Waynesburg, Burrell ready to defend crowns at WPIAL team wrestling championships

Friday, February 4, 2022 | 8:01 AM

Can anyone knock the Waynesburg and Burrell wrestling teams off their perch?

Six teams would love that opportunity Saturday as the WPIAL team championships reach their conclusion with semifinal- and final-round action.

It’s put up or shut up time for Latrobe, Canon-McMillan and Connellsville in Class 3A and Burgettstown, Quaker Valley and Mt. Pleasant in Class 2A.

The Class 2A final is at Chartiers-Houston, and the Class 3A final is at Peters Township. Both begin with semifinal action at noon. The finals and third-place matches will follow.

Waynesburg (14-0) is the returning PIAA and WPIAL Class 3A champion. The Raiders also won the WPIAL title in 2020.

They return a solid lineup that includes Ky Szewczyk (113 pounds), Joe Simon (120), Zander Phaturos (126), Mac Church (132), Colton Stoneking (138), Rocco Welsh (172), Eli Mackel (215) and Noah Tustin (285).

The Raiders face Canon-McMillan (11-3) for the third time this season. They already own impressive 55-10 and 37-24 victories over the Big Macs.

Waynesburg easily defeated Thomas Jefferson (61-3) and Norwin (52-10) in the first two rounds Wednesday. Canon-McMillan had solid wins against West Allegheny (45-28) and North Allegheny (43-24).

This is the 16th time Waynesburg has reached the semifinals. The Raiders have won six previous titles, three in Class 2A (1979, 1980 and 1988) and three in Class 3A (1989, 2020 and 2021).

Canon-McMillan is making its 29th trip to the WPIAL semifinals. The Big Macs have won eight WPIAL Class 3A titles (1983, 1985, 1991, 1995, 2010-2013) and reached the finals 17 times.

“I’ve said all year I just want a chance to face them,” Latrobe coach Mark Mears said. “They are very good, but I feel we have a chance to match up well against them. If we face them, there could be some very good matches.”

Latrobe (11-0) must get past Connellsville (17-1) for a second time in a little over a week. The Wildcats defeated the Falcons, 38-19, in the Section 2 finals.

Mears expects another good battle with Connellsville. The Falcons didn’t have Jacob Layton (120) in the first meeting. He returned to help Connellsville defeat Peters Township (56-10) and Kiski Area (42-18). Senior Jared Keslar did not wrestle Wednesday.

Latrobe easily handled Penn-Trafford (41-19) in the opening round and registered six pins in a 39-26 win against an improved Butler team in the quarterfinals.

This is the Wildcats’ 10th trip to the semifinals. They are 0-3 in the finals.

Connellsville, the only school to qualify in every team tournament since it began in 1979, has won seven WPIAL titles and has reached the semifinals 25 times.

Burrell legacy

No team has dominated Class 2A like Burrell.

The Bucs have reached the WPIAL semifinals every year since 2001 and have been in the finals every year since 2003.

They’ve won 15 consecutive titles, 17 overall, and 47 consecutive matches in the playoffs.

Mt. Pleasant, their opponent in the semifinals, is the last team to beat them in the playoffs in 2006.

The Bucs (11-4) rolled into the semifinals by defeating Montour, 57-18, on Wednesday, whereas Mt. Pleasant (12-4) defeated Jefferson-Morgan (51-19) and Beth-Center (37-28) to get a second shot at the Bucs.

“Mt. Pleasant is a very good team,” Burrell coach Josh Shields said after his team defeated the Vikings, 43-25, in the Section 3 finals. “I like our chances against anyone. There are a lot of good teams in Class 2A and there is going to be some great battles.”

Mt. Pleasant coach Zach Snyder said it will take a supreme effort to beat Burrell.

“We’ll have to win a few key matches,” Snyder said. “The heavyweight match that we lost was key.”

Greg Shaulis (132) missed the first meeting against Burrell.

This is the 11th time the Vikings have reached the semifinals.

The other semifinal match could be a war between Burgettstown (12-0) and Quaker Valley (15-3). Both are wrestling well and have outstanding wrestlers.

Burgettstown is 0-2 in the finals, losing to Burrell the past two seasons. Quaker Valley, a young program, has reached the semifinals the past three seasons.

The Blue Devils defeated Southmoreland, 60-9, in the quarterfinals and Quaker Valley toppled Laurel, 48-26.

Burgettstown is led by Parker Sentipal (113), Gaven Suica (126) and D.J. Slovick (172), all PIAA qualifiers.

Quaker Valley is led by Jack Kazalas (113), Mike Carmody (132) and Patrick Cutchember (189).

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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