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Burrell wrestling team collects 10th straight section title

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 11:58 p.m.
Kittanning's Jacob Robb ties up Burrell's Cory Klems in the 170-pound match during the Section 3-AA wrestling tournament Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at South Allegheny. Ronald Vezzani Jr./Daily News

Not only did Burrell's wrestling team extend its streak of dominance over section opponents Wednesday night at South Allegheny High School, but the Bucs put themselves in strong position to burnish another string of achievements next week.

With victories over Avonworth and Kittanning in the Section 3-AA team tournament, Burrell (9-4) claimed its 10th consecutive section title and moved its number of section wins in a row to 78. In what was billed as an intriguing rematch with subsection B rival Kittanning (11-4), the Bucs cruised, 49-18, in the finals.

The first-place finish all but guaranteed that a No. 1 or 2 seed in next week's WPIAL Class AA team tournament will go to Burrell, the district's six-time defending champion.

“This is where we think we belong,” Burrell coach Bud Sines said. “The team that everyone is looking at is South Fayette, and you look at them on paper, and they're real solid. So you'd hate to be stuck in the No. 4 slot with them. But we took care of business.”

Burrell prevailed, 56-21, over Avonworth (5-11), subsection A's runner-up, in the semifinal, with Steven Edwards (138 pounds), Corey Falleroni (152), Zach Smith (160), Dakota DesLauriers (195) and Al Beattie (285) securing pins. Twelve of Avonworth's points came from forfeit wins.

Kittanning also advanced without much anxiety, as the Wildcats won, 51-25, over subsection A leader South Allegheny (8-4). Derek Bowser (126), Jason Nolf (138), Jacob Robb (170) and Logan Robb (220) secured pins, while Zac Croyle (195) managed a 22-5 technical fall.

The Wildcats, who lost, 35-33, to Burrell in mid-December, understood that the Bucs entered with a healthier lineup this time around — three Burrell starters (DesLauriers, 126-pounder Damon Greenwald and 120-pounder Noah Hanna) missed the regular-season match because of injury. And Kittanning lacked two starters, 182-pounder Nathan Watt and 113-pounder Brody Trumbull, who participated in the previous match.

Still, the expectation remained that Kittanning might challenge Burrell, a team that last won a section title by fewer than 10 points in 2010.

By the time Burrell's gauntlet of middleweights completed bouts, any dreams of a down-to-the-wire match had vanished. The Bucs won five of the first six bouts, with a Nolf pin at 138 being the lone result that favored Kittanning. Edwards, wrestling at 145, and Phil Marra, bumped up to 152, secured pins.

“If you're going to wrestle someone like Burrell, you better go out there and freaking wrestle,” Kittanning coach Brandon Newill said. “You can't just go out there and expect a takedown when you put in one attempt. … I just don't think we had the killer instinct.”

Kittanning's Taylor Jack (160) and Jacob Robb won back-to-back bouts, with both earning decisions. But their 3-point contributions to the team score hardly made a dent in Burrell's comfortable lead.

Pins by DesLauriers, Shane Cornuet (220) and Beattie cemented Burrell's title and left no doubt about the Bucs' eagerness to establish themselves as the WPIAL's top team.

“Once we got a nice lead, we pretty much caught fire,” Sines said. “I think we've seen that happen before.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @BWest_Trib.

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