Undefeated Hempfield wrestling pulls out of WPIAL team postseason
Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 1:08 PM
The Hempfield wrestling team has elected to not participate in the Section 2-AAA team tournament next week and, therefore, will not be eligible for the WPIAL team tournament.
Coach Vince DeAugustine said the undefeated Spartans have chosen to pull out of the team postseason out of concerns with covid-19. The program doesn’t have any covid cases, but there were concerns of potentially contracting the virus during the team tournament, which would then force the program to shut down and miss the individual portion of the postseason.
“We looked at the pros and cons of entering the team tournament, and we felt that it was in our best interest to not send our student-athletes,” DeAugustine said. “An exposure this late in the season could potentially shut down our team for the individual tournaments.
“Travel and potential contact played a big role in this decision. While we recognize that we can be exposed at any time, the coaching staff and wrestlers felt that the bad outweighed the good in this situation.”
DeAugustine said the coaching staff and team met Wednesday and agreed this was the proper decision. They then presented it to athletic director Brandon Rapp and superintendent Tammy Wolicki, who agreed with the decision.
“Brandon and Dr. Wolicki supported the decision,” DeAugustine said. “We look forward to getting back to the team championship next season.”
Hempfield won the 2020 Section 1 title by defeating Kiski Area.
No. 3-ranked Hempfield (9-0 overall) finished 4-0 in Section 2B with wins over Norwin, Latrobe, Greensburg Salem and McKeesport.
WPIAL wrestling committee chairman Frank Vulcano Jr. said WPIAL officials reached out to other teams in the section about replacing Hempfield, but none wanted to enter.
“Obviously, we would have preferred Hempfield would have stayed in because we want the best teams in the tournament,” Vulcano said. “But we have to move on.”
Thomas Jefferson will receive a bye in the opening round of the Section 2 tournament, set for Monday at TJ. Norwin and Connellsville will meet in the other match at 6 p.m. The winner will face the Jaguars for the Section 2 title at 7:30.
Knoch (4-1, 3-1) had to pull out of the Section 3-AA tournament earlier this week because the team is in quarantine until Feb. 11. Valley, which finished 2-2 in Section 3A, stepped in to replace the Knights in the field.
Vulcano said Burrell asked for that section’s tournament to be moved to Valley so more fans could attend. Valley’s gymnasium holds more than 1,500 people.
The two finalists in each section will advance to the WPIAL team tournament, which will begin Wednesday with semifinal matches. There will be a six-team bracket in Class AA and eight-team bracket in Class AAA.
The WPIAL team championships are scheduled for Feb. 13.
The WPIAL individual postseason will begin Feb. 16-18 with the subsection tournaments, followed by the section championships Feb. 19-20 and the WPIAL championships Feb. 20 (Class AA) and Feb. 27 (Class AAA). The WPIAL championships for both classes will be held at Canon-McMillan.
The Class AA Southwest Regionals will be Feb. 27 at IUP. The West Super Regionals will be held for Class AAA and AA on March 6, followed by the PIAA championships March 12-13 in Hershey.
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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