Valley heavyweight Schuffert among 3 A-K Valley wrestlers to reach PIAA Class AA quarterfinals

Thursday, March 8, 2018 | 4:39 PM

HERSHEY — A PIAA official briefly stopped David Schuffert on Thursday morning because he wasn't wearing the pass around his neck he needed to access the Giant Center mats for warmups.

The Valley junior is experiencing the unique circumstances of the state wrestling tournament for the first time, but he's getting used to it quickly.

Schuffert advanced to the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals at 285 pounds, posting a 5-2 decision over Brookville's Colby Whitehill in their first-round match Thursday, one of three Alle-Kiski Valley wrestlers to make it through the first day of competition unscathed. Burrell freshman Ian Oswalt (113 pounds) and senior Corey Christie (152) also made it through to the quarterfinals.

“States is bigger than any other (tournament),” Schuffert said. “This is the biggest thing you can do, so you have to wrestle smart.”

Earlier in the season, Schuffert struggled with his aggressiveness in championship atmospheres, losing in the finals of a pair of early-season tournaments.

That's troubling him much less these days, after a second-place finish at the WPIAL championships and a third-place finish at PIAA Southwest Regional.

“I'm just wrestling day by day, wrestling how I wrestle,” Schuffert said. “I'm changing, so it feels great.”

Schuffert will need that mentality for his semifinal matchup Friday morning against top-seeded Danny Scheib of Tri-Valley, who carries a 35-0 record into the quarterfinals.

“I can't wait for that match,” Schuffert said. “I'm the underdog. (Hopefully I can) shock this whole arena.”

Technically, Christie was the underdog going into his first-round match against Kane's Alec English, even if he didn't see it that way.

Making his first appearance at the PIAA individual championships, Christie needed a preliminary-round victory over Bermudian Springs' Darren Beall to make it to the bout against English, the No. 4 seed. But the Burrell senior stayed aggressive, getting a first-period takedown to take control early for a 7-3 victory.

“We have a really tough region, so coach Josh (Shields) always says you can't really look at their placing,” Christie said. “Our region's really tough compared to the other ones, and (English) was a regional champ. It's all about who wants it more in the end.”

Christie also took Shields' advice by staying on the attack in both of his matches.

“You can't score points if you don't attack, so that's why I'm always on the attack,” Christie said. “The best defense is a good offense.”

Oswalt is looking to improve his offensive performance after a 6-2 decision over Warrior Run's Noah Hunt in the 113-pound first round.

Burrell had two of the WPIAL's 16 Class AA quarterfinalists, joining Derry, South Side Beaver and Southmoreland on that list. The Bucs also have a pair of wrestlers still alive in the consolation bracket, as freshman A.J. Corrado (132 pounds) and senior Shaun Gates (160) won their first-round consolation matches Thursday afternoon.

The PIAA Class AA tournament resumes at 9 a.m. Friday with quarterfinals and second-round consolations, with third-round consolations at 11:45 a.m. and the semifinals at 7:30 p.m.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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