Falcons wrestlers ready for 'second season'
During the team portion of the high school wrestling season, Connellsville won the Section 2-AAA title. It would then stand to reason that the Falcons have high expectations when the individual portion of the season begins with the 2-AAA Sectionals on Saturday at Baldwin High School.
The top five wrestlers from each weight class will advance to next week's WPIAL/Southwest Regional tournament, and Connellsville coach Tommy Dolde is optimistic that most, if not all, 14 Falcons competing this weekend will qualify.
“I was looking at the brackets, and we have seven kids that are top two seeds, so we should do well,” Dolde said.
Nothing is certain, and that's why the Falcons have been putting in the time to prepare for wrestling's second season. But Connellsville hasn't wrestled an opponent since losing to Kiski Area in the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals Jan. 30. Connellsville was scheduled to compete in the McGuffey Duals two weeks ago, but it was canceled. Connellsville did have a workout session with Mt. Pleasant wrestlers Wednesday, but it's been a long time since the Falcons have seen live action.
“We've been mixing it up in practice,” Dolde said, noting sometimes the team focused solely on drills, while other sessions were spent in the weight room. “We've been able to do some different things.”
Connellsville senior Tyler Steele (12-7, 145 pounds) is one of five Falcons who are top seeds. He's anxiously awaiting the chance to get back on the mat in a competitive setting.
“We've had some tough practices, and a few matches may have helped,” Steele said. “But once we get the first few matches in, we'll be right back into it. I'm excited. I think everyone is peaking right now, and we should have a decent amount that win (sectionals).”
In addition to Steele, Connellsville's other top seeds include senior Ethan Kenney (23-6, 132), sophomore Dale Provance (22-7, 152), freshman Tommy Provance (23-7, 160) and senior Dylan Miller (29-4, 285).
Freshman Tyler Kenney (20-8, 106) and sophomore Matt Butler (20-10, 195) are second seeds.
Sophomore Daniel Leonard (16-11, 113), junior Ryan Burkholder (3-7, 120), freshmen Chase Cramer (3-13, 126) and William Bell (3-3, 138), sophomore Andy Cecil (12-9, 170), senior Shawn DeWitt (5-7, 182) and sophomore Francis Cavalier (14-13, 220) complete the Connellsville contingent.
Burkholder, Cramer, Bell, DeWitt and Cavalier must each wrestle in a preliminary match to start the tournament, but Dolde believes all of his wrestlers can battle their way through the brackets Saturday.
“I think we could get them all through,” Dolde said. “That's a goal, and it's possible.”
Action begins at 9:30 a.m. with preliminary-round matches. The championship matches and consolation finals will start at 6 p.m.
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.