Gateway’s Whiteside, Hanisak gain experience at WPIAL championships

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Friday, March 8, 2019 | 7:33 PM


Gateway coach Ryan Sula saw improvement from Evan Whiteside in every area of his wrestling, but the one thing that stood out the most was the growing confidence in his 113-pound junior.

A specific example came after a tough 11-2 major decision loss to Latrobe’s Marino Angelicchio in the third-place consolation match at Section 1-AAA individual tournament two weeks ago.

“He came off the mat and he was mad that he lost, but he also said he could beat (Angelicchio),” Sula said. “That gave him confidence. He worked a lot on not getting down on himself after losses and overcoming those loses.”

Whiteside went on to win two matches at WPIALs last week and earned an eighth-place finish at the tournament. Gateway senior Blake Hanisak (170) also participated at WPIALs, losing by fall to Belle Vernon’s Logan Hoffman in the first round.

Whiteside did not qualify for the WPIAL championships last year after making it as a freshman, and he showed well in his return.

He had a pin at 5:38 in the first round over Mars’ Noah Hunkele before losing to Canon-McMillan’s Jimmy Baxter, 9-0 in a major decision in the quarterfinals. In the loser’s bracket, Whiteside rebounded to pin Chartiers Valley’s Tony Montgomery in 1:19 before losing a tough 5-4 decision to Bradley Stipetich of North Allegheny.

Whiteside finished the season 25-13.

“The end of the season was good for him,” Sula said. “To know that he could go down to the WPIAL tournament and compete and place in the top eight was huge for him.

“I believe his weight class is one of the toughest in the WPIAL.”

In his first and only season on the team, Hanisak earned his spot at WPIALs with a 9-0 major decision over Latrobe’s A.J. Rock in the fifth-place consolation match at sectionals.

Hanisak finished 14-13, and Sula was impressed with the strides he made in a short period of time.

“He was very excited to make it to WPIALs,” Sula said. “I was pleased with Blake’s commitment all year. He just kept getting better and better. He had a little bit of an injury at the end of the season, but he sucked it up. He ended up dropping two weight classes over the last two months. He got in better shape and it showed.”

Another Gateway senior, Bryce Washington (220), nearly joined Hanisak and Whiteside at WPIALs, but he dropped a tough 4-3 decision to Penn-Trafford’s Peyton Kelly in the fifth-place consolation match at sectionals.

Sula had an end-of-the-season meeting with his team Tuesday and discussed offseason programs for his returning wrestlers. Aside from Whiteside, Sula mentioned a few other returners who showed promise, including Chase Frenchik, Matt Hall and David Hall.

“Frenchik wrestled varsity this year and in junior high a little bit, but is still relatively new to the sport,” Sula said. “He turned it on at the end of the year and got a lot better. I expect him to take a step forward next year. Matt Hall, who has been wrestling since seventh grade, will be a senior next year. David Hall is a first-year kid, but he worked hard and got some wins at the end. I’m hoping that he can also take a step forward next year. ”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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