South Fayette seeking wrestling title
When South Fayette battled Chartiers-Houston for in the Section 1A finale, victory was the sole objective. Not a title.
With a 44-19 triumph, the Lions accomplished both goals.
With the sub-section crown in hand, the Lions are on to their next goal. They want to win the section title outright. This first such banner would also earn South Fayette a top seed in the upcoming WPIAL team tournament.
“Our goal was to win the match (against Char-Houston),” said SF head coach Rick Chaussard, “and we accomplished that. We never talked about winning the section. We just wanted to win. The sub-section was one of our goals.
“I know it’s cliche, but it’s one step at a time for us,” he added.
Now the Lions can make history when they host the Section 1 tournament Jan. 23. Action in all section tournaments commence at 6 p.m. with championship matches to follow at 7:30 p.m.
“To win a section would be a step in the right direction,” said Chaussard. “It would mean a lot to the kids.”
At each of the section tournaments, the first-place finisher from each sub-section wrestles the second-place team from the other sub-section. The two winners face off to determine the section champion. The two losers wrestle for third place. Consolation matches determine the fifth and final participant in the team tournament.
The WPIAL steering committee will meet Jan. 24 to determine seedings for both the Class AA as well as Class AAA tournaments. First-round matches will be held Jan. 28. The WPIAL team championships are set for Feb. 2.
In Class AA, Jefferson Morgan and South Allegheny are hosting the Section 2 and 3 tournaments but the Lions earned that right by derailing the Buccaneers, who had won section crowns in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
The Lions face Ellwood City, the Section 1B runner-up while the Buccaneers battle Section 1B winner Burgettstown.
A performance similar to the one they submitted against Char-Houston would increase the Lions’ odds for success. In their 44-19 victory, they received wins at the expected weights. But, they also enjoyed serendipitous surprises along the way.
Take Jack Previte’s pin at 170 pounds for example. The fall snapped a tight match and vaulted the Lions to an easy win over the Bucs.
Previte trailed David Kincaid, who had recently won the Tri-County Wrestling Classic, 2-0, after two periods, but recovered for the fall with 52 seconds remaining in the match.
“David is such a strong kid,” said CH head coach Bill Sutton. “He comes out of that (headlock) all the time. I wasn’t even worried about it.
“That win took the wind out of our sails.”
Chaussard agreed. “Definitely,” he said. “That was the turning point in the match. We did not expect that. We were hoping at the very least (Kincaid) would get a decision.”
Crucial decisions and more falls came for the Lions after the pivotal pin.
Michael Fetchet recorded a major decision immediately after the fall at 170. After Garrett Vulcano won his match by a major decision at 195 for the Bucs, SF registered three straight falls. Zach Walker, Jason Shields and Jason Wolf provided the pins at 220, heavyweight and 106 pounds.
After Tanner Sutton started the match with a fall at 145, giving the Bucs a quick 6-0 lead, Grant Fetchet won by fall at 152 and J.J.Walker won by decision to push the Lions ahead, 9-6, heading into the pivotal 170-pound match.
Seth and Mike Carr recorded decisions at 120 and 126 to complete the SF’s scoring. Seth’s win was a major.
Ben Hritsko (113), Dylan Briggs (132) and Pete Provenzano (136) finished with decisions for the Bucs.
With the win, the Lions completed Section 1A action with a 5-0 record.
“This was a big step for the program,” said Chaussard. “We are headed in the right direction. Our numbers are up all through the junior high. We hope to continue to grow this program.”
CM tops in AAA
Under Chris Mary, the wrestling program at Canon-McMillan has grown into the best in western Pennsylvania at the Class AAA level.
Despite having as many as eight wrestlers out with the flu and injuries, the Big Macs secured their fourth consecutive title under the format devised five years ago. They smashed rival Trinity, 67-9, on their way to the Section 4-A crown and earned home-mat advantage for this week’s championships.
Canon-McMillan hosts Section 4B runner-up West Allegheny on Jan. 23. McGuffey and Hopewell will battle in the other bout.
The Big Macs, who are the reigning state champions, have won three straight WPIAL team titles. Since the WPIAL started the tournament in 1979, no team has captured four straight crowns. Only North Allegheny has equaled the Big Macs’ feat.
Connellsville hosts the Section 2 tournament. The Falcons faced Mt. Lebanon while Peters Township battles Belle Vernon. For the fifth and final playoff berth, Bethel Park travels to Ringgold for a 7 p.m. match Jan. 23.
Also in Class AA, Keystone Oaks hosts Valley at 7 p.m. Jan. 23 to decide the fifth and final playoff berth.