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Connellsville falls to Hempfield again, but Falcons see improvement

FORT ALLEN — To claim the Section 2-AAA championship, the Hempfield wrestling team knew it likely would have to defeat rival Connellsville in the final.

Just that scenario played out, and Hempfield came away with a 37-31 victory Thursday. It was the second time this month that Hempfield defeated Connellsville.

In the semifinals, Hempfield cruised past Thomas Jefferson, winning 10 of 14 bouts in a 56-19 victory. The Falcons advanced to the final by defeating Ringgold, 45-15.

In the title match, Hempfield's Paul Bewak clinched the victory by defeating Tyler Steele at 125 pounds. After the match, coach Vince DeAugustine noted the importance of winning the section and entering the WPIAL playoffs on a high note.

"To beat Connellsville once is a tall task, but to do it twice in a couple of weeks is very satisfying and rewarding," he said. "We're 16-2 this year, and I'm happy for the kids."

The Spartans got pins from Joey Alessandro (112), Kyle Spangler (160), Dante Nania (189) and Nikos Garofola (215).

"At the beginning of the year, we weren't ranked in the top 10, but the kids have worked hard, and we've had a great season," DeAugustine said. "We've got some momentum, and I'm excited about where we are at."

For Connellsville, not winning the section title was disappointing, but the team will try to refocus and get ready for next week's WPIAL playoffs. Coach Tom Dolde was anything but discouraged.

"Our kids have gotten better from the last time we wrestled them," he said. "We are a sophomore-laden team, and they are a senior-laden team. I'm really upbeat about this match. I feel good about this match, and we're going in the right direction."

Jesse Swink (145) and Ethan Kenney (119) posted pins in the title match. Brady Ritenour (285) won by fall, and Tanner Wiltrout (130) and Mike Aumer (152) won via major decision. Ryan Williams (135) won by technical fall.

In the third-place match, Ringgold belted Thomas Jefferson, 60-14. The Rams enter the WPIAL playoffs as the third seed from the section; the Jaguars are the fourth seed.

The WPIAL Class AAA playoffs begin Monday.

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