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Burrell's DesLauriers eager to get back on the mat

Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch - Burrell wrestler Dakota DesLauriers.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Erica Hilliard  |  Valley News Dispatch</em></div>Burrell wrestler Dakota DesLauriers.
Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review BLR PIAA-AA0311 11.jpg goes with story by West intended for publication in VND on March 11, 2012. - Burrell's Dakota DesLauriers leaves the mat after losing a 6-4 decision to Grove City's Wes Phipps in their 182-lb championship bout during the PIAA Class AA Individual Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa on March 10, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review BLR PIAA-AA0311 11.jpg goes with story by West intended for publication in VND on March 11, 2012.</em></div>Burrell's Dakota DesLauriers leaves the mat after losing a 6-4 decision to Grove City's Wes Phipps in their 182-lb championship bout during the PIAA Class AA Individual Wrestling Championships at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa on March 10, 2012.

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Dakota DesLauriers appreciates that the PIAA permits a 2-pound growth allowance for wrestlers around the holidays. But the Burrell senior standout won't need one this year.

DesLauriers has yet to compete this season due to a bout with mononucleosis — an illness that caused him to lose 10 pounds.

“It kind of worked out that way, I guess, so it's not all that bad,” he said.

The 182-pounder missed the Bucs' section opener at Kittanning, as well as the Cumberland Valley Tournament and Franklin Regional Duals. He hasn't competed since October at the national Super 32 Tournament, where he placed seventh.

“I couldn't wait to get cleared,” DesLauriers said.

Assuming he does more than take the mat for a ceremonial arm-raising for a forfeit win, DesLauriers is expected to make his season debut Wednesday night at home against Summit Academy.

Burrell coach Bud Sines thinks DesLauriers will have about as much rust as a stainless-steel steak knife — with all the sharpness.

“He had his first practice Friday,” said Sines, who hopes to guide Burrell to its seventh straight WPIAL Class AA team championship. “You can't even tell he's been out.”

Even better news for DesLauriers: he won't miss the Powerade Tournament Dec. 28-29 at Canon-McMillan. The prestigious holiday event is the unofficial kick-start to showcasing some of the state's top individual wrestlers.

“It's great to know I can compete (at Powerade); it would be a major letdown to miss that,” DesLauriers said. “There's always room for improvement. I might be a little behind on conditioning, but all wrestlers will tell you it doesn't take long to get back into a groove.”

DesLauriers, a four-year starter who has won back-to-back WPIAL titles at 171 and 182, went 45-1 last season and took second in the PIAA.

He is 116-14 in his career, which has been slowed by injuries.

A knee injury limited him as a sophomore, although he rallied to go 47-6 and take third at states.

“I got hurt around the Valley match and was out six to eight weeks; that took a major chunk of my season,” DesLauriers said. “That made me miss Powerade.”

Last year, DesLauriers injured his elbow at the national freestyle tournament in Fargo, N.D., and that forced him to miss the Ironman Tournament.

“He was told he might need surgery, but he figured just go without it, and he came back to win Powerade,” Sines said. “There are almost no flaws in his game. When he wrestles the best kids in the country, it's like a coin flip.”

Without DesLauriers, and other starters Damon Greenwald and Derek Beattie, Burrell eked out a 35-33 win over upstart Kittanning, which began the season ranked No. 3 in Class AA by Trib Total Media. Burrell started No. 2.

“We tried to move everybody up, but (Kittanning) followed us,” Sines said. “With Dakota back, it allows us to do more.”

DesLauriers signed with Mercyhurst just before the season, but he promises not to ease up.

“My main goal is to win a state title,” he said. “And going undefeated all season.

“With most seniors, you feel you're at the top of the food chain. But there are always people working hard to beat you. You have to stay on top of your game.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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