BRIDGEVILLE – Nothing shakes up a tournament like an upset in the early round.
Anthony Welsh of Beth-Center was more than happy to provide a jolt to the first night of the WPIAL Class AA Wrestling Championships at Chartiers Valley High School Friday.
Welsh, a freshman, pulled off the shocker in an otherwise ho-hum quarterfinals round when he decisioned second-seeded Steven Edwards of Burrell, 6-4, in the 138-pound weight class. The win, Welsh’s 33rd of the season against 10 losses, advances him to today’s semifinals, which start at 11:30 a.m. Finals are at 7 p.m.
Jefferson-Morgan advanced the most wrestlers into the semifinals, six, followed by Mt. Pleasant and South Fayette with five apiece. West Greene had four.
Section 2 has the most wrestlers in the semifinals with 26, followed by Section 1, with 19, and just 11 for Section 3.
The top seven wrestlers in each weight class advance to the PIAA Southwest Regional Tournament next week at the War Memorial in Johnstown.
Welsh will take on Jason Miller of Jefferson-Morgan, who had to rally to beat Tyler Wentzel of South Park. Miller was tied 5-5 in the third period when he turned and pinned him in 4:27.
“That’s my biggest win of the season,” said Welsh.
Welsh jumped to a 4-0 lead when he dumped Edwards, who came in with a 31-5 record, for a takedown and tilt. Welsh had two escapes in the third period and was taken down twice to account for the rest of the scoring.
“I knew I would have Edwards in the quarters, and I knew it would be a tough match,” said Welsh. “I’ve been preparing for Edwards all week.”
That meant looking at film of his bouts, studying Edwards’ tendencies and preparing a plan of attack.
“I watched his match against Brock Zacherl (of Brookville) in the Powerade tournament,” said Welsh of Edwards’ 9-3 loss in that December event. “I saw that he wasn’t working hard from the bottom. So I thought I might be able to tilt him.”
Nick Gavazzi, the top seed in the weight class with a 30-0 record, pinned Harley Peterson of Laurel in 3:52 in his only bout of the night.
Nolan Wise of Highlands is Gavazzi’s opponent in the semifinals. Miller pinned Derek Bowser of Kittanning in the first round before sticking Wentzel.
The remainder of the evening was without drama. Burrell’s Corey Falleroni, a 152-pound junior, was ineligible because of academics.
Austin McDermitt could be on a collision course with Austin Girffiths of Southmoreland at 106, but the sophomore from Burgettstown has to get past Brendan Howard of Jefferson-Morgan in the semifinals. McDermitt won by 19-2 technical fall over Camden Anderson of Keystone Oaks and pinned Hunter Neely of Bentworth in 1:12 to raise his record to 31-4.
“I’ve been working out two times a day preparing,” said McDermitt. “I’m ready for the last push for states. I was at the high school at 5:30 in the morning and ran on the treadmill.”
McDermitt hopes to beat Howard, then find a way to defeat Griffiths, who has not lost to McDermitt in his last six bouts, including two times this season.
“I’ve been close, but I’m just not there yet,” said McDermitt. “He’s tough on top. He’s so good at what he does. It’s hard to wrestle him. I know what I have to do.”
West Greene’s Trevin Bedilion was the lone fifth-place finisher in the section tournaments to advance to the semifinals. He pinned David Cushey of Fort Cherry in 1:16 to get to the semifinals. Top-seeded Jacob Beistel of Southmoreland is his opponent.
West Greene’s Sheldon Phillips (106) and Avella’s Shawn Carl are two of four wrestlers who placed fourth in the section tournaments to advance to the semifinals.