Burrell wrestling rolls to section title, ready to defend WPIAL championship

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022 | 10:18 PM


And the beat goes on for the Burrell wrestling team.

Just when some teams think they can take the Bucs down, Burrell finds another gear.

Burrell captured its 19th consecutive section title Wednesday by defeating Mt. Pleasant, 43-25, in the Section 3-2A finals at Mt. Pleasant.

The Bucs defeated Southmoreland, 52-18, and Mt. Pleasant hammered Knoch, 71-6, in the semifinals.

Southmoreland earned third place with a 42-30 victory against Knoch. All four teams advance to the WPIAL Class 2A team championship tournament which is set to begin Feb. 2.

The WPIAL wrestling committee will meet Thursday to set up the tournament and Burrell, which has won 15 consecutive titles, should be seeded No. 1.

Burrell is 27-0 in section tournaments and has not lost to a WPIAL Class 2A team since the 2006 finals against Mt. Pleasant. The Bucs haven’t lost a regular-season match to a WPIAL Class 2A team since 2003 when Mt. Pleasant defeated them, 39-35.

The Vikings were no match this time for the Bucs, who raced out to a 19-6 after five bouts.

“That’s a really good team and balanced lineup, but we found a way to win,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said.

Jamison Poklembo gave Mt. Pleasant a 6-0 lead with a pin at 138, but the Bucs won the next four bouts, all with bonus points.

Shawn Szymanski started the run with a pin at 145. Isaac Lacinski followed with a technical fall and Damian Barr (160) and Nico Zanella (172) picked by major decisions.

The Vikings trimmed the lead to 19-15 when Noah Gnibus (189) edged Cole Clark, 7-3, and two-time PIAA champion Dayton Pitzer (215) recorded a 24-second fall.

Then came the turning point. Mt. Pleasant heavyweight Joe Smelka was nursing a 2-0 lead when Luke Boylan got a reversal and pin to stop the Vikings’ momentum.

Shields leaped from his seat and pumped his fist. He knew his team would not be beat.

“The heavyweight match was a swing match,” Shields said. “It tipped the things in our favor.

“We knew we were giving up 50 pounds, but I felt Luke had a better matchup at heavyweight. It worked in our favor.”

Mt. Pleasant coach Zach Snyder agreed with Shields.

“I thought Joe was doing a great job,” Snyder said. “But after that loss, I couldn’t find many more wins.”

Burrell was able to put the match away on pins by Calio Zanella (113), Cooper Hornack (120) and Niko Ferra (132).

“We take it year by year,” Shields said. “It’s been a heck of a streak. This team, on paper, might not be our most talented team that we’ve had, but this team has a lot of fight. I like our chances as we move forward.

“There are a lot of talented teams and there are going to be a lot of tough battles. But we keep showing up and going out there. I like our chances.”

Snyder said we got a good preview of what’s ahead in the team tournament.

“The kids were worried about winning the section title. I want to win the WPIAL title,” Snyder said. “We have some work to do.”

Burrell showed everyone that it’s not ready to give up anything.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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