Kiski Area grapplers past Connellsville in team quarterfinals
Kiski Area wrestling coach Chuck Tursky stood in the locker room next to Connellsville's gymnasium and professed the importance of bonus points when top teams square off against each other.
Tursky talked about not giving up those coveted points, but he just as easily could have focused on his team's ability to rack up those extra points as the Cavaliers took down McGuffey, 51-22, in a WPIAL Class AAA first-round match, then followed that a dominating 46-21 win over the host Falcons in a quarterfinal match. Connellsville had advanced to the quarterfinals with a 45-16 victory over Hempfield.
Kiski Area advanced to the semifinals and will battle top-seeded Canon-McMillan on Friday at Chartiers Valley.
Kiski Area used 11 wins, including five falls, in the quarterfinal match against the Falcons to keep its title hopes alive.
“They've got a good team, and we were trying to cover their lineup,” Tursky said. “Through the middle there were a couple of weights where we found ourselves in position to win. We got on a roll, and sometimes it works like that.”
Kiski Area built a 15-0 lead in the quarterfinal, thanks to pins from Matt McCutcheon (195 pounds) and Shane Kuhn (220) as well as a decision from Tyler Worthing (182). Connellsville bounced back with a pin from Dylan Miller (285) and a decision from Tyler Kenney (106), but the Cavaliers scored 24 points in the next four bouts to seal the win. Mitchell Nagy (113), Vaughn Curcio (126) and Jake Ardellitz (132) all recorded a fall. Ryan Hardaway (120) received a forfeit as Kiski Area pulled away, 39-9.
“They are a pretty strong team, and they beat us fair and square,” Connellsville coach Tommy Dolde said. “But we're young, and that's the good thing. We'll try to learn from the mistakes and remember the little things, and hopefully we'll come back as a stronger team.”
Dolde also noted that his team was without two wrestlers, which forced the lineup to be juggled. Kiski Area was able to take full advantage.
“They are a strong team, and they are very experienced,” Dolde said. “They are peaking at the right time and we're peaking at the right time, but it just wasn't a good matchup.”
Kiski Area's Cole Landowski (145) won by major decision, and Kyle Skelly (160) posted a decision for the Cavaliers (16-1). Ethan Kenney (138) and Dale Provance (152) each won via decision, and Andy Cecil (170) received a forfeit for the Falcons (19-3).
For the Falcons, the individual portion of the season is ahead, but the team is hopeful to schedule a few nonsection matches in the coming weeks. They'll try to use the loss to the Cavaliers as a motivational tool.
“It's a learning experience for us,” Dolde said.
The Cavaliers will face a huge test against the Big Macs in the semifinals.
“Canon-McMillan is number one in the state,” Tursky said. “I don't think there's much else you can say. We'll do our best.”
Connellsville and Kiski Area are scheduled to wrestle each other in a nonsection match at Connellsville in February, but a decision on whether to keep the match on the schedule hasn't been made.
Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.