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Blairsville wrestlers rely on teamwork

BLAIRSVILLE--Blairsville's wrestling team is finding out first hand that hard work pays off.

On Saturday, the Bobcats for the first time won their season-opening Albert "Babbit" Liccioli Tournament, an event they've hosted for 26 years. The home team claimed the victory behind the strength of two weight class championships.

"(The win) is certainly a product of hard work," Blairsville wrestling coach D.J. Doak said. "The kids I have work so hard out there. They do anything I ask of them. They give me 100 percent in practice and it just shows out there on the mat."

Blairsville's highest finish prior to Saturday's victory was a third-place showing in 1996.

"It was a wonderful accomplishment, not only for the kids, but the entire program from top to bottom," Doak said.

Senior Matt Moore, who was one point away from winning the 152-pound PIAA Class AA state wrestling championship last season, captured the 160-pound crown at Saturday's tournament and also tied the school record for the most victories, with 112.

Moore, who compiled a 38-2 record last season, is determined to return to Hershey and become the first state champion in Blairsville school history.

Classmate Joel Rudy also took home a weight class crown Saturday, winning the 130-pound division.

Doak is stressing the importance of working together as a team. Blairsville topped Saturday's tourney in true team fashion, with six Bobcats advancing to the championship round.

The Bobcats have seven returning seniors, including Moore and Rudy.

Moore (160 pounds), Rudy (130), Glenn Carr (125), Rob Hamilton (171), Scott Hoe (135), Jeff Miller (135), Paul Newcombe (171), and juniors Jayme Borbonus (152), Scott Bukosky (119), and Paul Chakot (189) are expected to lead the veteran squad on the mat this year.

"All of these kids are leaders and it's a great team to coach," Doak said.

What might be even more promising are the naturally gifted underclassmen who are on the team this season.

Two examples are freshmen sensations Adam Weinell (103) and Ben Clawson (112), who turned in a stellar performance Saturday.

Weinell lost to the eventual weight class champion and Clawson lost by major decision in the championship.

After a major tournament to kick off the season, things seem to be headed in the right direction in Blairsville for Moore's state title quest and Doak's vision of taking his team to Hershey.

Blairsville competed yesterday against Johnstown. Tuesday the Bobcats are at home against Northern Cambria.

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