Fox Chapel's Lever has fine finish at county wrestling event
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Months before Saturday's breakthrough performance at the Allegheny County Wrestling Championships, Fox Chapel senior Tyler Lever waited for doctors to declare a portion of his body no longer broken.
Lever, a heavyweight, missed much of his junior season, including the county championship tournament, due to a condition known as spondylolysis, which involves fractures in the L5 vertebra. He returned to full health during the offseason and this weekend made his final appearance at the event at Fox Chapel High School.
He set a new standard for success, placing second in the 285-pound weight class.
“It was a lot nicer wrestling in front of a bunch of people I know,” said Lever, who placed fifth as a freshman and sophomore. “I've been in the finals at West Mifflin before (at the Steve DeAugustino Holiday Classic), and it was not as close to as many people cheering me on as there was today.”
Four pinfall wins moved the third-seeded Lever to the finals, where he met defending champion Noah Shulman of Hampton.
Shulman defeated Lever by technical fall (18-3) in a dual match Wednesday night. Lever learned from that meeting and improved his approach, but a 9-0 loss still ensued. He trailed, 2-0, after the first period. Then Shulman began to pile up near-fall points.
“I was trying to slow him down a little bit, stop him from taking me down as much,” Lever said. “My dad was talking to him, and he said that he's probably dropping down to 220 for sections, so that leaves a spot for me to take section champion.”
Two other wrestlers joined Lever as placewinners for Fox Chapel, which took 13th in the team standings with 92 points.
On the opposite end of the weight spectrum from Lever was 106-pound Jared Rice, who placed fourth. He reached the semifinals but lost to eventual runner-up Mike Heinl of Shaler, 6-3. In the medal match, Rice met the weight class' No. 1 seed, North Allegheny's Scott Stossel, who prevailed, 7-4.
Tyler Heasley, a sixth-place finisher, reached the semifinals of the 152-pound bracket, where he was pinned by Allderdice's Brian Estep, the No. 1 seed and eventual runner-up. Injured in the consolation semifinal, Heasley defaulted out of the fifth-place bout.
Plum's Zach Martin, a fourth-place finisher in the 152-pound weight class, was the individual responsible for Heasley's loss in the consolation semifinals. Martin defeated Heasley, 3-1, in overtime and lost a nail-biter to Hampton's Zach Kocak in the third-place bout.
Martin led a foursome of placewinners for the Mustangs, who took seventh as a team with 104 points. Tommy Zummo (120 pounds) placed fifth, Andrew McRandal (170) took sixth, and Jake DiGuilio (220) came in seventh.
Without the depth of a program like Plum, Highlands, which has five wrestlers and only competes in individual tournaments this season, faced long odds of having multiple placewinners. Yet the Golden Rams managed to produce two.
Nolan Wise (138), who transferred back to Highlands after a two-year stint at Shady Side Academy, took seventh by pinning Chartiers Valley's Clayton Sekel. And Zach Mazur (170) came in eighth.
“The first tournament, Southmoreland, was a little rough because everybody else had wrestled before,” Wise said, referring to the late-December event. “But now the tables are basically even. And I don't mind the individual thing; there's a little more pressure to win, that's for sure. So that's one of the downfalls, but it kind of helps.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @BWest_Trib.
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