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Falcons, Vikings stay alive

| Saturday, March 2, 2002

MONONGAHELA - After falling into the loser's bracket at the WPIAL/PIAA Southwest Regional Tournament at Ringgold High School on Thursday, most area wrestlers faced a do-or-die situation on Friday.

Connellsville's Josh Martin (103), Seth Nicholson (119), Kyle Martin (130), Brenton Tony (140), Jason Doppelheuer (160), Shawn Stewart (171), Ben Benzio (189) and Greg Gray (heavyweight) as well as Mount Pleasant's Mark Mondock (112) and Matt Neal (135) all had to win last night, or call it a season.

As it turns out, seven of the above 10 won in the first round of consolations and have stayed alive in the tournament.

Meanwhile, Connellsville's Jarrod King (135) and Mount Pleasant's Jim Wilkinson (145) each advanced into the semifinals as each won for the second night in a row.

Both King and Wilkinson are just one win away from advancing into the state tournament at Hershey next week.

In his quarterfinal match, King had to work hard, but muscled his way to a 5-1 decision over Latrobe's Brian Lekawa.

"We've got Jarrod in there and he's got to win one of his next two to go to states," Connellsville coach Tom Dolde said. "He's a good wrestler and I'd like to see him win the whole thing."

Mount Pleasant coach Mark Mears is probably hoping for the same thing for Wilkinson. After a major decision on Thursday, Wilkinson came back and decked Valley's Anthony Arcuri in the second period to advance to the semifinals.

Wilkinson trailed early, but eventually got the upper hand and the pin.

"When he got taken down, I think he was just nervous," Mears said. "But he knew how big this match was and he was the superior guy. He's put himself into a position where he is one win away from going to Hershey."

"When I got taken down, I was a little worried," Wilkinson admitted. "But when I shot, he wasn't ready. And by the time he reacted, I had him."

As far as Wilkinson's teammates, Mondock was eliminated with a consolation loss, but Neal stayed alive with a forfeit victory.

"Mark wrestled tough, but he's in a real tough weight class," Mears pointed out.

Several Falcons also found out how tough their weight classes could be. Steve Bell (103), Buddy Graft (152) and John Ferens (152) each dropped to the consolation bracket after losing in last night's quarterfinals. Bell was pinned by the top seed, Ferens lost to the second seed and Graft fell to the third seed.

"We had some tough draws," Dolde admitted. "These guys are going to have to try to pull it together and find a way through this thing."

In the consolation rounds, Josh Martin, Nicholson, Kyle Martin, Doppelheuer, Stewart and Gray all managed to find a way through to today's action.

Benzio and Tony were ousted after suffering their second loss of the tournament.

Josh Martin stayed alive with a pin over Albert Gallatin's Jeff Lawrence in the second period. Then Kyle Martin controlled Ringgold's Trevor Swindell on his way to a 10-4 decision. Doppelheuer needed overtime, but managed a 6-5 decision over Highlands' Julius Reid. Then Stewart started strong and finished with a 7-2 win over Kittanning's Greg Wynkoop.

The Falcons' Nicholson and Gray didn't have to wrestle after they received a forfeit to move on to the second round of consolations.

"This is a hard thing to go through," Dolde admitted. "But they stayed alive."

Action begins this morning with the second round of the consolations starting at 10 a.m. Semifinals and third round consolations will begin at noon.

The consolation finals are slated for 6:30 p.m. The Parade of Champions will take place at 7:50 p.m., followed by the championship bouts at 8.

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