When Jeremy Zufall took over as coach at Yough High School nine seasons ago, there were only seven wrestlers on the roster.
Fast forward to today, and things have certainly changed at Yough. The Cougars have started to become a contender in WPIAL Class AA.
Yough, ranked No. 3, had a chance to make a statement Monday against No. 2 Burrell, the reigning WPIAL champion. Yough came up just short, falling 35-28.
The Cougars opened the 2012-13 season with 11 consecutive victories, but Burrell proved to be their first challenge of the season.
Despite the loss, Zufall said he was pleased with the effort against Burrell, a program rich in tradition. Zufall wants his program to strive to be like a Burrell.
“This was a measuring point, and we came up short,” Zufall said. “The loss was a learning experience for the wrestlers. We lost close matches, and we have to learn from our mistakes.
“We felt the close matches on paper would be the difference. Burrell won all them. The 126-pound match was the difference.”
That's where Teddy Charletta dropped a heartbreaking 10-8 overtime decision to Damon Greenwald.
Yough battles Section 2 rival Derry on Wednesday, and a victory would give it a sub-section title.
Zufall wants another section banner to match the 2010 team.
Yough (11-1) won six matches, including pins by Gary Fallacker (195 pounds) and Tom Sever (220), against Burrell. The Cougars also got wins from Alex Schork (106), Cody Charles (113), Mike Anderson (160) and Lucas Richardson (170).
“We have one of the largest rosters (30 wrestlers) in Class AA,” Zufall said. “The junior high program has some good wrestlers coming, and the Junior Olympic program is getting stronger.
“We're starting to develop kids at younger levels, like Burrell. We're doing the right stuff.”
Burrell coach Bud Sines, in his second season, noticed the effort of the Yough wrestlers, and he knows it takes a team effort to become a good program.
“Burrell is a wrestling community,” Sines said. “The kids grow up wanting to be wrestlers. We have kids coming up all the time.”
Sines said he knew his team was in for a battle against Yough.
“There aren't many teams in the WPIAL (Class AA) that can matchup with us,” Zufall said. “Burrell and South Fayette are about the only ones. We're good. We have to keep getting better. The loss might not be so bad.
“The program is like night and day since I got here. We have clubs in the district, and we're going to be good for 10 to 15 years or so. We have five JO state placewinners coming up, so the future looks bright.”
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