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Wrestling: Belle Vernon wins Escape the Rock Tournament

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Below are results of the Escape the Rock Tournament, held at Council Rock South High School Jan. 15-16. Belle Vernon dominated the two-day tournament. The Leopards had two champions: Jarod Verkleeren (145) and Austin Bell (170). Mitchell Hartman (160) placed second for the Leopards. Kiski Prep's Eric Hong (145) placed second.

TEAM STANDINGS
1. Belle Vernon 221.5, 2. Boyertown 156.5, 3. Council Rock South 151, 4. Malvern Prep 149, 5. Cumberland Valley 135.5, 6. Parkland 128, 7. Northampton 113.5, 8. Bethlehem Liberty 104, 9. Huntingdon 94, 10. Don Bosco Prep 91.5, 11. Stroudsburg 87.5, 12. Pennridge 83, 13. Southern Regional 73, 14. Paulsboro 70.5, 15. Big Spring 69.5, 16. Colonial Forge 67, 17. Solanco 66, 18. Southern Columbia 63.5, 19. St. Paul`s 61.5, 20. Chambersburg 59.5

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Wrestling: Austin Bell answering the bell for Belle Vernon

Written by Ken Wunderley on .

Ken Wunderley profiles Belle Vernon wrestler Austin Bell. Read his story below.

2016 0108 BelleVernon Wrestling(Photo: Belle Vernon's Austin Bell is having a lot of fun on the mat so far this season. Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

Austin Bell made a return trip to the finals of the Powerade Christmas Tournament last week at Canon-McMillan, but this time he came home with a gold medal.

Bell, a senior at Belle Vernon Area High School, claimed the 170-pound title with a 5-4 come-from-behind victory against Bethel Park's Nino Bonaccorsi.

"It was different to be in the last match," said Bell, referring to the fact that tournament officials started the finals at 182 pounds, leaving the 170-pound bout as the finale. "They wanted two local boys and both of us are going to Pitt. It was a little more pressure to be in the feature match, but I enjoyed it."

Bell's win also had special significance in the history of Belle Vernon wrestling, as it gave him a 134-11 career record, breaking the mark previously held by 2008 graduate Donnie Tasser (133-20).

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Football: Outstanding season ends for Belle Vernon

Written by Keith Barnes on .

Keith Barnes profiles the Belle Vernon football team.

"There were a lot of firsts for the Belle Vernon football team this season.

It was the debut of the Leopards' newly installed gold turf field, they finished the regular season undefeated for the first time in 15 years and won their first postseason game since that 2000 campaign when they lost to West Allegheny in the last WPIAL Class AAA championship game played at Three Rivers Stadium.

In the end, though, a season of firsts ended the same way it did a year ago ... with a loss to Franklin Regional in the WPIAL playoffs.

"I think the team exceeded a lot of their expectations even though I knew that we had a chance to be pretty competitive this year," Belle Vernon second-year coach Mark Humbert said. "I don't think I forecast an undefeated regular season, but I did think that we'd compete for a conference championship and I think that, at any level, to go undefeated in the regular season is such a tough thing to do.""

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Football: Belle Vernon wins first playoff game since 2000

Written by Brad Everett on .

One of the top teams in Class AAA rolled to first-round playoff win.

What made Belle Vernon's 36-7 victory against visiting Chartiers Valley particularly special was that it was the Leopards' first playoff win in 15 years.

In the first postseason game played on the gold turf at James Weir Stadium, Belle Vernon exited a playoff winner for the first time since defeating Hampton, 39-8, in a 2000 quarterfinal. Since then, the Leopards had dropped 13 consecutive playoff games, losing in the first round each of the last six seasons.

Derek Verkleeren was one of the stars against Chartiers Valley, returning a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown after the Colts scored their only touchdown, and later scoring on a 5-yard reception from Mike Fine, who also rushed for a pair of scores.

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Girls Soccer: Belle Vernon sees gold

Written by Nicholas Tolomeo on .

Nicholas Tolomeo profiles the Belle Vernon girls soccer team.

"Belle Vernon debuted its gold turf this season and the girls soccer team made sure the regular season ended with gold as well.

The Leopards captured the Class AA Section 4 title, but it was not easy.

Ideally every section season would end like last year when Belle Vernon won out in Section 4, finishing 12-0 and winning the section title outright by three games.

Belle Vernon coach Paul Sasko hardly has any complaints about the way this season played out. His team won another section title outright but it had to play its best soccer until the very end of the section slate to ensure that."