Connellsville wrestling keeps WPIAL team tournament streak alive
Monday, February 8, 2021 | 10:18 PM
The streak continues, and Connellsville showed what opponents have missed this season.
The Falcons captured the WPIAL Class AAA Section 2 title Monday, defeating Norwin, 40-25, and Thomas Jefferson, 43-27.
The victories advance the Falcons (6-3) to the WPIAL Team Tournament for the 43rd consecutive season. Connellsville is the only team to qualify for the team tournament every year since it began in 1979.
It’s been a crazy year for the Falcons. The coronavirus delayed the start of the season, injuries to four starters slowed the progress and, two weeks ago, they had to pull out of the Powerade Tournament and postpone other duals because the program was shutdown with a covid-19 case.
Connellsville returned to action Saturday and won three matches at the State College Duals. The Falcons carried that momentum into Monday’s matches at Thomas Jefferson.
“We’re just grateful the WPIAL committee put us in the tournament since we only wrestled one section match,” Connellsville first-year coach Mike Yancosky said. “Obviously, it was the right choice.
“It was a typical Connellsville victory. We had some guys step up and get big wins, and we had other guys who did their jobs even in defeat and allowed other guys to do their thing.”
In the first match, the Falcons rallied from 19-11 deficit after six matches by winning six of the final seven bouts. Connellsville got pins from heavyweight Cameron Mickulicz, Jace Ross (132) and Zach Bigam (138).
Yancosky said Mickulicz’s pin was a huge win for the team, and he felt Mason Prinkey continued his good start.
“We gave great effort,” Norwin coach Kyle Martin said. “I’m very proud of our performance in most weights. Luke (Passarelli) lost a tough match. He wrestled well, just rushed in a couple positions.
“Not many people expected us to be here, but we did things the right way this season to this point. In grand scheme of things, it is just wrestling and our team are just fantastic young adults.”
Norwin jumped out to its lead as John Altieri (145) and Chase Krantiz (160) won by technical falls, Josh Page won a decision and Anthony Barle (215), down 4-0, rallied with a pin.
In the title match, the Jared Keslar’s win to begin the match against Thomas Jefferson’s Mike Zucar set the tone.
The Falcons also got pins from Dennis Nichelson (215), Chad Ozias (120) and Gab Ruggieri (132).
“Jared was strong the entire match and controlled it.” Yancosky said.
Thomas Jefferson received a semifinal bye because undefeated Hempfield pulled out of the field, opting to get ready for the individual postseason rather than risk a potential shutdown in the event the team competition led to a coronavirus exposure.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
More High School Sports• Former CMU, Saint Vincent assistant ready to attack Franklin Regional basketball job
• Westmoreland high school notebook: Inaugural Cunningham memorial tournament a success
• Deer Lakes soccer standout ready to kick off college career at St. Francis
• Penn-Trafford’s Nick Turowski among local golfers set to test their skills at AJGA Junior Tournament
• Hempfield softball team prepares for post-Bob Kalp era