Quaker Valley captures 1st WPIAL Class 2A title, snaps Burrell’s 15-year streak

Saturday, February 5, 2022 | 6:00 PM

Burrell’s remarkable reign atop the Class 2A wrestling mountain is over.

Quaker Valley, a school in just its fifth year of wrestling, defeated the Bucs, 30-28, on Saturday in the WPIAL Class 2A championship match at Chartiers-Houston High School.

Justin Richey recorded a pin at 152 pounds in the final bout to end Burrell’s 15-year streak of championships.

“This is what we’ve been working for ever since we started the program five years ago,” Richey said. “To finally accomplish it is amazing. We talk about Burrell every single day. That’s the goal: to beat the streak.”

Burrell (12-5) will move into the PIAA playoffs Thursday in Hershey against District 3 champion Bishop McDevitt.

Shawn Szymanski had put the Bucs ahead 28-24 with a 5-3 decision over Jack Diemert at 145. Early on, Diemert suffered an ankle injury. Had Diemart not been able to continue, Burrell would have won on an injury default, and Richey’s victory over Stephen Hasson would have been inconsequential.

The Quakers (16-4) also will wrestle Thursday against the winner of Monday’s match between District 11 runner-up Saucon Valley and Canton, the third-place team from District 4.

The championship was won in what Quaker Valley coach Mike Heinl said will be his final season at the helm.

“The boosters created this and paved the way for us,” Heinl said. “They did it correctly. They started with the youth. They went to the junior high, then the high school team. I was just blessed to have the opportunity to coach with the Quaker Valley School District. The administrators have given us all the tools to be successful. I couldn’t be happier.”

Burrell won seven bouts to Quaker Valley’s six, but four pins helped to make the difference for the Quakers.

Burrell coach Josh Shields spoke to his team as a WPIAL runner-up for the first time.

“Honestly, we just ran out of time,” Shields said. “From where we started back in October, this team made a tremendous amount of progress throughout the entire year. The kids did everything they could to put ourselves in this position to win a WPIAL title. We never gave up that fight. We just ran out of time to get better. In a match like this, it always comes down to bonus points.”

Burrell had won 48 consecutive WPIAL playoff matches after defeating Mt. Pleasant, 33-24, in the semifinals.

Also in the semifinals, Quaker Valley knocked off previously undefeated Burgettstown, 36-35, in what some considered a surprise. Shields, however, wasn’t surprised.

“I thought all year Quaker Valley was the second-best team next to mine,” Shields said. “They’ve been a very talented team throughout. They got some new guys in this year, and they showed up and battled. I thought we put ourselves in a good position to win the match.”

Burrell got off to a good start at 160 pounds with Nico Zanella defeating West Point-bound Will Campbell, 3-1. Burrell’s Damian Barr then moved up to 172 and came away with a big win over Mason Diemert, who came in with a 26-3 record.

Top-ranked Pat Cutchember, in a marquee matchup with Burrell’s Cole Clark at 215, scored a pin with just 13 seconds left in the bout after he had gained an insurmountable lead.

“We were in a position to win, give up one of two less falls or win one more match down the stretch,” Shields said.

Heinl said: “We knew we were walking in the gym today, and we were winning. There was no scenario where we’d have lost. Our coaching staff went hours upon hours of matchups, and at no time did our matchups show us losing. Hats off to Burrell, an amazing organization. They just lost a family member in the wrestling community, Shawn DesLauriers, who died. He was a friend of mine. I met him in 1975. I feel honored that we could go out and square off with them.”

Burgettstown (13-1) defeated Mt. Pleasant (12-6) in the consolation match and will be the WPIAL’s No. 3 team in the state tournament.

Watch a video stream archive of the championship match on Trib HSSN.

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