Frazier drops Highlands in WPIAL team tournament

Wednesday, February 1, 2023 | 10:17 PM

There’s a new kid on the mat.

Upstart Frazier, whose wrestling program is in its seventh season of PIAA competition, is moving on in the WPIAL Class 2A team tournament in its first season in the playoffs.

The Section 2 champion Commodores earned a pair of playoff victories Wednesday night at Highlands, finishing with a 45-30 quarterfinals-round win over the host Golden Rams to advance to the semifinals.

Frazier (11-6), which won its first section title, will wrestle top-seeded Section 1 champion Burgettstown (13-0) on Saturday at Chartiers-Houston.

Host Burgettstown defeated Mt. Pleasant, 42-25, in another quarterfinals match Wednesday.

“This is the best team we’ve had so far. These boys all work well together,” Frazier coach Buck Watkins said. “They all mesh and do the extra things. They just keep fighting for one another.”

Frazier started its wrestling program in 2016 with three athletes before Watkins took over as coach a year later. Now, in his sixth season, his Commodores are making some noise.

“It’s been a really fun and exciting season,” Watkins said. “Our administration, school board, parents, everyone have really come together and worked hard to help the cause.”

With Frazier clinging to a 21-18 lead, Jonah Erdely rallied for a third-period pin at 152 pounds with just 35 seconds remaining to spark a run of three falls followed by a forfeit victory that clinched the match for the Commodores.

“Jonah was down 2-1 (to Highlands’ Brayden White) and comes back and gets that pin. That’s huge,” Watkins said.

Adam Kortina (133), Andrew Bandish (139), Ryan Celaschi (160) and Jackson Angelo (172) also registered pins for Frazier.

Javeon Chambers (114), Bryce Black (121) and Tyler Bender (215) had pins for Section 5 champion Highlands (9-2).

Frazier avenged a 42-33 loss to Highlands on Dec. 10 at the CV Lewis Guidi Invitational Duals at Chartiers Valley.

“I don’t have much to say besides we’ve just got to get better. That’s it,” Highlands coach Grant Walters said. “Our guys wrestled good, but we had some bumps in the road and we just didn’t recover. That’s part of wrestling. We’ll get back in the practice room, and we’ll get back at it. We’re young.”

Highlands wrestles just one senior.

Frazier advanced to the quarterfinals with a 54-18 rout of Hopewell (6-2), and Highlands moved on by beating Indiana, 42-33. The Indians fell to 7-8.

Frazier jumped to a 21-0 lead against Hopewell and cruised as six Commodores registered pins: Seth Haller (114), Lincoln Dye (121), Tyler Clark (127), Bandish (139), Erdely (145) and Josh Girvin (215).

Highlands rallied from a nine-point deficit against Indiana, riding pins from Angelo Markey (189), Bender (215) and Noah Leslie (285). The Golden Rams also got pins from Jabari Lewis (139), Aiden Burford (145) and White (150).

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