Quartet of WPIAL wrestlers reach PIAA Class AA finals in upper weight classes
Friday, March 12, 2021 | 4:11 PM
HERSHEY — Burrell senior A.J. Corrado became the third wrestler from his school to reach the finals at the 2021 PIAA Class AA wrestling championship Friday at the Giant Center.
“We’ve been saying all year that we all were capable of winning the state title,” Corrado said after his 3-1 victory against Hamburg’s Bailey Gimbor. “Once you get to this level, all the matches are going to be tentative. I kind of shutdown at the end and that shouldn’t have happened.”
Corrado (33-0) will face Midd West’s Avery Bassett in the finals, which begin at 8 p.m. It’s a return trip to the finals for Corrado, who lost 3-2 to St. Joseph Academy’s Caleb Dowling in 2020.
“I’m still excited. I’m excited as much this year as I was last year,” Corrado said. “My back is against the wall because this is my last chance at being a state champion. I feel nothing can stop me at this point.”
Other WPIAL wrestlers in the upper weights (145-285 pounds) to reach the finals are Laurel sophomore Grant MacKay (152), Frazier freshman Rune Lawrence (172) and Mt. Pleasant junior Dayton Pitzer (215), who will be attempting to win his second title. His other title came in 2019.
Pitzer (41-2) reached the finals with a pin in the quarterfinals, his 31st, and a 12-0 win in the semifinals against Tamaqua’s Nate Wickersham. He’ll face Montoursville senior Dylan Bennett, who he defeated 6-1 at the Powerade Tournament, in the finals.
“I was happy with the way I wrestled in my first match, but there were a few things I didn’t do well in the semifinals,” Pitzer said. “The kid was tough and he had good hips. There are things I need to do better in the finals.”
Lawrence advanced to the finals with a 1-0 victory against Palisades’ Ben Haubert. He’ll face Penns Valley senior Malachi Duvall in the finals. He rallied twice the previous two weeks to defeat Duvall.
Frazier coach Buck Watkins said Lawrence has been battling a sour stomach during the tournament.
Lawrence would not use his stomach as an excuse. His brother, Thayne Lawrence, was a three-time PIAA finalist and champion in 2018 and ‘19.
“I was all right. It wasn’t really good wrestling on my part,” Lawrence said. “I’m there. Whatever happes, happens.”
MacKay had a workman like 4-2 victory against Boiling Springs’ Michael Duggan. He’ll face Hamburg’s Dalton Gimbor in the finals.
The only WPIAL wrestler to fall in the semifinals was Freedom senior Trent Schultheis, who dropped a 10-4 decision to Montoursville’s Ethan Finch.
In the consolations, Blackhawk senior Kenny Duschek (145), McGuffey’s Ethan Barr (172) and Knoch’s Eli Reese (215) collected wins, while Carlynton’s Oleg Melnyk lost and is wrestling for seventh place.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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