Burrell wrestling team edges Valley in section showdown
A long, loud, post-match locker room speech said it all.
The champs were hot and bothered.
Despite another victory, Burrell's wrestling coaches weren't in a celebratory mood after the Buccaneers escaped with a 36-34 victory over Valley on Wednesday night in New Kensington.
Burrell's program has a standard — a foot-on-the-throat mentality that thrives on making teams submit. The old “a-win-is-a-win” thing doesn't mean much to the six-time defending WPIAL champions, who seemed unusually humbled after Valley gave them all they could handle.
“We're just not catching fire; we weren't like ourselves,” Burrell coach Bud Sines said. “We did the minimum to get this win. We can't wrestle like this (in the postseason) and expect to win.”
Valley (7-2, 2-2) was hoping to upset the Class AA No. 2-ranked Bucs (7-3, 4-0) and force a three-way tie for first place in Section 3B with Burrell and Kittanning. But a pair of forfeits, a couple of surprises and a shortage of pins kept the Vikings from pulling off the upset.
“We didn't get the bonus points when we needed them,” Valley coach Steve Ansani said. “We had some guys locked in cradles, but couldn't get the pins. We were close, but not close enough.”
Burrell's most impressive win came from freshman Damon Greenwald, who stunned defending WPIAL champion and No. 1-ranked 126-pounder Pat Dewitt, 7-4.
“Both medaled at the county tournament (last weekend),” Sines said. “You never know what you're going to get with a freshman, but Damon got a big win for us.”
A junior, Dewitt fell to 17-4.
“Greenwald really stepped up,” Ansani said.
Valley's C.J. Ragins also pulled a surprise at 138, pinning Jason David in 2:49 to put the Vikings up, 16-7.
Back-to-back pins by Steven Edwards (145) and Phil Marra (152), the normal 160-pounder who replaced injured Corey Fallaroni, gave Burrell its first lead at 18-16. Marra had a team point deducted for unsportsmanlike conduct. Valley went back up, 22-18, after nine matches, but Dakota DesLauriers won by fall at 182 to give the Bucs a 24-22 advantage.
Some were hoping to see DesLauriers (13-0) face Valley's Terrell Fields, but Fields opted to go at 195 and picked up six points, pinning Corey Arabia to give Valley a 28-24 advantage with three bouts left.
Two Valley forfeits sealed the Vikings' fate, however. Valley freshman Jihad Ratliff posted a pin at 106 in the final bout to make it 36-34.
Valley's 285-pounder, Dom Dorsey, did not wrestle because of disciplinary reasons, Ansani said. Valley's Josiah Hughes (120), one of only two seniors on the team, picked up a win on senior night.
“We're used to a more up-tempo style,” Ansani said. “They slowed us down. We just have to develop that killer instinct when we get guys on their backs.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is the Local Sports Editor of the Valley News Dispatch. He can be reached email@example.com.