PIAA team wrestling tournament: Burrell decks Montoursville

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Thursday, February 6, 2020 | 8:13 PM


HERSHEY – When Burrell junior A.J. Corrado opened the PIAA Class AA Team Wrestling Championship with an 18-second pin, it was a sure sign of what was to come.

Burrell kicked off the tournament with an impressive 46-21 victory against Montoursville on Thursday at the Giant Center.

The Bucs (11-5) used pins by Corrado (152 pounds), Cole Clark (170), Michael Scherer (285), Nick Salerno (120), Trent Valovchik (126) and Ian Oswalt (132) to hammer the District 4 third-place team. It was only the second loss of the season for the Warriors (23-2).

“We knew they were stronger up top,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said, who wore a mask during the match so he wouldn’t spread the flu. Shields coached the team but tried to stay away from the wrestlers.

“We didn’t give up bonus points, and we picked some up along the way,” Shields added. “If we want to be successful in this tournament, we have to continue to wrestle this way.”

After Corrado’s pin, Montoursville won the next two bouts to grab an 8-6 lead.

That’s when Clark, a sophomore, stepped up and dominated Gavin Livermore, eventually getting the fall in the third period after building a 10-3 lead.

“I went out and battled and tried to pick up bonus points for us,” Clark said. “Being able to wrestle here last year helped. Now I’m starting more and helping the team.”

Montoursville took a 17-12 lead before Scherer’s pin at heavyweight made it 18-17. The Warriors took their final lead when the top-ranked wrestler in the state at 106, Branden Wentzel, recorded a major decision win against Nico Ferra.

That’s when Burrell closed things out, winning the last six bouts and getting consecutive pins from Salerno, Valovchik and Oswalt to clinch the win.

Shawn Szymanski tied the score at 21-21 when he rallied to defeat Cole Johnson, 7-5. Szymanski was trailing 4-2 in the third period when he hit a standing headlock and put Johnson on his back for a five-point move.

Valovchik, who missed the early portion of the season with an injury, got a first-period pin to push the lead to 33-21.

“Our goal was to go out there and get the job done, and we did just that,” Valovchik said. “Now we have to keep it going. I wanted to go out and secure bonus points. That’s something I want to do every match.”

Logan Bechtold (138) and Simon Slahtovsky (145) closed out the run for the Bucs, who face District 11 champion Saucon Valley in the quarterfinals at noon Friday. Saucon Valley defeated District 4 runner-up Line Mountain, 53-18.

“We started out strong with A.J. and got it rolling from there,” Shields said. “When knew we were starting in the strength of their lineup and I was impressed how we did. I was confident from 113 on.

“It only gets tougher from here on out. Hopefully we’ll keep it going. ”

Now Burrell, 33-24, all-time in the state tournament, hopes to keep wrestling at a higher level.

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

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