South Fayette wins PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional team title
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A heads-up for the South Fayette School District: Expand the high school trophy case, because the pieces for a mat-loving, hardware-winning Green Machine are in place.
With one champion, two finalists and an unprecedented finish atop the team standings, South Fayette wrestling broke ground in a big way Saturday at the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional championships at the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.
The Lions, revived as a program for the 2008-09 season, accumulated 88 points to edge Burrell, which had 83. And they advanced five members to the PIAA championships, which begin Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey. The top five place-winners in each weight class earned berths.
“It's crazy, and it's been phenomenal,” said senior Mike Fetchet, who placed second at 170 pounds. “In our school, no one will deny it's basketball and football on top. Wrestling is on the back burner. But we're getting up there.”
Senior 113-pounder Seth Carr, a WPIAL runner-up, secured the program's second regional title with a 4-3 win over Ligonier Valley's Justin Patrick, a returning champion. He followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Nick, who claimed a championship in 2011.
“I saw a lot of these guys at the Bedford tournament, so I knew who I had to beat,” Carr said, referencing the late January event.
Sophomore Jared Walker (160 pounds), a two-time WPIAL champion, reached the finals, where he ran into the weight class' reigning king, Forest Hills' Cody Law. Law, a PIAA runner-up last season, controlled the match on the way to a 17-8 victory.
And Fetchet engaged in another nail-biter with undefeated Jefferson-Morgan senior Dustin Conti, a defending regional champion who won a WPIAL title matchup between the two last week, 7-6, in the tiebreaker portion of overtime.
The rematch, though less eventful in terms of offense, brought about the same result: Conti prevailed, 4-3, in the tiebreaker phase.
“It's plain and simple between us: Whoever gets that key takedown is going to win,” Fetchet said. “I almost had him, but I just didn't finish my shots, and against a kid like that, it'll come back to bite you.”
South Fayette coach Rick Chaussard had few qualms with the Lions' performance, as two other wrestlers, freshman Mike Carr (120) and junior Grant Fetchet (152), qualified for the PIAA championships. Carr placed fourth, while Fetchet took fifth.
“It kind of picks up where we left off in the (PIAA) team tournament,” Chaussard said. “We actually think we're better in (individual) tournaments than in duals because some of the guys we had in our lineup were so inexperienced.”
Lack of varsity time presented no problem for South Park freshman Greg Bulsak (126), who became the Eagles' first regional champion since 1989 when he topped Jefferson-Morgan junior, 4-1, in the finals.
Chartiers-Houston's Tanner Sutton (145) and Garrett Vulcano (195) both ensured that the Bucs' stretch of seasons without a regional champion ended; the team last had a champion in 2000. Sutton won, 3-1, in the finals over Conemaugh Township's Tanner Cahill, while Vulcano pinned Kittanning's Zac Croyle in the second period of their championship bout.
Burrell's Dakota DesLauriers and Kittanning's Jason Nolf secured their third regional titles.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
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