Burrell’s Oswalt joins elite group; Bucs have 4 champions

Saturday, February 20, 2021 | 8:54 PM

The Burrell wrestling team could not have asked for better performance in the finals than it had Saturday at the WPIAL Class AA championship at Canon-McMillan.

The Bucs were 4-for-4 in the finals, highlighted by senior Ian Oswalt becoming the 31st wrestler to win four WPIAL titles. He also is the third Burrell wrestler to accomplish that feat.

Oswalt joins an elite group that includes Burrell’s Joe Makara (2000-03) and Jordan Shields (2005-08).

Winning his second WPIAL title was senior AJ Corrado, and freshman Cooper Hornack and sophomore Nike Ferra claimed their first titles.

Oswalt (18-0) defeated Ligonier Valley junior Ryan Harbert, 10-5, in the 138-pound final. Oswalt defeated Harbert, 6-3, in the Section 3 final Friday.

“This is something I wanted to achieve since my freshman year,” Oswalt said. “I was fortunate enough to be in the spot to do so. I sort of capitalized on a couple things.

“I haven’t had quite the season I wanted to with covid and not wrestling a lot of matches. I’m just happy I advanced. I did what I had to do and happy to move on to next week.”

Oswalt missed the Powerade and Westmoreland County tournaments while rehabilitating an undisclosed injury. He said he feels close to 100%.

“We couldn’t have done any better, four champions and Ian joining an elite club,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said. “It’s an elite group. There are a bunch of good wrestlers on there, and Ian is certainly one of them.”

Corrado earned his second title with a pin of Carlynton senior Oleg Melnyk in the third period at 160.

“I came into the tournament with the mentality of getting a pin in every match. It took a little longer in the finals because he was a good wrestler,” Corrado said. “My goal is to be a state champion. I’ve worked years towards it.

“I wrestle ever match the same way, never underestimating anyone. I wrestle my pace, and I try to score as many points as possible. The entire team wrestled well.”

Cooper Hornack, a freshman, won the 106-pound title with a dominating 3-0 win against Quaker Valley freshman Jack Kazalas.

Hornack (21-1) used a low attacking style to control the match and used a first-period takedown to grab an early lead. He never allowed Kazalas to get any clean shots.

“That was my gameplan, to stay low,” Hornack said. “We’ve wrestled before, and they were always close. It feels great to come in and win my first tournament.”

Ferra (20-6) rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the second period to defeat Carlynton’s senior Bryce Rodriguez, 4-3. Two second-period escapes and a takedown helped him build a 4-2 lead.

“I had a good tournament, obviously,” Ferra said. “I went into the finals match knowing I had to win. I knew I could do it. I just stayed relaxed during the rest of the match. I felt I could take him down because that’s my strength.”

Burrell had two fourth-place finishers: Shawn Szymanski (126) and Damian Barr (152). In normal years, they would have qualified for the Southwest Region at IUP on Feb. 27. This season, only the top three advanced.

Valley had two wrestlers place, but only junior Dion Lyons (132) advanced to next week. Charles Perkins placed fourth at 120.

Lyons, who won the Section 3 title Friday by defeating Mt. Pleasant freshman Jamison Poklembo, 2-1, lost to Poklembo in the finals, 9-2.

Poklembo used a three-point nearfall early in the second period to take control of the match.

“I have to be happy because the regional tournament starts a new week,” Lyons said. “I wanted the gold and didn’t get it. I’m a little upset, but I have to keep my head up and keep on working.”

Check out an archive video stream broadcast of the championships on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

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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