HERSHEY – By the time the final bout of this dual meet was contested, the wrestlers on South Fayette’s sideline seemed resigned to the outcome.
An outstanding season was coming to an end.
The Lions, who set unprecedented standards at the school by winning their first section team title, earning their first trip to the finals of the WPIAL Team Tournament and qualifying for their first PIAA Team Tournament, fell to Saucon Valley, 41-16, in the first round of Class AA consolations in the state tournament and were eliminated.
South Fayette was sent to the consolation round following a 33-26 loss to West Branch in Thursday’s first round of this double-elimination tournament.
“I think we just ran out of gas,” said South Fayette head coach Rick Chaussard.
The Lions finish the dual meet season with a 10-3 record, the other loss coming to Burrell in the WPIAL finals.
It was a disappointing end, especially considering the Lions had higher expectations than an 0-2 finish.
“It gets tougher and tougher in this tournament,” said Chaussard. “I think we looked lethargic, especially (against Saucon Valley).”
The Panthers bolted to a 20-9 lead and never looked back.
Will Jusino started the run with a pin of Shane Ging in 1:38 and Saucon Valley was leading 17-0 before South Fayette got on the board with a 6-0 decision by Jared Walker over Jason Lynch at 160, one of just four bout wins for the Lions.
“We got experience from competing in this so, hopefully, it will become an annual thing,” said Chaussard. “There had to be a first team (from South Fayette competing in this tournament), and these guys had the honor of doing that.”
Mike Fetchet’s pin of Sam Dickey in 43 seconds at 170; Zach Walker’s 1-0 decision over Brandon Blobe at 195; and Jared Cardillo’s 16-4 major decision over Ty Drukenmiller at 113 were the other wins for South Fayette.
“There have been so many positive things this season,” said Chaussard. “The way we strived to win the first section title (in school history). It was really like a family atmosphere. They all supported one another.”
South Fayette has eight seniors on the roster, including one of the team leaders in Mike Fetchet.
“The tank is not empty,” said Chaussard. “We lose a lot of wins out of (seniors) Mike and Seth Carr. Mike has been the heart and soul of this team. We need to find someone to lead the team next year. It’s hard to find sometimes.
“Hopefully, these guys see their potential and understand that we didn’t give them our best shot here. That might put the fire in their bellies next year.”