HERSHEY – South Fayette head coach Rick Chaussard doesn’t make excuses for setbacks, but you almost understand his team going 2-and-out in the state team tournament.
The Lions didn’t look sharp. At times, you could even say they looked lethargic and had little left in the tank to put up a fight.
That was evident Friday morning. The Lions had an early-morning consolation tee time at Giant Center and took a quick exit out of the PIAA Class AA Team Wrestling Championships, thanks to a 47-24 beating at the hands of Saucon Valley.
“I don’t think we were any more focused than we were yesterday,” Chaussard said. “I think the compact season finally caught up with us.
“Because of football, we had 13 dual meets from Jan. 4 to Jan. 11. I’m not into excuses, but to me, it looked this group wore down.”
The morning didn’t start well. Some of the Lions wrestlers got stuck in an elevator at the hotel, and the match was delayed 15 minutes.
It also didn’t help that the Panthers started in their wheelhouse at 126 and put the Lions on their heels by rattling of five straight wins for a quick 25-0 lead.
Jasper Wolfe was the first Lions wrestler to break through. He scored a 4-0 decision over Jarred Kyra at 113 to cut the deficit to 25-3.
But the Panthers added another two wins – both were worth bonus points – to increase the advantage to 32 points. Michael Carr, finally, ended the carnage with a 10-1 major over Dylan Yonney at 132.
“For us, we liked the starting weight because if we had a chance later, we had our best kids coming up.” Chaussard said. “We didn’t think it was an issue.
“But when you fall behind by a lot, it’s tough to make up, especially in a tournament like this.”
The Lions finished strong. Brett Beltz (152) won by technical fall, and Grant Fetchet (160) by fall over Devin Fontenez. Jared Walker received a forfeit at 170.
But it wasn’t enough. Not for a Lions team that didn’t have a full practice until Dec. 18 and had to deal with postponements.
“If you factor in everything, the late start – we only had eight kids at practice – we had a successful run,” Chaussard said. “But we want to build a tradition, and we can’t be satisfied just being here.”