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South Allegheny wrestlers put loss behind them

The loss the South Allegheny wrestling team took against Keystone Oaks to open its Section 3-AA schedule still stung heading into the WPIAL team sectional tournament.

Now just over one month later, the Gladiators and coach Tony DiGiorgio finally can put that loss behind them.

They have a new one to stew over.

After falling to four-time defending WPIAL Class AA team champion Burrell 66-9 to open the Section 3-AA tournament Wednesday, SA went on to drop a disappointing 48-35 decision against the host Golden Eagles.

“It's disappointing,” DiGiorgio said. “I came in here with the expectation of winning third. We got kind of messed up in the seeding. If we wouldn't have gotten Burrell in the first round maybe this would have turned out differently. Maybe (we) were tired after wrestling Burrell. I don't know.”

With both losses, the Gladiators (4-3) earned the fourth seed out of Section 3-AA into Monday's WPIAL Class AA team playoffs, which will be held at a site and time to be determined.

It will be SA's second trip to the WPIAL team playoffs in school history.

Keystone Oaks (5-1) will enter as the third seed behind Kittanning (6-3), who fell to the Buccaneers (7-0) in the sectional tournament championship match, 62-17.

“They just wanted it more than we did,” senior Dan Rymarowicz said. “That's basically what it was. We lost to them early in the season and I guess we wanted to beat them this time even more, but they came back harder.”

For SA, falling to the Golden Eagles 45-21 in their first section match of the season on Dec. 15 was certainly disappointing. More importantly, it also set up the opening match at the sectional tournament with Burrell.

The negative effects of losing the grudge match, however, will linger longer.

The Gladiators accepted four forfeits in Wednesday's match and still managed to take a loss.

“That should never happen,” DiGiorgio said. “I don't even know what to say about it.”

Junior Anthony Sorrentino got SA off on the right foot by winning a 16-0 decision over Keystone Oaks' Colton Lorenz in the 130-pound match.

A Golden Eagles forfeit in the 135-pound bout then handed the Gladiators an 11-0 advantage.

“Yeah, I teched my kid,” Sorrentino said of his technical fall victory. “I knew him since we were younger. I went out there and wrestled.”

It would be about the last bright spot of the match for the Gladiators.

Matt Drabik (140 pounds), Zach Collins (145) and Rico Canello (152) went on to earn three consecutive victories by pinfall to hand Keystone Oaks an 18-11 lead.

The loss by Gladiators senior Nick Camponizzi, who was pinned by Collins with 25 seconds left in the second period, was especially hard for DiGiorgio to take.

“They threw a guy in there that was not their starter, just as a filler, and Nick should have beat him,” the coach said. “I don't know if Nick was gassed. I don't know what the deal was. Nick wrestles well but wrestled bad. You don't know what you're going to get with him.”

When Rymarowicz pinned Zach Hepner late in the first period of the 160-pound match, SA momentarily regained some hope with their deficit slimmed to 18-17.

But the Golden Eagles again received three straight pins as Mike Kazalas beat Anthony Pergantis in the 171-pound bout, Alex Diven (189) defeated Rick James and Jake Maiette knocked off Robert Chronkhite (215).

Although SA then became the beneficiary of three forfeits, Mike Whaby lost by pin to Keystone Oaks' Nick Zanetta in the 119-pound match before Logan Ausman beat Gladiators sophomore Joe Sorrentino (125) to close out the match.

“I was confident we were going to win this one, but it didn't go our way,” DiGiorgio said. “For whatever reason my wrestlers seem to not want to lose in decisions. They lose in pins. You can't recover from that.”

SA now advances to the WPIAL team tournament for the first time since the 2008-09 season.

“We've just got to give it our all at practice now,” Anthony Sorrentino said. “We've just got to put the past behind us and move on.”

NOTES: Camponizzi and Russ Losteter earned SA's only victories against Burrell. Camponizzi (145) pinned Zach Smith and Losteter won a 9-2 decision over Dan Sheppard.

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