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Burrell wrestling team brings energy, shock, Awes

| Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, 8:09 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Burrell's Ethan Awes pins Freedom's Jake Pail during their 132-pound match in the WPIAL Class AA team wrestling final Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017, at Chartiers-Houston High School.

Burrell teammates began to chant Anthony Marra's name when the senior 182-pounder needed a pick-me-up most Saturday during the WPIAL Class AA team tournament final at Chartiers-Houston.

Only back in action since mid-January after missing a month with an upper-body injury, Marra, one of the team's senior standouts, welcomed anything that might infuse him with energy as he grinded through his bout with Freedom's Bryson Miller.

He eventually found the strength to score a takedown on Miller in overtime, and his 4-2 win clinched the championship, as it put Burrell ahead by 23 points with three bouts to go in the Bucs' eventual 44-27 victory over the Bulldogs.

Burrell extended its streak of WPIAL Class AA team titles to 11.

Marra didn't have an explanation for how he found the wind to finish off Miller after battling Derry's Dom Deluca to the ultimate tiebreaker phase of their bout in the team semifinals just a couple hours earlier. Marra topped Deluca, 4-2, with a reversal.

“I'm still a little bit out of shape,” Marra said. “There are some matches where I feel good, and then there are some matches where I'm just dead. … (In the final), I was definitely a little bit dead.

“I just had to go out there and wrestle my match. I didn't do as good as I thought I should've done (against Miller). He's definitely really strong, so when I got in on his leg, I couldn't finish.”

By the time Marra's weight class came up during the semifinal against Derry, the Bucs had already wrapped up a victory. But the senior eagerly embraced the chance to square off with Deluca.

“(Coaches) told me, ‘You're wrestling Deluca if we can get you to wrestle Deluca,'” Marra said. “I was perfectly fine with that. I love the challenge. I needed a challenge. … I'm pretty sure he's ranked ahead of me in the WPIAL, so it definitely was a big match for me individually.”

Though he clinched the championship match for Burrell, Marra never received the somewhat customary lift into the air from teammates. Maybe his weight deterred them — the recent wrestlers to go airborne were lightweights. Or maybe the final score ended up lopsided enough that no one on the team considered the carry-the-clincher tradition necessary.

Marra insisted a better candidate for that role existed anyway.

“Ethan Awes, I think that was a big match,” Marra said. “That's where the momentum changed for everyone.”

Awes, a junior, prevailed in a scramble to secure a pinfall win over Freedom's Jake Pail at 132 in the fifth bout of the finals. He also rallied to deliver an 11-2 major decision in the semifinals.

“He really took his game to the next level,” coach Josh Shields said. “I was super impressed with his performance.”

Because Awe's bout came so early in the finals, no teammates thought to chant his name. But they provided a different kind of adulation.

“I noticed it after the match, when my team was hugging me and congratulating me,” Awes said. “During the match, I was just focused on getting that (bonus) point and helping the team out. … Once I got (Pail) on his back, I wasn't going to let him off. I wanted that pin. I wanted to do it for the team.”

Bill West is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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