Dual, individual tournaments post different dynamic for area wrestlers

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 | 11:23 PM

Corey Christie heard his Burrell teammates' cheers as he tangled with Southmoreland's Tyler Griffiths during the 152-pound championship match at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament.

Although he was wrestling for an individual title at the time, it didn't seem that way.

“That's how it is during a dual meet,” said Christie, who went on to beat Griffiths with an escape in the ultimate tiebreaker period. “We've got the best team out there. We've got a lot of support. A lot of guys motivate me.”

Like most teams, Burrell wrestles in a mixture of dual and individual tournaments throughout the season. The Bucs competed at the Powerade Christmas Tournament and King of the Mountain tournament, both for individuals, in December, but they also will travel to the Brookville Ultimate Duals later this month.

Christie, a senior, is torn on which he prefers.

“I like the dual tournaments because you're wrestling for yourself and your team,” he said. “But I don't know. I just love competing.”

The dual and individual tournaments have their pros and cons, their supporters and detractors. Dual tournaments bring in an element of team pride because overall wins and losses are at stake. Individual tournaments allow wrestlers to battle several opponents and potentially get a preview of the upcoming individual postseason.

“I just like wrestling in general,” said Kiski Area senior Noah Levett after winning the 138-pound WCCA title. “Wrestling for your team or individuals is fun to me. I like wrestling for team because it gets the team pumped up in that aspect, but I like wrestling for myself as well because it sees where I stand individually.”

Valley junior David Schuffert, the WCCA's heavyweight champion, was more unequivocal in his preference for individual tournaments.

“I like it way better than the dual tournament because it's yourself, and I just like being myself,” said Schuffert, who's competed at three individual tournaments so far this season. “I like being with my team, but I just like going out there and just winning by myself.”

Burrell coach Josh Shields said he believes his team's strength plays more in duals because of the depth of its lineup — “you've got to be solid throughout,” he said — whereas teams with a few standout wrestlers but less depth tend to thrive more in individual tournaments.

Shields said while there's a slight difference between duals and individual tournaments, he treats them mostly the same, encouraging them to go for major decisions, technical falls and pins even in individual tournaments. That, in turn, can prepare the Bucs for the WPIAL and PIAA postseason.

“It's the same concept,” Shields said. “We try to teach these kids to always look to score bonus. That trains them for the dual meets. We still try to set it up like OK, here's our team goal, this is what we want to do.”

Shields' strategy seems to work: Burrell has won the last 11 WPIAL Class AA team titles, and the Bucs also won a state team championship in 2008.

“The key to everything is you've got to wrestle the best kids,” said Shields, who looks for top competition in dual and individual tournaments alike. “(They) knock you back down and show you what you need to work at.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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