Burrell’s Ian Oswalt hoping to join elite group of 4-time WPIAL champions
Tuesday, February 16, 2021 | 4:52 PM
On the way to his first three individual WPIAL titles, Burrell’s Ian Oswalt might have been one of the most motivated wrestlers in the WPIAL. It showed, as the Bucs’ 138-pounder won at least 45 matches in each of his first three seasons and was on the brink of capturing his first PIAA title as a junior last winter.
Now, with the inner drive to win a PIAA individual title — along with joining Burrell wrestlers Jordan Shields and Joe Makara as the only Bucs who have won four-straight WPIAL titles — Oswalt is more motivated than ever heading into this weekend.
“Obviously, I’ve been motivated every year that I go to the postseason because it’s the most important time of the year and I put all my effort into every match I wrestle,” he said. “But especially when it’s my senior season and I still haven’t achieved my goal of becoming a state champ. It’s kind of like the final go. So I have to wrestle my best and be my best.”
Throughout the year, Oswalt has been dealing with stops and starts because of injury and the covid-19 pandemic. He has wrestled only 11 bouts, but Oswalt, who captured the 132-pound WPIAL title last season, is undefeated (six falls, three forfeits, two major decisions).
But the ups and downs and knowing he could have his senior season taken away at any time has pushed Oswalt to work even harder.
“Every day, we just treat it like it could be our last day,” Oswalt said. “Everyone has been working hard and especially like the guys that have high goals and want to attain those goals. But I think our whole team is on that level because our goal as a team is to place top four in the state, and I think we are starting to come together even more and push each other to reach those goals.”
At the beginning of the year, Oswalt sat out the North Allegheny Invitational to rest a nagging leg injury. Then, at the end of January, Burrell had to pull out of the annual Powerade tournament because of covid protocols.
Oswalt also sat out of the Westmoreland County Wrestling Tournament.
That meant Oswalt didn’t wrestle between Jan. 25 and Feb. 8. He still delivered during the WPIAL team tournament last week as the Bucs captured their 15th straight WPIAL title. But he also has had to work his way back into shape.
“I’ve already been working hard to do that, and when it comes to the postseason, you just need to be at your best,” said Oswalt, who won his first two WPIAL titles at 113. “I’ve been trying to do that, and I’ve been working hard to try and attain being my best.”
During the team tournament he earned an 11-0 major decision over Mt. Pleasant’s Connor Johnson to help Burrell capture their 18th straight section title. He followed that by pinning Quaker Valley’s Jamir Steffey in 1 minute, 43 seconds in the WPIAL semifinals.
On Saturday, Oswalt earned a 12-1 major decision over Burgettstown’s Anthony Lancos to keep his perfect season alive. But he still feels like he has a few improvements to iron out heading into the individual tournament.
“I feel like I need to be a little bit more offensive and just work a little more on my conditioning,” Oswalt said. “Not going to lie: I definitely need to work on that a little more.”
Oswalt is never one to get overconfident, but the thought of capturing a fourth WPIAL title is special. Ccombined with his team championships, he could finish his career with eight WPIAL gold medals.
“That would definitely be one of my most proud accomplishments because I know many people have done it, and I know two people from Burrell, Joey Makara and Jordan Shields, have done it, so I wanna join them,” Oswalt said. “Since my freshman year, that’s been a goal of mine, and now I’m here in my senior year and the opportunity is this weekend and I just have to capitalize on it.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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