Five things to watch at Saturday’s WPIAL wrestling semifinals, finals

Friday, February 1, 2019 | 7:27 PM


The WPIAL Class AAA and AA wrestling championships will be held Saturday. Kiski Area (Class AAA) and Burrell (AA) are the returning champions, and both are seeded No. 1 in each classification.

Here are some interesting facts about the team tournament.

Can Burrell do it again?

Burrell has reached the WPIAL finals 16 consecutive seasons, winning the past 12 times. The Bucs are favored to win again. They’ve become the New York Yankees and New England Patriots of Class AA wrestling.

They face Beth-Center (12-4) at noon Saturday in the semifinals at Chartiers-Houston. The other semifinal features upstart Quaker Valley (14-5), a program in its third season, facing rival Freedom (8-2). The winners will square off in the WPIAL final at 2 p.m.

Quaker Valley edged Freedom, 36-35, in the Section 2 final.

Burrell (9-2) has dominated Class AA for various reasons — it usually has a full lineup and doesn’t give forfeits, and the team is well-schooled.

Getting freshman Nicholas Salerno (113) back from injury gives the Bucs another solid wrestler. If Bryan Gaul returns, they’ll be tougher to beat. Gaul hasn’t wrestled since the Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament Jan. 4.

Can Kiski Area repeat?

Don’t pencil in Kiski Area as the Class AAA champion just yet. The Cavaliers still have to win two matches and that won’t be easy.

First, the Cavs (13-0), the reigning two-time champions, must defeat Canon-McMillan (9-2) in the semifinals at 4 p.m. at Norwin. They edged Canon-McMillan, 36-33, in a nonsection match Dec. 21.

Kiski won eight of 14 bouts, which included big wins from Dom Giordano (120), Sammy Starr (138) and heavyweight Stone Joseph.

The Cavs also defeated No. 2 Seneca Valley, 39-32, that same night with Joseph and Troy Kuhns (220) picking up key wins. The teams each won seven bouts.

Seneca Valley (12-2) and Waynesburg (15-1) square off in the other semifinal. Seneca Valley defeated Norwin, 46-22, and Waynesburg beat Hempfield, 39-33, in the quarterfinals. The winners face off at 6 p.m. for the title.

Goal: states for Waynesburg

It’s been 15 years since Waynesburg reached the WPIAL Class AAA finals. That year, the Raiders fell to Connellsville, 46-18. Two years prior, the Raiders lost to Trinity, 33-19.

The last time Waynesburg won the title was in 1989 when it defeated Connellsville, 35-13. It was the only time it won a Class AAA title.

Kiski Area defeated Waynesburg, 39-26, in the semifinals in 2018. Waynesburg dropped a 39-31 decision to Seneca Valley for third place. Before that, the last time Waynesburg reached the semifinals was in 2007 when it lost to Hempfield, 46-21.

“We got to the semifinals last year and lost,” Waynesburg coach Joe Throckmorton said. “Our goal this year is to make it to Hershey.”

Long drought for the Bulldogs

Beth-Center has reached the Class AA finals once in school history, defeating Fort Cherry, 40-26, in 1984. The Bulldogs were coached by Dick Caputo.

Beth-Center has only reached the tournament nine times and been in the semifinals two previous times. The semifinal trip was in 1983 when they lost to Washington.

Beth-Center has a tall task against Burrell.

The 2006 team qualified for the tournament but forfeited the match to Highlands.

The Bulldogs reached the semifinals by defeating Southmoreland, 51-18, and Derry, 42-30.

New and old

Quaker Valley has sponsored wrestling for three years and has reached the playoffs twice.

The Quakers lost to Freedom, 66-16, in the opening round of the tournament in 2018.

Quaker Valley advanced to the semifinals this season with a 57-16 win against Valley and a 48-30 win against Elizabeth Forward.

The Quakers are led by Conner Redinger (132), John Rocco Kazalas (145), Patrick Cutchember (160) and Geoff Magin (182).

Some of the top wrestlers for the Bulldogs are Kenny Duschek (138), Jacob Pail (152), Trent Schultheis (160) and Bryson Miller (195).

Quaker Valley won a 36-35 nail-biter in the Section 2 finals.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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