Burrell wrestling team's success byproduct of talent, experience and tradition
As he watched Burrell's under-the-radar lineup grind its way to a sixth straight WPIAL Class AA team wrestling title a season ago, coach Bud Sines became a believer in the Bucs' mystique.
Sines, now in his second season as Burrell's coach, is certain the program's winning tradition will continue this winter.
“I'm confident that we're not going to disappoint,” Sines said. “When the kids here put on the Burrell singlet, they believe in (the mystique).”
Four seniors — only two of whom started the entire season — graduated for the Bucs. Among the returning grapplers for Burrell, ranked No. 2 in Class AA by the Tribune-Review News Service, are three PIAA tournament qualifiers including Mercyhurst recruit and 2012 state runner-up Dakota DesLauriers, who went 45-1 as a 182-pound junior.
Junior Steven Edwards made PIAAs a season ago as a 132-pounder. Senior Phil Marra also made it to Hershey as a 138-pounder. Junior Derrick Beattie (170 pounds a season ago) is back after reaching the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional.
Graduation stripped Riverview of nine wrestlers and left the Raiders with an underclassman-laden roster.
Riverview will try to return to the Section 3-AA team tournament for a third straight year. The Raiders reached the fifth-place match after placing third in Subsection A each of the last two seasons but lost and consequently missed the WPIAL tournament.
After qualifying for the WPIALs at 113 and 145 pounds, respectively, a season ago, juniors Megan Moroney and Tyler Murphy will try to win medals this year.
Coach Steve Ansani has heard about the strong lineups Burrell and Kittanning will field, and he wants people to realize that Valley also has an abundance of talent and experience.
All but two starters are back for Valley, which placed second behind Burrell in Section 3-AA and had six PIAA Southwest Regional qualifiers, five of whom return.
“I don't mind flying under the radar,” Ansani said.
Juniors Terrell Fields and Pat Dewitt lead the way. Fields placed second at 182 pounds in the WPIAL and the PIAA Southwest region, and Dewitt won the WPIAL title at 103. Senior Josiah Hughes (113 pounds last season), junior Marcus Davenport (152) and junior Dylan Clark (160) aim to build on regional-round appearances.
Kittanning wrestling coach Brandon Newill found the distance between his Wildcats' potential and their on-mat performance maddening at times a season ago.
Not only is Newill intent on closing the gap this winter, he intends to help Kittanning, ranked No. 3 in Class AA by the Tribune-Review News Service, break new ground with group that includes 10 returning starters, five of whom were five PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional qualifiers and one of whom, Jason Nolf, placed third in the state.
“We're always looking to live up to our potential, but more than that, we're trying to push our potential,” Newill said. “We're trying to do better than we should. Absolutely, last year, we did not achieve what I think we could have.”
Kittanning lost to Section 3-AA Subsection B foes Burrell and Valley in dual meets. Later, in the WPIAL team quarterfinals, the Wildcats again fell to Burrell.
Kittanning will get its shot at redemption against Burrell and Valley. The Wildcats open their Section 3-AA schedule Wednesday with a home match against the Bucs, and the following week they'll travel to meet the Vikings.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303.