HOUSTON – If this bout had occurred at the end of the season, maybe Boe Bonzo might have changed his plan of attack.
Suppose a spot in the PIAA Championships were on the line, then maybe the senior from Freedom doesn’t attempt this move.
If Bonzo had not lost three consecutive times to this opponent, Tanner Sutton of Chartiers-Houston, last season, maybe he goes a little more conservative.
That was the situation Saturday afternoon in the 152-pound finals of the Chartiers-Houston Wrestling Tournament.
After fighting back from a 5-0 deficit midway through the match to tie the score 5-5 in the final 20 seconds, Bonzo tried a tilt and Sutton countered, reversed him for a 7-5 lead and ended up with a 7-6 victory and the place reserved at the top of the awards’ stand.
“He’s just trying to win the match,” said Sutton, who missed last year’s tournament and the first month of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. “He was going for the tilt and just slipped off it.”
Bonzo said he was thinking more about not going to overtime than making a bold move that would have left the pro-Chartiers-Houston crowd in the gym amazed.
“I was just thinking about getting it over with now,” said Bonzo, who like Sutton was a state qualifier last year with a 39-9 record. “The tilt worked in the past. I tried earlier in the match and almost had it.”
The Sutton-Bonzo match was one of the highlights of the tournament, which was won by Butler with 185.5 points. That was one half point better than South Fayette and five more than third-place Peters Township. The Bucs were fourth at 175 and North Hills fifth at 138.
Sutton built a 5-0 lead midway through the bout with aggressive leg attacks and some funk moves, but Bonzo hit a three-point move with 52 seconds left in the second period. He reversed Sutton with 52 seconds left to tie it, 5-5.
“I got lazy off the whistle and before I knew it, it was 5-3,” said Sutton. “This wasn’t a bad beginning of the season, considering I didn’t have a beginning of a season last year.”
Bonzo was one of two defending champions to lose in the finals. The other was Alen Turcinhodzic of North Hills, who was beaten by another defending champion, Chartiers-Houston’s Garrett Vulcano, at 195 pounds. Vulcano escaped in the second overtime period after riding Turcinhodzic, who finished 36-5 last season, through the first overtime period.
“He’s a pretty strong kid,” said Vulcano. “It’s like our wrestling coach in the room, Scotty Bard. He’s pretty big. It’s always nice to win your own tournament.”
Peters Township also had two winners, Ty Buckiso at 132 and Italo Merante at 138. Buckiso took a 12-5 decision from Drew Walker of North Hills and Merante a 5-4 victory over Jake Wentzel of South Park. The two juniors each captured their first title in this tournament. To reach the finals, Buckiso beat Cory Wilding of Upper St. Clair, 13-5.
“I wrestled Corey four times last year, and I wrestled (Walker) a lot in practice,” said Buckiso, who finished fourth in last year’s tournament. “I made stats as a freshman, but went 1-2 in last year’s WPIAL tournament. I want to get that monkey off my back.”
South Fayette’s Seth Carr was the first area wrestler to win a weight when he stopped Phil Mary of Peters township 9-1. Mary defeated Beth-Center’s Zach Swarrow, 2-1, in the semifinals and Swarrow defaulted out of the third-place bout because of a knee injury.
Charleroi’s Nick Gavazzi followed the two Peters township victories with a dominating 14-5 major decision over Avella’s Nick Kusick. Mike Fetchet of South Fayette won the 170-pound title and Avella’s Jake Temple pinned his way to the 220-pound title.
Austin Griffiths (106) of Southmoreland and Tyler Walker (126) of North Hills also successfully defended their titles.