Welsh, Novak pull upsets at WPIAL wrestling
It's rare that highly seeded wrestlers get upset during the first night of the WPIAL Class AA Championships.
Someone forgot to tell Beth-Center freshman Anthony Welsh. He upset Burrell junior Steve Edwards, the second seed, 6-4, in the 138-pound quarterfinals Friday at Chartiers Valley.
Welsh wasn't the only wrestler to pull off a surprise. Mt. Pleasant freshman Mike Novak edged South Fayette freshman Mike Carr, 4-3, in overtime at 126, and Yough junior Lucas Richardson used an escape in the ultimate overtime to squeeze by Avella senior Zack Simonelli, 4-3, at 182.
Action resumes with the semifinals at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, and the finals are set for 7 p.m. All wrestlers who reached the semifinals earned a trip to Johnstown for the PIAA Southwest Regional.
“I kind of knew I was going to meet him in the quarterfinals,” Welsh said. “I trained for him all week. I hit a dump early and then got a two-point near-fall. I was confident I could beat him, and the first takedown was huge.”
But nerves got to the freshman in the third period, and he started to lose confidence.
“I was getting tired,” Welsh said.
But despite giving up two takedowns, he held on for the win. He'll face Jefferson-Morgan junior Jason Miller in the semifinals.
Novak and Carr were locked in a heated a battle. Novak got the upper hand with a first-period takedown, but Carr rallied to tie the score, 3-3, sending the match to overtime.
In the second overtime, Novak was able flip forward to escape Carr's grasp. Carr had a chance to tie the match again, but Novak didn't allow him to escape.
“I knew I had to wrestle tough,” Novak said. “The first takedown really helped out. I've been working on top, and it helped me. I thought I had back points in the third period.”
Novak gets a rematch with Valley senior Josiah Hughes, who beat Novak by two points in the Westmoreland County Coaches' Association tournament in January.
Richardson needed an escape in sudden-death overtime to get by Simonelli, a wrestler he defeated, 7-1, in a dual match.
“I spoiled his senior night,” Richardson said. “He came out with revenge, but I was able to pull out the win. He came to wrestle.”
Richardson, who wrestled at 170 all season, moved up to 182 so senior Gary Fallecker could drop to 170.
Burrell, the WPIAL champion, advanced only three wrestlers to the semifinals: Phil Marra (145), Dakota DesLauriers (182) and Allan Beattie (285).
Jefferson-Morgan has the most in the semifinals (6). South Fayette and Mt. Pleasant advanced five each and West Greene four.
The eight returning champions — Valley's Pat DeWitt (106 in 2012), Kittanning's Jason Nolf (113), South Side Beaver's Nate Reckner (120), Charleroi's Nick Gavazzi (138), Chartiers-Houston's Tanner Sutton (145), South Fayette's Jared Walker (152), Jefferson-Morgan's Dustin Conti (170) and DesLauriers — all advanced.
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.