Led by a fine mix of experienced returnees and precocious freshmen, South Fayette is having a wrestling season like no other in the program's history.
The list of Lions' superlatives and “firsts” so far this season is lengthy. But they're hoping to add a few more high-profile accomplishments in the coming seven weeks.
“It's actually pretty exciting how we've been doing and what we've been able to do so far,” senior 113-pounder Seth Carr said. “But what's even better is that we should do well in the tournaments we have coming up.”
At Wednesday's Section 1-AA team championship tournament, host South Fayette is hoping to add to its regular-season Section 1A title it earned by winning all five dual matches.
That's a program first, according to second-year coach Rick Chaussard. It was earned via a victory last week over previously-No. 1-ranked Chartiers-Houston, something else South Fayette hadn't done before.
“That,” said Chaussard, “was a very big confidence boost for them.”
The victory over the Bucs came a few days after the Lions had their best showing at the Allegheny County tournament. South Fayette placed fourth overall and was the only Class AA team among the top 20. Led by Mike Fetchet's 170-pound title, the Lions boasted 10 placewinners — tied with winner North Allegheny for the most in the tournament.
The performance added to top-three finishes at the other two tournaments South Fayette entered this season — Chartiers Valley (second) and West Mifflin (third).
“We brought home hardware from all of them,” Chaussard said. “The guys liked that.”
The hardware haul, the Lions hope, will continue for the team and individuals.
Should they qualify for WPIALs, the Lions hope to build on last season's effort. According to Chaussard, in what was only South Fayette's second WPIAL team tournament appearance, the Lions won their first match at the event in school history.
“We're taking it a match at a time,” Chaussard said, “but there is a little buzz around the school among the kids and faculty and throughout the area.”
There's even more buzz surrounding several individual South Fayette wrestlers and their chances for WPIAL medals and qualifying for the state tournament.
Fetchet, Carr and sophomore J.J. Walker headline that group after each was a PIAA qualifier last season. Fetchet, a Columbia University recruit, placed fifth at 160.
Carr, who also is being recruited by Division I colleges, came within a match of a PIAA medal last season and has the potential to break through next month in Hershey.
Chaussard said Walker was “a pleasant surprise” as a 152-pound PIAA qualifier last season as freshman. This season, no fewer than three South Fayette freshmen have proved they have the ability to place at higher-level individual tournaments: Mike Carr (120 pounds), Jasper Wolfe (106) and Shane Ging (132).
In addition to the Carrs, two other sets of siblings are key contributors: juniors Grant Fetchet (152) and Zach Walker (195) join Mike and J.J., respectively.
Seniors Brad Haney (182) and Brandon Keck (145) also placed at the county tournament and could contend this postseason.
“We're very pleased with the depth we've shown with all our wrestlers,” Chaussard said.
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