SF continues dream season
Despite dropping a 35-30 decision to Burrell in the WPIAL Class AA team championships at Chartiers Valley High School Feb. 2, South Fayette’s dream wrestling season continues because the Lions qualified for the PIAA tournament.
The Lions will battle West Branch, the District 6 champion, in the first round of action set for 4 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Giant Center in Hershey.
South Fayette’s appearance in the state tournament is another in a list of firsts for the school’s wrestling program. So far this season, the Lions have won their first section title and reached the finals in the WPIAL team tournament.
The Lions did not however secure their first district title. That honor went to Burrell. The Buccaneers staked their claim to their seventh straight championship with their five-point triumph over South Fayette.
Both coaches noted that experienced proved the difference in the match—a match in which the Bucs have participated for 11 consecutive years.
“They’ve been here and in Hershey for so many years,” said SF head coach Rick Chaussard. “It seems like they were born to be here.”
Burrell coach Bud Sines concurred. “We’ve been here before, and this is South Fayette’s first time,” he said. “When we got a big win, then any doubts you might have come to the surface.”
Doubts surfaced, particularly after the Lions dropped winnable decisions. For example, in the opening match, Mike Carr led Damon Greenwald, 12-4, early in the second stanza of the 126-pound bout. However, the freshman recovered and edged Carr, 16-15.
“That gave them the momentum,” said Chaussard. “We gave up eight points in 30 seconds. Nerves were probably a big part of it.”
Burrell won five of the next six matches. A pin from Grant Fetchet at 145 stopped the Bucs’ run.
In between, Shane Ging suffered a major decision to John Andrejcik at 132, Brandon Keck endured a technical fall to Steven Edwards at 132, J.J. Walker dropped a 5-3 decision to Phillip Marra at 152 and Jack Previte fell to Corey Falleroni, 21-6, at 160.
The Lions dominated the heavier weights. While Michael Fetchet secured a fall at 170 in 76 seconds, Brad Haney won an ultimate tiebreaker decision at 182 and Zach Walker blanked Shane Cornuet, 4-0, for a win at 220.
After Alan Beattie pinned SF’s heavyweight Byrce Christoff and Jason Roberts edged Jasper Wolfe, 3-2, at 106, SF picked up forfeit wins by Kevin Chaussard at 113 and Seth Carr at 120 to close out the match.
While SF’s dream for a WPIAL title turned into a nightmare versus Burrell, the Lions still can make more history says Chaussard.
“I explained to the kids that even though we didn’t accomplish our goal, we can still come home from Hershey with some hardware,” Chaussard. “Some of our kids haven’t had that shot. Some of them will get a chance to see what it’s like to wrestle there.”
In getting there to the WPIAL finals, South Fayette (10-1) dispatched Jefferson-Morgan, 37-23, while Burrell (15-5) dispatched Chartiers-Houston, 37-0.
In Class AA action, South Fayette earned its first berth in a WPIAL team wrestling final when the Lions decisioned Jefferson-Morgan, 37-23. In the other semifinal, No. 1 Burrell defeated Chartiers-Houston, 37-30.
Grant and Mike Fetchet had falls for the Lions as did Zach Walker. Seth Carr recorded a major decision.
Jasper Wolf, Jared Cardillo, Shane Ging and Jared Walker had the other wins for SF.