HEIDELBERG – The success for Burrell’s wrestling season is composed of one part talent, one part conditioning and one part desire.
It’s the last ingredient – the emotional factor – that helped produce a 34-28 victory over South Fayette in the WPIAL Class AA Team Tournament finals Saturday at Chartiers Valley High School.
Both teams will next wrestle in Hershey Thursday in the first round of the PIAA Team Tournament. South Fayette draws the District 6 champion and Burrell’s opponent is yet to be determined.
Burrell won its eighth consecutive title, a WPIAL record, and ninth overall because two of its unheralded wrestlers won the final bouts of the match. This was the second consecutive season Burrell (12-3) defeated South Fayette (20-1) in the finals. The Lions, whose football team won the WPIAL and PIAA titles, were looking for their first WPIAL wrestling title in school history.
Dillan Jeffrey won by 17-2 technical fall over Jasper Wolfe at 113 pounds, and Jason Roberts knocked off Kevin Chaussard, 7-1, at 120 pounds in the final two bouts. That turned a 28-26 South Fayette lead into a six-point win for the Bucs.
“We lost the close ones,” said South Fayette head coach Rick Chaussard. “If we win the close matches, it’s a different story.”
Andrew John put the Lions in front, 28-26, with a 6-5 decision over Dean Edwards at 106. That left the final two bouts and Burrell had Jeffrey, a freshman with a 17-12 record; and Roberts, a junior who was 7-17; going against Wolfe and Chaussard, who combined for 35 wins this season. Jeffrey had his way with Wolfe, who had the bout stopped because of a shoulder injury; and Roberts broke open a close bout by scoring five points in the final two minutes, including three backpoints at the buzzer.
“We find ways to win,” said Burrell head coach Josh Shields. “Records don’t matter in a match like this.”
Jeffrey was beaten by Wolfe, 9-5, in the Bedford Tournament and turned it around with a tech fall last night. Roberts went through a tough stretch two weeks ago, losing six of seven bouts.
“Burrell has this thing going where we are all like brothers,” Shields said. “We’re a family. We’ve been saying all year that this is not the team that is going to break the streak.”
Burrell jumped out to a 5-0 lead on South Fayette after Anthony Marra started the match with an 18-3 technical fall over Scott Rzepecki at 126. It grew to 17-3 with wins from Damon Greenwald (138), Corey Falleroin (145) and a pin by Steven Edwards (152). Greenwald’s win came over Shane Ging, 4-2, in overtime.
South Fayette grabbed the lead after 106 with a strong effort in the heavier weights. Grant Fetchet pinned Noah Hanna in 2:44 to cut Burrell’s lead to 17-9, J.J. Walker won an 11-3 major decision over Derrick Beattie at 160 to make it 17-13, and Jack Previte pinned Nick Pattock in 3:47 to give the Lions their first lead, 19-17.
“I thought we had a shot at it,” said Chaussard. “We had to win some matches there.”
The lead changed hands four times over the next four bouts. Robert Scherer shut out Rausaun Culberson 5-0 to put Burrell back up 20-19. Zach Walker pinned Corey Arabia in 1:32 at 220 to give the Lions a 25-20 lead and Alan Beattie pinned Bryce Chrystoff in 52 seconds to send the Bucs back up 26-25. John’s win set up the final two crucial matches.
“I wanted us to be aggressive, especially on our feet,” said Chaussard. “We didn’t get aggressive until the heavyweights. But that’s a good Burrell team. We knew this was not going to be a blowout. The close matches were going to decide it, and we lost three of them.”
Now the lions will have to regroup.
“We’ll be all right,” Chaussard said. “We don’t have a choice. We start in Hershey on Thursday.”
Jefferson-Morgan advances: Jefferson-Morgan secured a spot in the PIAA Class AA team tournament with a 45-22 victory over Burgettstown in the WPIAL Class AA third-place match.
The Rockets will travel to Erie Monday night to battle Ft. Lebeouf in a pigtail round dual match.
Burgettstown had a 16-15 lead on the Rockets through six bouts, but Jefferson-Morgan won six of the next seven to put the match away.