Burrell's Beattie, DesLauriers win PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional titles
At about this time a year ago, Al Beattie began to unwind after a prep wrestling season in which he placed eighth nationally for the Kiski School, a private academy located in Saltsburg.
By the looks of it, Beattie, now a sophomore back in his home district of Burrell, has plenty of business left on his agenda in his first season as a PIAA grappler.
Beattie added another title to his resume Saturday night at the PIAA Class AA Southwest Regional championships, as he edged West Branch junior Morgan Selepack, 4-1, in the heavyweight finals.
“It's a lot different, and it's a lot longer, too,” Beattie said of the individual postseason. “I really like it.”
The WPIAL champion, Beattie received the No. 1 seed for regionals and lived up to that reputation, as he pinned his quarterfinal-round opponent and then avenged a loss to Chestnut Ridge's Austin Buttry, who defeated Beattie, 6-2, in the PIAA team tournament in early February.
“I knew as long as I just kept working, I'd be OK,” Beattie said of the rematch, which he won, 3-2. “(The first time), I just quit.”
Burrell coach Bud Sines said Beattie has developed a work ethic and style often associated with lighter wrestlers.
“I think he shows a lot of athleticism, like the little guys,” Sines said. “And he's working harder and showing more intensity, like the little guys.”
Senior Dakota DesLauriers (182 pounds) did not leave any doubt about where he ranks in the Southwest region on his way to a third title. The weight class' top seed, he won with a first-period pinfall in the quarterfinals, an 11-4 decision in the semifinals, and cruised past No. 2 seed and District 6 champion Scott Thompson of Blairsville, 13-4, in the finals.
Led by two champions, third-place finisher Steve Edwards (138), and two fifth-place finishers in junior J.R. Andrejcik (132) and senior Phil Marra (145), Burrell took second in the standings with 83 points, five behind South Fayette.
For the first time since 1978, Valley advanced three wrestlers to the PIAA. Juniors Pat Dewitt (126) and Terrell Fields (182) each placed third, while Josiah Hughes (120) finished fifth.
“I expected those three to get through to states,” Valley coach Steve Ansani said. “And we don't compete all year just to go to states. We want to place in the top eight. Everybody wants gold.”
Character in the face of adversity came to mind for Kittanning coach Brandon Newill when he spoke about junior Jason Nolf (132), who defeated Keystone Oaks' Nick Zanetta for a third straight week to win a third regional title.
Nolf, who won 8-6, had a 5-2 deficit in the second period after he allowed a reversal and a three-point near-fall. He responded almost immediately with an escape and a takedown. Later, with 56 seconds left in the third, he scored the match-deciding takedown.
“I love to see him put in that position because it gave him an ultimatum: Either you fight back, or you lose,” Newill said. “It was great to see him fight through that.”
Senior Zac Croyle (182) will join Nolf as a state tournament qualifier after placing second.