Waynesburg’s 2nd-place finish at PIAA team wrestling start of something big

Saturday, February 8, 2020 | 6:56 PM

HERSHEY — The path to the PIAA Class AAA team wrestling championship next year could run through Greene County.

Waynesburg showed it should be the team to beat in 2021 after its second-place finish Saturday at the Giant Center.

In the final, the Raiders lost 38-21 to Nazareth, the District 11 champion and the state’s top-ranked team.

Waynesburg did not start a senior.

“The talk after the match was how young we are,” Waynesburg coach Joe Throckmorton said. “But these kids have been in pressure situations before. It was obviously a learning experience for us.”

Nazareth won eight of 14 bouts and picked up bonus points in five bouts.

Waynesburg won six bouts but only freshman Rocco Welsh managed a major decision win and junior Wyatt Henson earned a technical fall.

“I’m so proud of them and as you know we don’t have any seniors in the starting lineup,” Throckmorton said. “This was a learning experience by making the finals.

“We’re so excited about what we’ve done so far this season. We have individuals coming up. We’re so excited about next year. It will make us drive so much harder because we were that close to winning a state title. That’s what their goal is already for next year.”

The three-day event was an eye-opening experience for Waynesburg freshmen Mac Church (106 pounds), Nate Jones (113), Rocco Welsh (126) and Eli Makel (170). They turned in strong performances.

“This team continues to work hard and keep on getting better,” Throckmorton said, “Everyone considers us a young team, but man, do they have experience. There was pressure up here, and they learned from it.”

Seneca Valley was within a victory of finishing in the top four. The Raiders opened the day by defeating District 1 champion Spring Ford, 34-27, but lost to Bethlehem Catholic, 33-31, in the consolation semifinals.

“We had different guys step up out here,” Wildrick said. “We had a chance to get a lot of guys in the lineup. We had guys get bonus points and not give up bonus points. It was a great effort.”

Seneca Valley graduates 10 wrestlers, he Wildrick hopes this experience pays off in the future.

“Hopefully the hurt from the last loss will motivate them and work hard,” Wildrick said.

Canon-McMillan made it to Saturday, but an injury on Friday kept senior Jimmy Baxter out of the lineup.

The result was a 29-26 loss to Erie Prep.

The Big Macs went 2-2 in the tournament will lose Gerrit Nijenhuis, Jacob Gardner, Baxter, Tanner Rohaley, Blake Joseph and Evan Miller to graduation.

In Class AA, Burrell finished a win from their goal.

Bucs coach Josh Shields said he was hoping for a top-four finish. They settled for fifth for the second consecutive season.

Burrell defeated Hamburg, 35-29, to start the day and lost to third-place finisher Chestnut Ridge, 44-10, in its second match.

Burrell has won 14 consecutive WPIAL Class AA titles but only one state title (2008) during that span.

“I want to put medals around your necks,” Shields told his wrestlers. “I’m tired of coming up short.”

District 5 champion Chestnut Ridge won the toss and then won the first eight matches.

“We knew the match would be an uphill battle,” Shields said. “We moved some guys and tried to find seven wins. Sometimes moves don’t go your way. We were in position. We lost the first bout in overtime, and we lost the coin flip. Chestnut Ridge is a very good team. They put it to us earlier in the year.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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