Franklin Regional, South Fayette advance to wrestling finals but face tall tasks
There have been a lot of firsts for the Franklin Regional and South Fayette wrestling teams this season.
Now both will attempt to achieve another Saturday by winning their first WPIAL team wrestling titles.
But it won't be easy as both are facing perennial powers.
Franklin Regional advanced to the Class AAA finals with a heart-stopping 28-27 victory against North Allegheny on Friday in the semifinals at Chartiers Valley. It will face No. 1-ranked Canon-McMillan, which is seeking its fourth consecutive title after defeating Kiski Area, 36-24.
The Class AAA finals are scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
South Fayette will face Burrell in the Class AA final at 2 p.m. South Fayette won nine of 14 matches to defeat Jefferson-Morgan, 37-23, and Burrell, which has won six consecutive titles, held on to beat Chartiers-Houston, 37-30.
The four winners Friday earned trips to Hershey for the PIAA team championship, which begins Thursday. The four teams that lost will meet in the third-place matches with the winners advancing to the PIAA pigtail round on Monday.
“It could have gone either way,” Franklin Regional coach Eric Mausser said. “We had some kids who did a great job not giving up bonus points, and Dom (Giannangeli) was sick before the match with a fever and he gutted out a win.”
Both teams won seven matches, and it came down to the bonus points. Kyle Berk (113) and Josh Maruca (145) posted pins for the Panthers.
“We lost a couple ones, and we gave up some bonus points,” North Allegheny coach Jamie Kyriazis said. “We'll see how we'll respond. We'd like to get back to Hershey.”
Canon-McMillan, which trailed, 10-0, got pins by Josh Minor (113), Connor Schram (126) and Cody Wiercioch (170). It also received a forfeit.
South Fayette disbanded its wrestling program in 1999, but the school district brought it back five years ago.
“This is an incredible feeling,” South Fayette junior Grant Fetchet said. “We work hard every day in practice, and it pays off. Now we have a shot at winning a WPIAL title, but we have a tough Burrell team.”
It was a pin by Fetchet at 152 that seemed to energize the bench. Fetchet trailed, 2-0, to Ryan Zalar in the second period. But Fetchet locked Zalar in a cradle and pinned him.
Mike Fetchet (170) and Zach Walker (220) had pins for South Fayette, which won nine of the 14 bouts.
“Getting to the finals hasn't hit me yet,” South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard said. “We've grown as a team in the past year. They didn't know how to win last year; now they do.”
Burrell watched Chartiers-Houston race to a 15-0 lead on pins by Garrett Vulcano (285) and Ben Hritsko (106) but battled back on the strength of pins by John Andrejcik (132), Phil Marra (152), Corey Falleroni (160) and Dakota DesLauriers (182).
Tanner Sutton (145) and Jimmy Saieva (195) also recorded pins for Chartiers-Houston.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.