Whiteside leads hopeful Gateway contingent into section wrestling tourney

Friday, February 14, 2020 | 7:47 PM

Led by senior Evan Whiteside, seven Gateway wrestlers enter the Section 1-AAA tournament Feb. 22 at Kiski Area with medal-winning aspirations.

The 120-pound Whiteside will be joined by Floyd McKenna (152), Oscar Portis (145), Siv Asuresh (126), David Clark (170), Chris Horton (285) and Racari El (182) at sectionals, where they will compete for a spot in the WPIAL championships/PIAA Southwestern regionals Feb. 28-29 at Canon-McMillan.

Whiteside is near peak form.

“Every time he competes, it’s at a high level,” Gateway coach Ryan Shula said. “He is wrestling the best I have ever seen him wrestle in the past four years. From a team perspective, (his teammates) get to see how much work they have to put in if they want to wrestle at a high level.”

Whiteside (25-6) is ranked fourth among WPIAL Class AAA 120-pound wrestlers by Trib HSSN.

In last year’s Section 1-AAA tournament, he lost to Latrobe’s Marino Angelicchio, 11-2, in the third-place match at 113.

Of Whiteside’s 25 victories, 23 were pins.

“I didn’t even think about pinning people this year, I just thought about how I was going to ride people out (during matches),” Whiteside said. “But every time I got somebody on their back, I just didn’t let go.”

The captain is considering his college options, but narrowed his list to Gannon, Pitt-Johnstown and Thiel.

“He’s always competed well from the neutral position, but this year what he has accomplished from the top/bottom position is his transition wrestling,” Sula said of Whiteside. “His ability of going from one move to another, from a takedown to a breakdown, I really think he’s improved that from year’s past.”

Portis, a senior, has a 14-10 record with 11 pins and has wrestled at 145 and 152.

The Gators face a two-week gap between competitions, but it is not stopping them from preparing for what Whiteside said is a tough challenge.

“We’ve been riding a lot more in practice and getting some extra work in as well,” he said. “My go-to practice partner is (seventh-grader) Elijah Lehman. We both kind of lean on each other and want to get better.

“We both push each other to make it to our goals we set for ourselves. Some kids don’t have that mindset. Some run out of the (wrestling room) when practice is over, but he stays and helps me workout after.”

Three freshmen are competing at the section tournament, including McKenna.

McKenna, who has wrestled in two weight classes this year (152 and 160), compiled an 11-16 record with eight pins.

“I think Floyd has a really good chance of making it to WPIALs,” Whiteside said. “He’s always in the room and he pushes himself hard. Every time we wrestles, he never gives up and I think that will get him somewhere.”

Robert Scott III is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.


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