No. 1 Waynesburg rallies to win WPIAL Class AAA wrestling title in 31 years

Saturday, February 1, 2020 | 8:32 PM

Waynesburg found itself in an unfamiliar position in the finals of the WPIAL Class AAA wrestling team championship.

With three bouts left Saturday, the top-seeded team needed to win all three and get bonus points in the process, and that’s what they did.

Wins by Nate Stephenson (152 pounds) and Luca Augustine (160) pulled Waynesburg to within three points, which set up a big finish by freshman Eli Makel.

Leading 2-0 in the second period, Makel pinned Marshall Adamson to give No. 1 Waynesburg a thrilling 33-30 victory against No. 2 Seneca Valley.

Both teams have qualified for the PIAA Team Tournament at Giant Center in Hershey on Thursday.

No. 3 Canon-McMillan, which defeated No. 4 Hempfield, 41-16, for third place, can join them if it defeats City League champion Carrick on Monday.

It’s Waynesburg’s first team title since 1989, and sixth since the tournament began in 1979.

“I had beaten the kid earlier this season, and I knew I could major him,” Makel said. “I knew a win wouldn’t do it because we had a team point deducted earlier in the match and we would have lost by criteria. So I had to get at least a major. When I locked in the headlock, I knew he wasn’t getting up.”

Waynesburg reached the finals by defeating Hempfield, 37-33.

“We just didn’t wrestle well,” Hempfield coach Tommy Dolde said. “I’d like to have a couple of those matches back against Waynesburg. Canon-McMillan just isn’t a good matchup for us.

“We had a couple wrestlers competing up, and they were light. We were just outgunned in a couple weight classes.”

Hempfield’s Justin Cramer (195) and Isaiah Vance (285) had pins against Waynesburg, a win by Ethan Berginc (120) and three forfeits after Waynesburg had clinched the match.

In the finals, Waynesburg won eight of the 14 bouts wrestled but pins by Liam Volk-Klos (182), Dave Beahm (285), Dylan Chappell (120) and Chanz Shearer (145) had Seneca Valley up 30-21.

“They kind of positioned themselves at the beginning, and we didn’t anticipate that,” Waynesburg coach Joe Throckmorton said. “I kind of knew what we had at the end and I tell our guys, if you lose momentum the next guy has to step up.”

The biggest win down the stretch came from Stephenson, who edged Antonio Amelio, 3-2, with a takedown in the third period. Augustine followed with a 9-4 win over Drew Vlasnik, which set up Makel’s heroics.

“Nate’s win was one that we had to have to make it all work,” Throckmorton said. “We needed an upset and we got one from Nate. That’s what we work so hard for.”

Waynesburg also got pins from Rocco Welsh (126), a forfeit to Wyatt Henson (138), and decisions from Mac Church (106), Ryan Howard (220) and a major decision by Noah Tustin (195).

Seneca Valley, which lost to Kiski Area in last year’s finals, was close to winning its first title.

“The loss isn’t on the final couple wrestlers,” Seneca Valley coach Kevin Wildrick said. “I’m very proud of the guys. We battled. We just had a couple points that didn’t go the right way.”

It was Seneca Valley that rallied to defeat Canon-McMillan, 31-30, in the semifinals. It was down 24-12 and won four of the last five for the thrilling win.

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

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