It’s good to have options.
Just ask Anthony Welsh of Beth-Center.
The sophomore won the 145-pound weight class at the Section 2-AA Tournament at Charleroi High School Saturday night.
If the name seems familiar, it is. You heard it a lot during scholastic football season, when Welsh was piling up huge numbers for the Bulldogs’ football team.
Welsh rushed for 1,336 yards, averaged 10 yards per carry and scored 22 touchdowns, earning him a spot on the Observer-Reporter’s Elite Eleven team. Those numbers are impressive, considering Beth-Center’s offense uses multiple backs, so 1,000-yard rushers are rare.
On the mat, Welsh wrapped up a section title by knocking off top-seeded Austin Mears of Mount Pleasant, 4-2, in the finals.
“I take wrestling more serious than I do football,” said Welsh. “Football is more for fun.”
This is Welsh’s second season of varsity wrestling. Last year, he compiled a 37-14 record, took third place in the section and was a WPIAL runner-up at 138 pounds. Welsh saw his chances to earn a spot in the PIAA Championships dashed when he lost a 2-0 decision to Nick Gavazzi of Charleroi for the fifth and final qualifying spot.
Welsh opened the Section 2 tournament with a pin in 52 seconds over Aran Brubacher of Southmoreland, then followed with a pin in 2:15 of Anthony Ruane of Jeannette. The section title will improve Welsh’s seeding for next weekend’s WPIAL Championships at Chartiers Valley High School.
“I’ve been working a lot with Chris Stay in practice, and with my coaches,” said Welsh. “That has helped me get better.”
Stay, a junior, followed Welsh’s win with a see-saw 10-9 decision over Trevor Kniha of Jefferson-Morgan in the 152-pound final. Like Welsh, Stay also plays football, so he has options, too, for college.
“I’ll have to see what happens,” Welsh said. “Hopefully, I’ll have some choices. It’s better to have choices.”
Make weight, move on
There always are a few weight classes that lack competitors in the early postseason tournaments, but the 113-pound weight class in Section 1 was unusual.
Only three wrestlers weighed in – Austin McDermitt of Burgettstown, Zach Power of Ellwood City and Dustin Henke of Fort Cherry. To advance to the WPIAL Championships, the wrestlers simply needed to make weight, and all three did.
McDermitt received a bye to the finals, where he pinned Henke in 2:29. Power finished third. The two spots that were not filled will impact the brackets for 113 at the WPIAL tournament. What makes this unusual is 113 pounds is normally a weight that has plenty of participants.
In Section 2, only five entries were at both 195 and heavyweight. All five wrestlers advanced in each weight class simply by making weight. Placement is important as the WPIAL has a slotting system for the next event.
Mike Carr of South Fayette remained unbeaten (34-0) after winning at 132 in Section 1. Avella’s Jake Temple stayed perfect at 33-0 by winning at 220. John Demaske of Jefferson-Morgan extended his streak to 34-0 by winning his fourth section title, this one at 126 in Section 2. … Jason Campbell, the lone member of California High School’s wrestling team, took fifth place at 132 in Section 2 and has advanced. Campbell has a 7-9 record. … Section tournaments in Class AAA will be held Saturday at four sites. The WPIAL Class AA Championships begin Friday at Chartiers Valley High School.