Bucs' Marra gets his medal
HERSHEY — What Burrell coach Josh Shields said about senior Anthony Marra in December held true in March: The 182-pounder needed a shot he trusted so he could score in the tight matches at the state tournament.
Marra met one of his season goals when he made it to the final day of the PIAA Class AA individual championships, but he advanced out of Friday's action as a contender for a lower spot on the medal stand than he desired.
Alternating wins and losses led Marra to a berth in Saturday's seventh-place match. Marra will wrestle Meyersdale senior Christian Hutzell (24-11) not long after the Class AA finals and medal matches begin at 2 p.m. at the Giant Center.
The seniors met in the third-place bout at the Thomas Chevrolet Bedford tournament in late January, and Marra won 2-0.
Marra considered himself a contender for a PIAA title, and evidence suggested he possessed that level of talent — he twice went down to the wire this season against the two state finalists in his weight class, unbeaten Beth-Center sophomore Dominic Fundy and Saegertown junior Cody Mulligan.
But the same struggle to score held him back in his 2-1 tiebreaker loss to Fundy in the WPIAL finals Feb. 18 and in his 3-1 loss to Mulligan in the PIAA quarterfinals on Friday. It also cost him in his fourth-round consolation bout, a 3-1 overtime loss to Troy senior Zach Zimmerman.
“I'm still not confident with my shots, so I was wrestling how I usually wrestle,” Marra said.
Defense and opportunistic attacks ensured Marra made it to the medal rounds for the first time in his career. He won 10-2 on Thursday in his first-round bout and held a decisive 7-4 lead late in the third period before delivering a pin in the third-round consolation or “blood round” match Friday morning.
“He's a little hesitant on his feet, but senior year, you've got to let it go now,” Shields said. “To beat the kids at this level, you've got to score takedowns. You can't just ride guys and escape.”
Shields has often touted Marra's athleticism. The senior wants to trust in that faith, but he finds himself hesitant at times.
“I don't always finish on my shots, and it scares me,” Marra said. “(Shield's confidence) definitely helps me believe, but I know where I struggle with my shots. It's not getting in. It's once I get in and then try cutting off (at the legs). Usually my feet stop at that point, and you're supposed to drive them (down) the whole way.”
No other Burrell wrestlers made it to Saturday's events.
Junior 120-pounder Trent Bechtold lost 5-1 in a third-round consolation bout. Sophomore 113-pounder Bryan Gaul and freshman 106-pounder Trent Valovchik came up short in their first matches of the day.
Bechtold's 2-2 record in the tournament improved upon his winless appearance in Hershey as a sophomore.
Gaul and Valovchik, both first-timers in the PIAA individual championships, viewed their debuts as instructive. They aspired to achieve more — particularly Valovchik, who ripped through the WPIAL championships with relative ease.
“This year was pretty awesome,” said Valovchik, who lost his final PIAA bout on a defensive pin. “I think I've got to work on top. I've been doing pretty good this year at riding people. But getting high on legs, that obviously cost me in my last match.”
A 3-1 loss eliminated Gaul, who fell one win short of qualifying for the PIAA tournament as a freshman.
“It was a confidence booster, but I just thought I could've wrestled better here,” Gaul said. “I think I could've been in better shape. I think my offense could've been better. I wasn't attacking enough.”