Key matches at section tournaments could decide WPIAL team bracket

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022 | 9:02 PM


WPIAL wrestling committee chairman Frank Vulcano Jr. said he has a good idea who the top teams are this season.

But will Wednesday’s section tournaments change his mind?

A lot of possible key section matches in both classifications could change things.

In Class AA, No. 2 Beth-Center and No. 3 Burgettstown could meet for the Section 1 title, while No. 1 Burrell, which has won 15 consecutive Class AA titles, could get a big challenge from No. 5 Mt. Pleasant in Section 3.

Burrell is No. 1 until someone beats them,” Vulcano said. “But there are a lot of good Class AA teams.”

No. 4 Quaker Valley, which finished second in the Allegheny County tournament Jan. 15, is wrestling well and will battle No. 6 Laurel for the Section 2 title.

Burgettstown had a strong showing in its own tournament.

Burrell coach Josh Shields said his team has steadily improved throughout the season and that the Bucs will be ready for any challenge.

The first challenge comes against Southmoreland at Mt. Pleasant. If the Bucs defeat the Scotties, and Mt. Pleasant gets by Knoch, the two teams will meet for the title.

In Class AAA, Waynesburg, a two-time WPIAL champion, has been ranked No. 1 all season. Latrobe is No. 2, and Connellsville is No. 3.

There is a good chance Connellsville and Latrobe meet for the Section 2 title at Latrobe.

“It’s going to come down to six or seven matches,” Latrobe coach Mark Mears said. “It’s big for both teams, but I fully expect that all three top teams will make it to the Giant Center in Hershey. It will be interesting to see who the WPIAL ranks four, five and six.”

Connellsville coach Bill Swink said he expects a good battle against the Wildcats. He agrees with Mears that it will come down to key matches.

“I’m sure we are favored in a couple, and they’re favored in others,” Swink said. “Everyone is saying we’re one of the top teams. I believe us winning the (Connellsville) duals showed the kids can compete against anyone.”

Connellsville defeated Canon-McMillan, Kiski Area and Penn-Trafford in that event.

Franklin Regional coach Matt Lebe was busy checking out the lineups of Armstrong, Kiski Area and Penn-Trafford after his team defeated Penn-Trafford in the Section 1, sub-section B battle for first place.

The Panthers will host the Section 1 tournament and must get by Armstrong before worrying about Kiski or Penn-Trafford.

“We feel we can compete against all of team,” Lebe said. “All three are very good. We just have to take care of ourselves.”

The top teams in Section 3 are Butler, Pine-Richland, West Allegheny and North Allegheny, while in Section 4 Waynesburg, Bethel Park, Peters Township and Canon-McMillan are the best.

Then, on Thursday, it’s up to the committee to seed the WPIAL team tournament.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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