Wrestling notebook: WPIAL teams navigated unusual season

Wednesday, March 10, 2021 | 8:28 PM

Friday and Saturday will mark the end of a strange high school wrestling season for many area wrestlers.

Thank the coronavirus pandemic for that.

It was a year ago when Gov. Tom Wolf closed down the state because of the pandemic, and subsequently high school sports across the commonwealth were shut down.

The PIAA wrestling tournament was completed and champions were crowned before the shutdown. Swimming and basketball championships weren’t as fortunate. Neither were spring sports seasons.

“I’m thankful we’ve been able to compete this season,” Hempfield senior heavyweight Isaiah Vance said. “We’ve had to endure a lot, but we’re wrestlers and we can handle difficult situations.”

While many wrestlers got to compete, injuries and covid-protocols denied some wrestlers, notably those from Fort Cherry and West Mifflin,from competing in postseason tournaments.

“I’m just happy we were able to finish,” Hempfield coach Vince DeAugustine said. “It took a great effort from everyone to get this done.”

The PIAA team wrestling tournament, which is usually held before the individual postseason begins in February, was moved to March 22-27, at Cumberland Valley.

Waynesburg and Burrell will represent the WPIAL in Class AAA and AA, respectively.

WPIAL Class AAA rules

There is always a debate about which of the PIAA districts is the strongest. Judging by this week’s PIAA Class AAA qualifiers, the WPIAL remains the group to beat.

After the two Super Region tournaments were held March 6, the WPIAL will send a state-leading 29 wrestlers to Saturday’s PIAA tournament in Hershey. Any wrestlers who advanced to Hershey earned all-state honors.

District 1 (Philadelphia suburbs), the largest district in the state, followed with 23, and District 11 (Allentown area) was next with 20. District 3 (Harrisburg) was fourth with 11.

Injury update

Norwin senior John Altieri was hurt when slammed by Waynesburg senior Wyatt Henson at the West Super Region tournament finals Saturday, but will be able to compete in Hershey. Altieri was awarded first-place at 145 pounds when Henson was disqualified for the maneuver.

• The news was a lot different for Connellsville senior Mason Prinkey, who was injured in the WPIAL third-place match Feb. 27.

According to Connellsville coach Mike Yancosky, Prinkey, a 2020 PIAA qualifier, sustained a fractured vertabrae in his neck in his match against North Allegheny’s Nick Gorman. Prinkey is recovering well and has returned to school.

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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