All in the family for the Havelkas
For a few brief moments during Wednesday night's wrestling match, they made eye contact. Both of them knew this was a unique situation.
Terry Havelka, the head coach of Burgettstown High School, was sitting in one corner and his son, Jeff, was on the opposite side, trying to coax his Chartiers-Houston wrestlers to another improbable win. … against his dad's team.
Father coaching against son.
These scenarios don't play out often in sports, so the fans inside Burgettstown High School witnessed a small piece of history.
The father got the victory over the son, 42-26, to send Burgettstown into tonight's semifinal dual meet against seven-time defending champion Burrell at Norwin High School.
As wrestlers from Burgettstown and Chartiers-Houston crossed the mat for the postmatch handshake, Terry and Jeff Havelka finally got to exchange pleasantries. They hugged.
“I'm very proud of him,” said Terry Havelka. “I don't know if I could describe it.”
Terry Havelka has been head coach at Burgettstown for 20 seasons and has a record of 220-91-0. Jeff Havelka was hired at Chartiers-Houston after Bill Sutton resigned over the summer and has led the Bucs to a 6-9 mark. Jeff Havelka wrestled under his father before heading to Findlay, where he wrestled for five seasons. Jeff Havelka spent two seasons as assistant at Waynesburg University and one at C-H.
Chartiers-Houston reached the quarterfinals with a thrilling 37-34 upset of Derry.
“It was really cool and really fun,” Jeff Havelka said of coaching against his father. “We had a great first match for us against Derry. Obviously, it was in the back of my head. My dad coaches there, my uncle (Gary) is the junior high coach and their assistants, Joey and Lou Vigliotti, are good friends. But my assistant coach (Garrett Johnston) and I looked at it … as just another match.”
When it was over, Jeff Havelka had some choice words for his father.
“I told him,” he said with a laugh, “that we took it easy on him.”
When South Fayette and Jefferson-Morgan meet in the semifinals of the WPIAL Class AA Team Tournament at 7:30 p.m. today at Norwin, the matchup will be like a Who's Who of local high school wrestling.
The Lions, who are the Observer-Reporter's top-ranked Class AA team, have a solid lineup with three wrestlers rated in the top three in their respective weight classes in the WPIAL. Mike Carr is second at 132, Grant Fetchet is second at 138 and J.J. Walker is first at 160.
Interestingly, the Rockets, the Observer-Reporter's No. 2-ranked team, have six wrestlers in the individual rankings.
Brendan Howard (113), John Demaske (132) and Bill Bowden (170) are each ranked first in their respective weight classes. Jason Miller (138), Ryan Zalar (160) and Ian Wolfe (Hvy) are ranked either second or third.
Not to be outdone, the other matchup in Class AA, Burgettstown against seven-time defending champion Burrell, will feature seven wrestlers ranked in the top three in Class AA.
Anthony Marra (second at 126), Damon Greenwald (third at 138), Corey Falleroni (third at 145), Steven Edwards (third at 152), and Alan Beattie (first at Hvy) are ranked for Burrell. Austin McDermitt (third at 113) and Jake McKee (third at 160) are Burgettstown's ranked wrestlers.
“I can promise you this,” said Terry Havelka. “We'll be there on time, and we'll make weight.”
All of those highly touted wrestlers, many of whom are in the same weight class, will make for some interesting chess matches for the coaches when trying to get the right matchups.
Even though they didn't wrestle in a dual meet this season, South Fayette, Jefferson-Morgan and Burrell competed in the Bedford Tournament last weekend and got a good look at each other.
“(South Fayette) saw us at Bedford, and they filmed every one of our kids up there,” said Jefferson-Morgan head coach Mike Lesko. “I said, 'Do you have student release forms for that?' (South Fayette head coach Rick) Chaussard and I joke around all the time. ... We saw them and they saw us. They have some extra moves they can make (in the lineup). Hopefully, we win the flip.
“Those moves that they have, we have to decide if we can counter them, or do we just go head-to-head. Hopefully, it works out for us at the lower weights.”
South Fayette is chasing the first WPIAL Team tournament title in the school's history.
“It's going to be a good match,” said Chaussard. “It will take an A-plus effort to get to the finals.”
Another big match
In the Class AAA semifinals, top-ranked Franklin Regional and No. 4 North Allegheny wrestle at 6 p.m. and Canon-McMillan takes on Latrobe at 7:30 p.m.
The winners of these bouts qualify for the PIAA Team Tournament and will wrestle next at the Giant Center in Hershey next week. The losers wrestle for third place. The same format exists in Class AA.
The third-place finisher in Class AAA wrestles at the City League champion Monday then gets the District 3 champion Thursday in Hershey if successful.
The third-place finisher in Class AA travels to the District 10 runner-up, then the District 4 champ at the Giant Center Thursday if successful.
The Class AA runner-up draws the District 6 champion in the first round. The District 4 champion awaits the Class AAA runner-up.
Canon-McMillan is the four-time defending champion in District 7 and has won the past two PIAA Team Tournament titles.