Ellwood City’s Walley makes history; Frazier’s Lawrence loses controversial match at PIAA Class AA championships

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Saturday, March 7, 2020 | 8:17 PM


HERSHEY — On a day when Ellwood City senior Austin Walley became the school’s first state champion, the only thing fans who attended the PIAA Class AA championship were talking about was officiating in the 160-pound final.

That’s where Notre Dame-Green Pond senior Andrew Cerniglia defeated Frazier senior Thayne Lawrence, 11-8, in match that featured two returning champions and saw numerous calls go against Lawrence, a two-time winner.

The official waved off a takedown at the end of the second period and stopped Lawrence when he locked in a cradle early in the third period. The large crowd at Giant Center voiced their disapproval.

“I had a cradle locked up for 10 seconds, and he stopped it dead and I don’t know why,” Lawrence said. “There’s nothing I could do about it.

“Things are a little blurry. I came out a little sleepy at first, but as the match went on, I kept my composure. I kept wrestling and had some bad calls, but that’s the life of wrestling.”

Cerniglia, the returning 145-pound champion, took it to Lawrence in the first period, getting three takedowns and a two-point nearfall for an 8-4 lead.

But then, Lawrence took over and dominated the next four minutes.

“I tend to start too fast, and I tired,” Cerniglia said. “I’ve had a pinning combination stopped before on me. He kept coming back at me.”

Cerniglia couldn’t escape the clutches of Lawrence in the third period and was called for stalling once.

Lawrence (24-1, 120-12) finished his career as a two-time state champion, a runner-up and a third-place finisher.

“I have to put this behind me because I have a big future in front of me,” Lawrence said who will attend Lehigh. “Now I have to get back to work.

“Coming from a little school, I think it’s really pretty cool to look back on. Time goes quick.”

While Thayne Lawrence moves on, his brother Rune, an eighth grader, looks to carry on the tradition next year. He recently won his second state junior high state title.

Thayne Lawrence said his brother might be better than him.

Walley was the only WPIAL finalist to win in Class AA. He defeated Montoursville junior Dylan Bennett, 6-5, using a reversal in the third period to pull out the win. He is the second wrestler from Lawrence County to win a state title. The first was New Castle’s Richard Panella in 1969.

“This is awesome,” Walley said. “Words aren’t coming to my mind. This probably won’t be a great interview, but I’m really excited. This is a great way to end a great year.”

Walley, sporting a black right eye from an earlier match, said he learned a lot last season. He will attend Bucknell.

Burrell juniors Ian Oswalt (132) and AJ Corrado (152) came up short in their matches. Oswalt lost in overtime to Glendale junior Brock McMillen, 5-1, and Corrado fell to St. Joseph Catholic Academy senior Caleb Downing, 3-2.

Oswalt was trailing 2-1 in the third overtime period and needed an escape to tie the score, but McMillen was able to tilt him for a three-point nearfall to end the match.

“If I would have gotten away, I believe I would have won,” Oswalt said. “That didn’t happen, so I can’t worry about it. I think I have to want it more next year if I want to be a state champion.”

McMillen defeated Oswalt in overtime at the Southwest Regional tournament Feb. 22.

Corrado’s match was stopped numerous times to clean up blood from a cut above his right eye. The stoppages prevented him from getting in a flow.

“It was exciting to make the finals, but I wasn’t satisfied,” Corrado said. “There is still time to work things for next year. I had to deal with the stoppages, and it didn’t help.”

He also lost to Dowling in the Southwest Regional.

South Park junior Joey Fischer (113) lost a close match to Reynolds junior Gary Steen, 4-2, in overtime.

Elizabeth Forward senior Ryan Michaels (120) allowed a five-point move in the first period and ended up losing to Troy senior Sheldon Seymour 7-4.

Michaels’ second-place finish is the best in school history.

Derry junior Ty Cymmerman finished sixth at 126 pounds.

While it wasn’t what he wanted, the 126-pound weight class was extremely tough.

“I didn’t wrestle my best tournament,” Cymmerman said. “”I believe I have to be more aggressive and take more gambles. Every wrestler here has a different style, and you have to prepare for anything.”

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

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