Gateway wrestlers gearing up for Montour Duals
Gateway varsity wrestling team head coach R.J. Santilli said he likes the way the schedule sets up down the stretch to the Section 1-AAA tournament on Feb. 23.
Several dual matches over the next two weeks, as well as Saturday's Montour Duals, he said, will get his young team prepared.
“We always try to backload our schedule so we get matches late in the season to get our guys ready,” Santilli said. “The guys have nine more matches, guaranteed. There's a lot of wrestling left before sectionals.”
Gateway will be one of 10 teams at the Montour Duals, and will wrestle five matches over the course of the day.
The Gators will wrestle pool matches against Belle Vernon, South Park, Jeannette and Moon, while Montour, Thomas Jefferson, Knoch, Penn Hills and Carlynton will do battle in a second pool.
Gateway then will match up against a team with a similar pool-placement finish from the other pool for a fifth match to determine its overall placement.
Gateway hosts Butler on Tuesday at 7 p.m. and visits Ringgold at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Gators will face Elizabeth Forward on senior night on Feb. 13 at the Furrie Sports Complex, and a Feb. 15 match will be at Pine-Richland. Both matches will be at 7 p.m.
Gateway wrestled Hempfield last week in the Section 1-AAA fifth-place match with a trip to the WPIAL tournament on the line. However, the Spartans came away with a 60-18 victory.
“It was a positive experience for everyone, even though we weren't able to win the match,” Santilli said.
“It's our goal every year to make the playoffs, and we were able to check that off our list. Qualifying was a step in the right direction.”
Junior Austin Davidson went up two weight classes to 182 and scored a six-point victory. His efforts earned him Gator-of-the- Match honors.
With the win, Davidson improved to 15-7 overall.
“He wrestled really tough,” Santilli said. “He was giving up about 20 pounds to his opponent. We wanted to get the matchup we wanted. He's been battling a couple of injuries, and he wrestled a courageous match. He's been doing that all season for us.”
Also scoring wins against Hempfield were senior Malik Shuman, with a fall at 170 and senior Mike Limbacher with a fall at 152. Shuman evened his record at 8-8, while Limbacher improved to 8-9.
Senior 120-pounder A.J. Wilkins still waits to get cleared by a doctor to resume his season. He suffered a foot injury right before Christmas, and the former section champion recorded a 6-1 record up to that point.
“He has another doctor's appointment Friday, and we hope he will get cleared then,” Santilli said. “Even if he does, he won't be in condition to wrestle at the Montour Duals.”
Santilli said the team got some good news, as senior heavyweight Jaymar Parrish has been cleared to compete.
Parrish hasn't been able to wrestle this season after he suffered a broken ankle late in the football season.
Santilli said Parrish will be at heavyweight at the Montour Duals.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.