, in the third-place consolation, and the Quakers will take part in the PIAA playoffs with a preliminary match Monday against the District 10 runner-up.

QV scored six pins, a major decision and added two forfeit victories to put down McGuffey’s challenge and bounce back from its 57-15 semifinal loss to Burrell.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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