Usual suspects highlight wrestling tournament field
The WPIAL team wrestling tournament marks its 35th anniversary this week.
Twenty teams are in the Class AAA bracket, which begins tonight with four preliminary round matches at Chartiers Valley. The four winners move on to the first round.
Fifteen teams are in the Class AA bracket, with six-time defending champion Burrell (9-4) receiving a bye in the first round.
The top four seeds in each class will serve as hosts for first round and quarterfinal matches, which will all be held Wednesday.
Three-time defending champion Canon-McMillan (11-0) is the top seed and favorite in the Class AAA bracket. The Big Macs, who have won eight WPIAL titles since the inaugural tournament in 1979, can become the first Class AAA team to win four consecutive titles.
"After winning three straight WPIAL titles, Canon-McMillan has to be considered the favorite," said North Allegheny coach Jamie Kyriazis, whose Tigers lost to the Big Macs in last year's title match. "Unseating them will not be easy."
No. 2 Franklin Regional (16-1), No. 3 North Allegheny (13-2) and No. 4 Connellsville (18-2) round out the top four seeds in Class AAA.
Burrell, the top seed in Class AA, has made 10 consecutive appearances in the title match and won seven of the past eight.
"Burrell has had an impressive run of success," South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard said. "Their teams always fight hard and keep coming at you. It will take an incredible effort to beat them."
South Fayette (7-0) is seeded No. 2 after claiming its first section title. No. 3 Jefferson-Morgan (9-4) and No. 4 Chartiers-Houston (8-6) round out the top four seeds in Class AA.
The quarterfinals in each class also will be held Wednesday. The semifinals in both classes will be held Friday at Chartiers Valley. The championship match and consolation final in each class will be held Saturday at Chartiers Valley.
Connellsville has the distinction of being the only team that has qualified for the WPIAL team tournament every year. The Falcons have made 34 consecutive appearances in the Class AAA tournament, claimed seven titles, finished second six times and have a 72-28 record in WPIAL postseason action.
North Allegheny ranks second with 31 appearances in the Class AAA tournament, including 27 in a row. The Tigers have won five WPIAL titles and have a 37-26 postseason record, but haven't won a title since 1990.
Canon-McMillan is close behind with 30 appearances, including 15 in a row. The Big Macs have a 70-23 postseason record.
Other Class AAA teams that have made 20 or more WPIAL tournament appearances are: Latrobe (24 appearances, 23-22 record), Kiski Area (23, 38-21), Trinity (23, 34-21) and Shaler (20, 12-20). Kiski Area has made 23 consecutive appearances.
In Class AA, Jefferson-Morgan (21, 25-16) and West Greene (21, 21-20) share the lead for most postseason appearances. Jefferson-Morgan has won five WPIAL titles, but none since 1995. West Greene won its only title in 1994.
Burrell has made 20 Class AA appearances and claimed eight titles. The Buccaneers have a 36-12 postseason record.
Last of the unbeatens
And then there were seven
The list of unbeaten WPIAL wrestlers has dwindled to four in Class AA and three in Class AAA, and two are from the same team.
Kiski Area boasts senior Matt McCutcheon (25-0 at 195 pounds) and junior Shane Kuhn (27-0 at 285). McCutcheon, a Penn State recruit, won WPIAL and PIAA titles last year.
North Hills senior Tyler Walker (26-0) is the other undefeated Class AAA wrestler.
Class AA's four unbeaten wrestlers are: Kittanning junior Jason Nolf (28-0 at 132), Charleroi senior Nick Gavazzi (19-0 at 138), Jefferson-Morgan senior Dustin Conti (24-0 at 170) and Burrell senior Dakota DesLauriers (17-0 at 182).
In the past 10 days, North Hills senior Jonathan Avon (20-1 at 160) and South Fayette senior Michael Fetchet (24-1 at 170) fell from the unbeaten ranks.
Avon lost, 11-3, to Latrobe's Zack Zavatsky in a dual meet Jan. 19. Fetchet dropped a 6-4 double-overtime decision to Chestnut Ridge's Tyler Dibert Saturday in the semifinals of the Thomas Subaru tournament in Bedford.
Thomas Subaru results
South Fayette placed third at the Thomas Subaru tournament. The Lions accumulated 180.5 points and had six wrestlers finish in the top four in their weight classes.
Seth Carr claimed the 113-pound title for the Lions with a 6-1 win against Claysburg-Kimmel's Josh Brown. Mike Carr and J.J. Walker were runners-up for South Fayette. Carr was pinned in the 120-pound final by Bedford's Ryan Easter. Walker lost, 3-2, in the 160-pound final to Bryce Fochtman of Berlin-Brothersvalley.
Grant Fetchet (152), Fetchet (170) and Zach Walker (195) placed third for South Fayette.
Jefferson-Morgan placed seventh in the team standings and had five wrestlers place in the top four. Conti moved down to the 170-pound weight class and captured a title for the Rockets with an 8-5 win against Dibert. Brendan Howard was the runner-up at 106 after being pinned by Bedford's Jonathan Gabriel.
John Demaske (126) placed third for Jefferson-Morgan, and Ryan Zalar (145) and Bill Bowlen (160) placed fourth.