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Bethel Park's Dunn continues hot streak at PIAA tournament

| Thursday, March 6, 2014, 10:03 p.m.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Bethel Park's Paul Dunn (bottom) battles Easton's Elijah Brown in their 152-pound bout during the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA Individual Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center on March 6, 2014, at the Giant Center in Hershey. Dunn won by a 9-8 decision.

HERSHEY — Bethel Park junior Paul Dunn wasn't happy when he dropped his first-round match at the WPIAL Class AAA wrestling championships a week ago.

His coaches, teammates and friends wouldn't let him dwell on the loss. They encouraged and pushed him to stay strong.

Dunn won five straight in the consolation rounds, finished third and earned a trip to Hershey for the PIAA championships.

On Thursday, Dunn kept his streak going by rallying for a 9-8 victory over Easton's Elijah Brown at 152 pounds in the opening round of the state tournament at Giant Center. Dunn picked up three nearfall points in the final period to erase an 8-6 deficit.

He, along with 30 other wrestlers from the WPIAL, advanced to the quarterfinals, which start at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Dunn (34-9) will face a tough challenge in Cumberland Valley senior T.C. Warner (42-2).

“Last week when I lost in the first round, I wasn't expecting it,” Dunn said. “I was down, but I battled back. I take a lot of pride in my conditioning. It's one of my strong points.”

Dunn said he's approaching his quarterfinal match like any other.

“He might be ranked high in the nation, but everyone is up here for a reason. We're all studs,” Dunn said.

Five returning PIAA champions from the WPIAL won, but Franklin Regional junior Devin Brown (106 pounds, AA champion) and senior Ty Smith (132) were pushed.

Brown (34-0) rallied with a late takedown to edge New Oxford freshman Zurich Storm, 8-7, and Smith (34-1) held on for a 2-1 win over Cumberland Valley's Alex Wolfe.

Latrobe sophomore Luke Pletcher (40-0), Hempfield junior Sam Krivus (39-3) and Canon-McMillan senior Solomon Chishko (24-3) won.

Pletcher defeated Hazleton freshman Jimmy Hoffman, 17-5, at 120 pounds, Krivus blanked Souderton senior Kolton Veit, 3-0, at 126 and Chishko whipped Exeter Township junior Ethan Stever, 25-10.

All six Franklin Regional wrestlers — Brown, Spencer Lee (113), Smith, Michael Kemerer (138), Josh Maruca (145) and Josh Shields (152) — advanced.

Along with Pletcher, Latrobe advanced sophomore Jake Shaffer (152), senior Zack Zavatsky (182) and junior Dylan Davis (220). Kiski Area, Mt. Lebanon, Canon-McMillan, North Allegheny, Central Catholic and Belle Vernon have wrestlers left in the winner's bracket.

Four of five WPIAL freshmen advanced: Lee, North Allegheny's Luke Landefield at 113, Penn-Trafford's Cam Coy at 132 and Belle Vernon's Jarod Verkleeren at 145.

North Hills' Gage Curry (36-2) was upset in the first round, 5-2 by Solanco's Connor Sheehan, at 106 pounds but came back to win in the consolation round.

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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