Wrestling notebook: Southmoreland wrestler Bret Huffman fights through knee injury to make states

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 | 4:33 PM

Southmoreland senior Bret Huffman wasn’t about to let a knee injury keep him off the mat.

Huffman opted to delay surgery until after the season, and the wait was worth it. Huffman qualified to compete in the state tournament after finishing sixth at the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional.

“It’s been a combination of years of hard work,” Huffman said. “I’ve been working hard and lifting. I tore my ACL during football season, and it’s been really, really tough.

“I’ve met some very tough opponents. I had rest, used ice and as much practice as possible. The biggest thing has been willpower. You have to want it more than anyone else. If you wrestle guys hard enough, eventually they’ll give up.”

Huffman tore the ACL in his left knee against Beth-Center in September and he had a decision — surgery or wrestle through it.

He chose to wrestle.

“I didn’t know if I could do much with it,” Huffman said. “But we rehabbed it and got it to a point where I felt comfortable with it. I got in the room and got to work.

“I got through a few matches and it went pretty well, so I stuck it out. Clearly it paid off.”

Now that he’s qualified for the state tournament March 5 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Huffman can concentrate on wrestling to the best of his ability.

Changes for Class AA

There could be major coming to the way the WPIAL conducts the Class AA team and individual tournaments.

Burrell coach Josh Shields said it looks like the WPIAL will eliminate the individual section tournaments in Class AA and enter everyone in the WPIAL tournament.

“I’d prefer to see the section tournament one weekend, the WPIAL the next and then the regional,” Shields said. “But I’m OK with one tournament.”

One of Shields’ wrestlers, Niko Ferra, wrestled 10 times over a two-day period, including nine times in less than 24 hours.

Other changes considered are reducing the number of teams that qualify for the team tournament and the sites.

“There are a lot of things being considered,” Freedom athletic director John Rosa said. “The wrestling committee has discussed things, but nothing has been finalized. The WPIAL Board of Control has the final say.”

Another change being considered is reducing the weight classes from 14 back to 12.

Kiski Area athletic director John Peterman is not for that change. He said the move to expand to 14 was to promote the sport.

This and that

Frazier senior Thayne Lawrence is on a scoreless streak. Since his return from injury Jan. 22, Lawrence has not allowed an opponent to score a point in 11 consecutive victories. Two weeks ago at the WPIAL tournament, he outscored opponents 43-0 in five matches. Last week at the PIAA Southwest Regional, he outscored his opponents, 32-0. … Mt. Union senior Jake Ryan recorded his 100th career pin at the Southwest Regional. … Injuries kept two returning regional champions from competing — 2018 106-pound champion Conner Redinger of Quaker Valley and 2019 182-pound champion Dayton Pitzer of Mt. Pleasant.

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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